How to Separate the Personal from the Professional

How to Separate the Personal from the Professional
Joshua Smalley

There are those days when you just have to separate the personal from the professional. Seriously, you’ve been tried and your patience has worn thin. Kids are wonderful and we teachers are only human. There comes a point where personal care and really working to ensure you are healthy, rejuvenated, and operating at your peak is important. Sometimes, that requires taking a break. For me, I do relish our longer breaks, but I also try to take breaks every week, and every day if possible. When I go home, everything else in my life in which I’m interested percolates to the surface and I play.

I’m one of those individuals that just has to be trying lots of different things. Life is just too interesting to get pigeon-holed into one thing. I’m writing a book about this concept.

What do I do? Well, I chase my curiosities. I’m not particularly good at any of these things. I just dabble with many things and I allow myself the room to fail. The process itself becomes far more interesting than anything else. My curiosity is the biggest factor. Many of you reading this may be dabbling in more than this and at much more sophisticated at masterful levels. This is simply how I reset and ensure that I’m at my best for the students—by being my best and living fully engaged in my areas of interest:

Playing the cello, hiking, photography, videography, painting, basketball, baseball, investing, writing, traveling, tour guiding, working out, life-hacking, wildlife conservation and research, traveler (see my YouTube channel), and treehouse owner (Costa Rica).

I don’t feel the need to master each of these; for some areas, I’m very talented while for others I’m at a hobby level. For some, I’ve earned money, for others I’ve spent money. Throughout my exploration, I’ve proven that I can stay committed to one particular career while playing around across many interests. Somehow, I’ve been able to “have my cake and eat it too”. I get to have child-like awe of the world every day.

In fact, when people ask me what I do, I’m actually quite cautious to answer “teacher.” I think what makes me a teacher is that I possess so many interests and that I dabble in so many of them and that I don’t mind messing up along the way. Kids appreciate this authentic way of living, I think. What I do is not confined to a job title. And that’s how I take a “break” and stay refreshed.

In this country, I’ve spent most of my travel and time exploring wildlife. I do paint a little, hike a little, write a little, lead a few small-end tours, do photography and videography, but really, it’s been about wildlife exploration here in Ethiopia. Here’s a collection of experiences that I’ve had. You might be interested in some of these options for your own travel interests.

· Crocodiles at Awash National Park:

· 10,000 Flamingo Lake: (pt2)

· Aba Samuel Reservoir (amazing, close-by option):

· Menelik Historical Site:

· Senkele National Park:

· Baboons near Awash National Park:

· Lions near Awash National Park: & &

· Caracals near Awash National Park:

· Geladas at Debre Libanos:

· Ethiopian wolf on the Sanetti Plateau: (pt1), (pt2), (pt3), (pt4), (pt5)

· Arsi Mountains, Block 1: & &


Also, check out my “Weekends in Ethiopia” series that just began. It will be continually filled with silly or interesting things to do on a weekend in Ethiopia.

· Ep. 1 (Gibe Gorge)

· Ep. 2 (Safari Lodge highlight; Adama)

· Ep. 3 (Debre Libanos part 1)

· Ep. 4 (Debre Libanos part 2)

· Ep. 5 (Debre Libanos part 3)

· Ep. 6 (a quirky video highlighting a bajaj ride and an eagle-owl)

· Ep. 7 (hot air ballooning trip)

· Ep. 8 (Laphto Mall art gallery feature)

· Ep. 9 (Lake Awassa Hippo chasing and boat ride)

· Ep. 10 (Just the birds in Addis that can be found anywhere)


Ultimately, if you like what you see and want to check out my other wildlife, or general travel, videos outside of Ethiopia, here is the channel: Trips include (tigers and snow leopards in India, leopards, and elephants in Sri Lanka, wolves, and lynx in Belarus, the Big Five in Kenya, Cheetahs in South Africa, climbing Kili, staying with the Pa’Lungan tribe, my treehouse in Costa Rica, and much more). There’s a ton of ideas and opportunities for you to go out and rejuvenate yourself. Happy travels, rest, and adventure. Sometimes we all just need a little nudge, some subtle encouragement.

Joshua Smalley is a High School teacher at ICS whose life's work is to show people the beauty in the world around them and experience it with them.