being a teacher

i am sorry

This is a personal post.  I won’t be offended if you skip it.  But as always, this little tiny space on the internet, is my place for the thoughts I carry with me and the thoughts I have right now are about this tiny space and the role I play.

Two weeks ago, I was working from home, probably checking email, Twitter, Facebook, or something else that required me to focus on my screen.  My kids were home, doing something, and Oskar, my five-year-old,  walked up to me and said, “Mom, you work a lot.” He then walked away.

For the past two weeks, these words have hit me hard, because he is right. I work a lot. I work all the time.  I work early in the morning, in the car when my husband is driving, late at night after my kids go to bed.   When I check social media, my mood changes.  I withdraw from my family.  I let the words of strangers affect my family as I get caught up in emotions I don’t need to have.  I have lost count of how many times I have had to catch my husband up on something that happened on social media which is now pulling me away from my family.  And if I am not working, I am thinking about work. About everything  I need to take care of online, the comments, the tweets, the posts, the little stuff that comes with doing the work that I have chosen to do.  Not my full-time teaching job, but my self-chosen extra work that has brought me into the lives of many others.

And while I am honored beyond words that anyone chooses to spend any time with any of my words, my ideas, or my projects, I also have no balance.  I have high blood pressure.  I have started having panic attacks.  In fact, I had one earlier today started by an email.

Before all of this, this blog being read by others, this living in a very small public eye, I never had panic attacks.  I didn’t fully understand what it meant to feel like you have disappointed strangers.  I didn’t fully understand what it feels like to be seen as someone who had all of the right answers, or to be seen as someone who should just learn to keep her mouth shut. I never brought my computer with me on vacation.  I didn’t need unlimited data just to keep up with all of the notifications, wants, questions and needs that pile up.  I didn’t look at my to be read shelf as work.

I knew what it meant to be just Pernille, a goofy, introverted, yet outspoken woman who loved her life with all of her heart.   Not Pernille Ripp who somehow has become someone I can’t live up to be.

Last week, I was supposed to speak at ISTE alongside some fantastic colleagues.  I was excited, yet nervous.  Once I got to ISTE though, I was overwhelmed, and not in a good way.  There was personal stuff going on at home, I was not feeling well healthwise, and the panic started to creep in.  How could I possibly live up to people’s expectations when I felt this awful? Then other stuff happened and I made the decision to go home. While it was the only decision I could make personally, it meant that I let others down.  That I broke a professional promise.  I never do this and yet I did it this time.  If you are one of the ones that I let down by not being there, I am so sorry.  If you waited in line, I am so sorry.  If you are one of the ones affected by my decision, I am so sorry.  I hope to make it up to everyone somehow.

But it speaks to my larger reality right now; my priorities are screwed up. I work too much.  I worry too much.  I give too much of myself to have enough left at the end of the day.  And it is only getting worse.  My doctor is telling me to stop and my kids are reminding me to listen.

So it is time for me to step back a bit. To do less work publicly, to share less, to not be so immediately available.  To be just Pernille, the person who doesn’t have all of the answers necessarily.  That only creates something because she cannot help it. That gives all of her when she is in a public space, but then steps back when she is private.

I find so much joy in the work that I get to do with kids, with adults, and I don’t want to lose that.  I want to reclaim the joy.  The experimentation. The carefree.

So if you don’t hear from me for a while, I hope it is ok.  If I don’t take care of your question for a while, I hope it is ok.  I will still be out there, sometimes on the road, sometimes behind my screen, but I can’t keep this up.  I don’t want to keep this up.

Take care of yourself, it is time for me to do the same.





195 thoughts on “i am sorry”

  1. Everything is.. or will be… ok. We’re fixers by nature and when we can’t fix, it throws us off. I had to make myself a schedule for this summer, so I don’t work constantly and I’m not well, you. Today I’m enjoying a humdinger of a summer rain storm on my porch, catching up on short reading and giving myself a break. I hope you are too. See you soon. (virtually)

  2. Good job Pernille! You have to take care of you. I found Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacger Work Week to be really helpful in finding my balance. Good luck and be well!

  3. It is brave to be vulnerable. And it takes courage to set boundaries. You matter. Your words have created a space for others to reflect. Take what you need to rejuvenate your heart. Give yourself grace.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for recognizing your importance as a mom, wife and teacher and the need to take care of what is important to your life so you can help yourself and those you love.

  5. Take care of yourself and your family. Know that people are thinking of you and wishing you the best. Enjoy yourself, your sweet family and your summer. You deserve a break!

  6. First, I am sending the BIGGEST hug! Because hugs are linked to health and wellness, including the release of endorphins! And that, my friend is necessary right now!
    Secondly, I’m shouting …YES! And sending you strength and peace in the days ahead. Cheering you on from the sidelines. Because that’s also necessary now.
    You see Pernille, I’ve been there, and it’s not easy. I learned to label the behavior as a bad habit in our digital world. Recently, I’ve labeled it as the most important element of Digital Citizenship, called Digital Wellness.
    Through tears and meltdowns, I’ve given up career moves, leadership opportunities, and social media connections to spend more time with my husband and four children…multiple times!
    THAT habit has continued to be a struggle for me for over a decade…HOWEVER, once each blimp in time passed I’ve never regretted my choice to step back. My children are now 23, 21, 19 &17. Hang in there and step back as much as needed, NO apologies needed!

  7. Blessings to you for your honesty and your realness and for taking the time to be a whole person! Put yourself and your family before the world!!! That is the best example for your kids and your students and your colleagues. And thank you for all the real words you have shared with us!!!

  8. I wrote a very similar post about 4 years ago, Pernille. Our identities get wrapped up in what we do instead of who we want to be, and I get it. Soon, it becomes overwhelming. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this, and I wish you peace, friend. I have to remind myself daily- still!- that I only need to be me. I only need to do what is in the best interests of my family, and I can’t do that if my own “oxygen” runs out. You’ve got this. Big hugs.

  9. Good for you! I just recently happened upon your blog and have found a kindred spirit in your writing. Please be kind to yourself…it is so easy to do so much for so many without regard for yourself. Enjoy the summer and know that your readers will be here when you return.

  10. Listen to your heart and your family. Have a restful time reconnecting and reorganizing your priorities. Work will always be there ready to suck up every ounce of your energy and spirit. Take care of you first! Remember the airplanes and oxygen mask rules.

  11. Pernille – Your post supports us all: We all get it because, as teachers, our work seems never to be “done.” Being a connected wife and mother also involves most minutes of most days. The number of other projects you have taken on would leave me breathless. Earlier this year, I believe you were not feeling well. It’s good that you’re now listening to the “still small voice within you” as well as the voices of those who know you best. Clearly, after giving so much to so many for so long, it is time you give to yourself. As someone recently told me, every time you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. Now is the time to say “yes” to yourself and your family. Thank you for all the teaching and guidance you have given us regularly for such a long time. The pace of information these days is daunting and can often be too much to process. We can now all take a collective breath out and slow down. There is so much material from you to digest that it will keep us feeling connected as you heal. Blessings.

  12. Bravo! Putting yourself and family first will eventually give your work with others more power. Take time, go slow, think deeply. Maggie

    M. Maggie Bockius *Elementary Academic Math Coach* Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (530)-582-2500 ext 20511

  13. Take care of yourself Pernille, and enjoy your family. Although I enjoy reading your posts, I rather know that you are doing it with “balance”. “Balance” is my favorite world in education, because a lot of educational problems stem from the lack of balance.

  14. Pernille—Thank you for this. I have had similar moments where I realize that I’m giving more to my job than my family, and taking a step back always helps. Sometimes it’s for a week, a summer, even a year. Teaching is a vocation, a marathon…Put your own oxygen mask on first!

  15. Thank you sharing all the parts of yourself you have shared. And thank you for taking care of you. I have great admiration!

  16. This is the most refreshing, true, and affirming post ever! It’s counter-intuitive inside my brain when people sometimes respect me more for not doing the thing that I agreed to do. The people who know me, support my decisions because they know that I aspire to do “the highest good” in the world. And, sometimes in doing the highest good, I may have to to alter my agreement and sit in a dark, quiet room with a cool cloth pressed to my forehead and binge-watch “The Good Place.”

    There will always be disappointment and acceptance from the sidelines. As with the best teachers, they make their students better simply by being who they are. Pernille, you’re continuing to teach us and make an impact on our lives by living your life with authenticity and honesty. By taking time away and unplugging, you’re modeling what a healthy human needs to do some times. The popular trope of “You do you,” seems apt here. Keep doing you Pernille!

  17. Saying no is saying yes. You are making boundaries in order to enjoy what is around you. Well done and great inspiration for us all.

  18. Dear Pernille Thank you for sharing all your thoughts this past year. Your energy and positive thinking have been a blessing. Do look after self and your family – your ultimate responsibility is to self and them. God Bless


  19. Please take care of yourself. Balance is the most important aspect in a profession that has at its heart caring about and taking care of others. It took me awhile to get there, but once I did, I learned that no one really suffered all that much. 🙂 And my life was not nearly as public as yours. So, please, take the break and take care of yourself and enjoy your family!!! Also, do not respond to this message. 🙂 It is a step in the right direction. 🙂

  20. Yes. This. Thank you for being courageous and vulnerable. Thank you for modelling what it looks like to set healthy boundaries and take care of yourself and your family. Thank you for acknowledging the struggle, as a connected educator, between wanting to help others grow, and protecting ourselves from becoming unrooted. This is a beautiful post. Thank you so much for being brave enough to write and publish it.

  21. Way to go! I am so glad that will take time off to ‘heal’, be there for your family but especially for yourself, do the things your private self loves to do: read a book without thinking about blogging about it, read something without tweeting about it, enjoy the summer holiday and force yourself to not do anything related to school. It will be tough but it is the right thing to do! Looking forward to read your musings again once you re-connect, be it on this blog or on Twitter. Until then, get well!

  22. First time on your blog…is today. Read this post and thought hooray for you! Thank you for sharing and for reminding all of us to look at our own lives, especially our health, and stay balanced. Best to you.

  23. I love reading your blog. Balance is so difficult and never gets easy. Rest up, take care of yourself, and enjoy your family.

  24. Good for you taking care of yourself and then your family! You need to be proud of yourself for making the hard but right choice!!

  25. Taking care of yourself and your family is always the most important priority. Thank-you for your honesty and wishing you the very best.

  26. I hope you do NOT compulsively check the comments and responses to your blog post, but know you probably will at some point. Pernille, you are absolutely doing the right thing to step back and restore your own health and listen to your own children. I admit that I wonder how women with children, full time jobs and all those misc. demands have time to blog. Although you give a voice through your writing to many of our thoughts, Leaning In is NOT something I think educators should aspire to. They already lean in, by choosing their profession. Thank you for re-assuring us that you are, in fact, human! I wish you all the best in America’s Dairyland, my fellow cheesehead!

  27. Take care of yourself. You can’t inspire anyone if your share yourself with everyone. Focus on your health and your family. Good luck!

  28. I adore your transparency, vulnerability, and acknowledgement of the growing tension between everything life offers. I pray you would find your rhythm as a wife, mama, teacher, author, and literacy coach to us….i know you will with time and grace!

  29. You need to do what is best for you and only you can know that. I was faced with a similar decision after being in a car accident and saw how much my kids were being shuttled around by others—it was too much so it was time to re-prioritize what was important and slow down. You’ve really only got your kids, your family for a short time before they fly the coop and are gone—enjoy them while you’ve got them. Slow down. Breathe. We’ll miss you, but they’ll miss you more.
    Take care of you😍

  30. So proud of you and as much as I will miss your voice I am so happy you are taking care of yourself. You have left me and others with plenty to read and reread and practice.

  31. Pernille,
    You are amazing, inspirational, and wise to seek balance in your life!
    Family is the greatest joy and children grow so fast!
    Take care of you and those you value around you!

    I find social media a dangerous rabbit hole and regularly remove myself for my own and my families well-being. I am so happy that I do! I also find putting devices out of sight and reach for days at a time to be helpful.

    If you are interested in meditation, Headspace has a great app with 1 min+ meditations that has both helped me see my phone differently— as a centering and connecting with myself tool— and to focus on finding more time for my own well being (which is always tricky with being a parent; mine are 6,4, and 2)

    Hope to make it to your MI nerd camp some summer and talk with you then!

    Have a wonderful year and all the best to you and your family! May you find peace, joy, and balance in all your endeavors!

    Eric Wonsidler

  32. I just heard you at the amazing final session at nErDcamp before I found this blog. Had I seen this before, I would have wanted to give you a hug this afternoon. Take all the time you need to keep yourself healthy. Rest. Reflect. Spend time with your family. Take care of you 🙂

  33. Pernille, anxiety and panic are recently new to me too. As educators, we feel such a strong urgency to help and teach and impact. We will. We do. And it will always be part of us. I had to take a break from it all, and taking care of me and my own has made me a better educator, a better wife, and a better mom. Take care friend, I was honored to meet you and hear your story at nerd camp.

  34. God bless you! I have so enjoyed every minute reading your blog. I’ve copied and pasted many of them into my files as reminders. We see things the same way and it has been so helpful to have someone put a voice to that. BUT, I have often wondered how in the world you do it all. As much as I want to stay in touch with you through your blog, I commend you for listening to your doctor and your kids. You need to put that family first. They will grow up soooo quickly and you will never get that time back. You also need to put your health as a priority. You want to be around for a long time and high blood pressure and anxiety can cause long term negative effects on your life. (I deal with both of these as well.) Maybe it’s time to experiment as you did in your class 4th quarter with putting the phones away. In the end, the class didn’t miss it and it was better for all. But the key is to not feel guilty about it! You should not feel you have to apologize to US! Do what is right for you and your family! And thank you for all you’ve done for us and for the profession of teaching!

  35. *Best of luck and congratulations* on a very wise decision! I’m 57 and I wished I had taken that same decision 10 years ago… time for me to do the same!

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