This article was originally published on Medium. Here’s the link to the original: https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/seven-weeks-after-teaching-aadf5bbcac3a

Seven weeks ago I left my secure teaching position and started a new job adventure. I had a really good spot in a district, did fairly well at the actual teaching part, and loved the people I worked with. I had a great administrator.

The problem? A lot of things that I won’t dwell on too much, because then it becomes whinging and whining, and that’s not what I want this to be.

Working 60+ hours a week sucks, especially when you don’t get paid for that time.I know many teachers who have a passion for teaching and all that comes with it, but even then, they put far too many hours into work than are fair. They live school all day, almost every day, searching out Pinterest themes for bulletin boards at all hours, designing virtual Bitmoji classrooms on the weekends, and crafting diverse, complex assignments to fit the highest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Those people are born teachers, but many of them are tired and overextended. I couldn’t do it anymore.

I love working and being useful, but I also want to leave work at work, during work hours. I resented, really resented, having to do work on what was supposed to be my own time and it was constant. I felt like I could never get out from under the weight of the never-ending papers-planning-staff meetings-content area PLC meetings-parent meetings-grade level PLC meetings-MTSS meetings, and then there was the actual teaching to do, which I was actually pretty good at. I was exhausted all the time and my depression was always on the verge of getting the best of me.

There were definite payoffs, though, some wonderful students who I genuinely love, and who I loved teaching. I’ll always remember them, but I don’t want to teach anymore. Those students are good memories.

I worked with some really fabulous people over the years: teachers, teaching assistants, administrators, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and custodial staff. I learned a lot from my coworkers and I met some really beautiful souls that really cared about what they were doing. Our kids will be better because of them.

I also worked with people who should never have become teachers or who were completely burned out and should have left years before. That’s what was happening to me and I didn’t want to be that person.

I love my new job. I love the staff, I love the people, and I’m really enjoying what I do. There are good challenges there, not impossible ones, and I can leave work at work. It was a great move, if a bit scary, but I’m so glad and grateful to be where I am. I’m happy.

At the end of the day, I did what was right for me. Teaching will always be an important time in my life, but it was time to go. Sometimes you have to do that in life, even if it means a big change.

You might be really glad you did.

A Simple Word

I started a new job at a large university a couple of weeks ago and it’s been wonderful. A new, fast-paced, meaningful environment. I think this is a good fit.

Because of what is going on at work, today was the first chance I had to go and get my official ID. The office for that is located in a large hospital complex and with COVID closing many entrances, I found myself asking for directions three times today.

Everyone was incredibly helpful and kind, but the last person I asked said something that has stayed with me all day.

I made it to the building where I needed to be, but didn’t know where the office was located, so I asked a person behind a desk for help. I explained that I was a new employee and needed an ID. I was hurried and stressed because my (very capable) intern would need to be removed from the phones soon and I was running late trying to find the place.

They cheerfully gave me directions. As I thanked them and turned to go, they said, “Oh, and hey, congratulations!”

I smiled and thanked them, and as I turned to go, they said, “See, it only takes a minute to tell someone congratulations. Congratulations!”

You know what? They were right.

I thanked them again, a big smile on my face because it was just so unnecessarily nice.

That exchange was less than 30 seconds, but, ye gods, did it brighten my day.

Say something unnecessarily nice to someone tomorrow, just because. You don’t know just how much it can brighten someone’s day. I’m making it a goal.

Let me be clear.

I fully understand that I have ingrained prejudices that I am working to overcome. Daily. Actively. But there are many things that I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how anti-Semitism is ever acceptable.

I’m sick over this.

I don’t understand how anti- BIPOC is acceptable.

I don’t understand, and I never will, how inciting violence and/ or disrespect against any ethnic, religious, or racial group is even remotely acceptable.

Some people really suck.

But there are those who work for equality and change and understanding.

Hang with them. Not the other.

For this brand new year, yet unwrapped, I wish you many things, Dear Readers.

I wish you,

Happy New Year 2021 in 2020 | New year wishes, Happy new year wallpaper,  Happy new year pictures











Warm hugs


A (safe) future without masks


Thank you all for reading and following my blog this year. You are loved and appreciated!

See you in 2021.

Life Lessons In Pandemic Year


Click here for my new Medium article!


Book Sale!

For Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, oh heck a whole week, I’m offering the Kindle version of Traveler for $0.99! If you like stories about time travel and Tudor England, give it a try. 🙂

If you’re a writer and you’ve never tried it before, the NYC writing challenges are a lot of fun. I just entered for the second time. There are several different types of contests. Check them out here: http://www.nycmidnight.com/

On the day the challenge begins, you’re given a random topic, an action to use in your story, and a word that you must use. You only have 24 hours to submit it. In January, I’ll find out if I made it to the next round or not. In the last challenge I did, only a 100-word story, I made it through the first round but not the second. Fingers crossed!

This time in, I was assigned Sci-fi, not my favorite genre, but what the heck? Entries in this particular contest must be 250 words long, not including the title. Here’s mine, just for kicks. Tell me what you think! (Or not, lol.)

Sunset At St. Paul’s

The sun was sinking down below the spire of St. Paul’s Cathedral, brilliant with rays of orange, red and gold. Old St. Paul’s, I reminded myself. It looked nothing like Christopher Wren’s version in modern London.

I was still reeling with excitement at my success. For years, I had been tinkering, struggling, with the calculations and physics that would enable me to travel through time. I had failed, over and again, but this time it had worked!

I entered London in 1502, elated, my head spinning. Having no money, I quietly shoplifted appropriate clothes from one market stall, a steaming meat pie from another, silently promising to repay the damage later when I had re-established myself.

Earlier that day, in 2020, I had connected the final piece in the portal, and watched as finally, finally, it started to hum. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and thought once more about leaving the modern world behind. My design left no way for me to return; this would be permanent. 

I stepped though.

With that choice, I began anew. Again. Deciphering the mystery of traveling through time had consumed my every thought for years; the isolation, coldness, and drudgery of twenty-first century life weighed me down. I knew if I could open a gateway to the past, I’d return to the loving family I left behind when the flying disc creatures from beyond sent me hurtling 500 years into the future, almost twenty long years ago.

I was home.

My new article on Medium!


A Year Ago…

A year ago in November, I was cast in a new play. I was excited.

I studied my lines sitting at a high-top table with a too-hot cup of Earl Grey in a tiny, crowded, Starbucks on Woodward Avenue in Midtown Detroit while Youngest Child rehearsed at the DSO across the street.

I was getting ready for Thanksgiving, planning the food and getting ready to go on a cleaning binge in anticipation of guests.

There would be a break from school for a few days, our first since August, thank God.

My life was full and busy, just the way I like it.

Was I happy? In many ways, in most of the ways that count. Depression is its own ugly beast, but last November, from what I remember, was pretty good aside from my usual major stressors, i.e. work.

This November? I’m teaching from home. I have been, since March 16. While aspects of it are difficult and horribly tedious, I don’t hate it. No child has openly defied me in almost a year. Disruptive student? Remove them from Zoom. Problem solved.

My theatre has a good, solid, safe, plan to ease back into performances, streaming at first and playing it by ear. We’re so very lucky to have a nurse-practitioner on our board who gives us trustworthy advice and is heavily involved in our reopening plan. I am so very grateful that there is hope.

But… I want normal back. I want people to stop whining about their ‘freedom’, wear a damn mask, and socially distance. We’ve done our part, but others haven’t and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. Just today, as I was in the check-out line, a guy walked into Rite-Aid with no mask, smirking like an asshole, just looking for someone to say something to him. (Stronger language is called for here, but I will defer to the comfort of my more sensitive readers. Understand that, in my head, I have called him every vile name I can think of.) I gave him the dirtiest look I could, but didn’t say anything in the hopes that store management would. I left in the next few minutes, my transaction complete. In retrospect, I wish I had, even though he was a large man and I am… not. I’m ashamed, actually. I should have said something and not let his size, demeanor, or stupid arrogant face intimidate me. Something to work on. Maybe martial arts for self-defense is a good idea. I also forgot that I had pepper spray in my bag. Note to self.

We cancelled our Thanksgiving, so that we all had a better chance of being here next year. We’re dropping dinner off for Marty’s mom. Next year, we’re going to do it up right.

We also cancelled Christmas, outside the family in the house. It all kind of sucks.

I want to walk into a crowded restaurant again with no bigger fear than catching a cold. (I get my flu shot every year and I will damn sure get my COVID shot when it’s available.) I want hug my family again, specifically Oldest Child and Very Serious Girlfriend. I want to learn lines for a show that’s not rehearsed on Zoom/socially distanced. I want to perform on stage in front of an actual audience.

I want my life back.

Wear a (insert favorite adjective here) mask and don’t be a (adjective) jackass. You can probably guess my adjectives.