So it is a cold February evening and I am sitting at this tiny desk in a lecture hall surrounded by various assortments of professionals, each on laptops and iPads, jotting down notes, and going over the PowerPoint presentation that is being displayed on the overhead in front of us. It’s already 1.5hrs in and it is slowly dawning on me after six weeks that this is going to be a new venture into scholastics I really never saw coming.
My professor just said that “Analogous is a top down approach” and I just can’t help but think how kinky that sounds.
Yes. It happened. I went back to school.
This is not the first time I have done this. Flash backwards to the fall of 1998. I was 22yrs old and one year poz and trying to get my life back on course after this small “blip”. I thought Continuing Education at Ryerson might be a solution. I hadn’t finished my degree I initially started but thought perhaps a different field might be the answer.
Unfortunately my health, finances and the weight of it all crashed down and I could not finish. And with that I believed my final attempt at higher education through colleges and universities was complete.
I never let that stop me from learning however. Through the years I studied and did several yoga intensives that were more physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging than anything I learned in a classroom. I expanded my body and mind into ways I had never considered and garnered an elaborate collection of souls into my life that I would never have met in any other place than on the yoga mats in Shalas, studios and retreat centres.
There still, however, existed this piece of unfinished business and something that I thought would be a closed door for this portion of my existence. That was until the summer of 2013.
I had recently left doing contract work teaching to work for a company on a more permanent basis. It meant that the way I process and handle my money and finances was about to change. I think the one thing people forget, even I forget, about myself is that I’m legally disabled. And Ontario Disability Support has been incredibly helpful to me getting to where I am at today. My status has deteriorated several times to the point of death, but thankfully these past several years have been good.
I have been teaching yoga full-time for over five years but there are many days where I get run down. A FT yoga teacher’s life involves a lot of hustle. Many of us teach well over a dozen classes a week in as many different locations. Much of our day is spent travelling from one place to another. It’s slightly nomadic, slightly insane. And I love it!
But looking long-term, like many of my colleagues I am sure are doing or have done at one point in their career, is the sustainability of it all. I teach a massive amount, practice daily and workout just as often and yet I am quite aware of the fact that one period of weakness or reversion of health and it all could come tumbling down. So I'mworking really hard to make money but if I take time off the money dries up. It’s a never-ending struggle.
Prior to becoming a yoga teacher, I was working in an IT PMO in administration. It was a short contract that yielded a high enough pay that it took care of my yoga training expenses (which, if you have ever looked into doing yoga teacher training, are quite high) plus several more months to live off of while I started out this new career. A friend suggested an idea that I hadn’t considered in quite a long time, “Why couldn’t you just do that again?” Maybe take a contract again for a short time and intensely focus on that and then when it’s done go back to what I love.
When considering it I sat with a wonderful person from Employment ACTion who helped me go over aptitude tests and a course of action. I had been pressured to go back in PMO work for some time and I just had this aversion to it. Perhaps it was fear based? Perhaps it was just that I did not want to end up one of those people who wake up each day and hates their life and their job and where they are in that moment.
I am not saying you have to love every single moment in your job. But my hope would be if what you are doing falls into your passion then many of those moments won’t feel like work so much.
Anyhow, in our discussion about going back to work, the subject of school came up. When I think of school, the next thought that comes up in my head is cost. The second thing I think about is what I would study.(Which is funny to me as you’d think what would come before what). So I started investigating.
It turns out; I have an aptitude for project management. There were many key job parts that I excel at already. As I was reviewing my “score” it was occurring to me that perhaps my bias towards other PMs I have worked with was preventing me from seeing that perhaps I would enjoy this type of work too. So I applied for OSAP.
I thought May would be a good start. Fresh spring air and fresh new school stuff. I also found out that my financial reporting for Disability would change and that I would get some concessions for going back to school so I wouldn’t have to work/teach as much. Honestly, all I heard was more money and less work!
I thought Ryerson would be a good bet as it is close by and in the way their CE program allows a start in any semester. Before that though, I had some clean-up work from my first time around. Sometimes the messes of our life seem overwhelming, but if taken in piecemeal, they can be rectified. I was admitted and OSAP was approved and things were good to go.
On New Year’s Day, I thought “Why wait till May? Couldn’t I just start now?” That thought created a whirlwind of activity and actions and 10 days later, I was in school.
Two courses a semester are required for a disabled student to be considered FT. And OSAP funding is available for that and works in tandem with any earnings, be they from work or disability support. Having been at this for several weeks I can tell you that I have no idea how anyone could possibly sustain more than two courses a semester and still work FT and have any sort of life beyond both arenas. My hat is off to you! Work/life/school balance is more challenging than natarajasana - and sometimes I've fallen. But like I have learned on my mat, you just have to get back up and try again.
So congratulations - you are all caught up and I hope I have answered the main question I have been getting asked a lot lately. “How come you haven’t written anything in a bit?” This is why. ;)Metta.