Happy Monday Educators! The delay of this blog post is probably evidence that I fully needed a three-day weekend. Can anyone else relate? I’m sure there are many. So, for those of you who don’t know, I travel quite a bit for work. My familiarity with airport security, packing light to avoid baggage claim at all costs, and locating vegan and gluten free options in any city I’m in has become an increasing area of competence for me. During the past year or so of this reality, I have created a system that keeps me centered overall and focused on what is most important. I call it my sanity plan.
Over the past few weeks, however, I had six straight weeks of uninterrupted travel. Meaning…I was not home for any significant period of time. Add this to just the normal occurrences of life and by the time it was over I found myself feeling “off”, unable to find my bearings, and needing to desperately find my internal center…my space of peace. Usually, I could just make a minor tweak (i.e. enact a news and social media fast) and I would find myself veering back to my sweet spot. This time was a bit different. My usual shifts weren’t working. Additional meditation time? My mind was too busy. Focusing on gratitude in the am? It felt inauthentic. It all came to a head when on Thursday, I actually broke my toe working out. You should know that I’m an avid worker outer…lol. I actually enjoy it and I’ve done all sorts of workouts so when I landed incorrectly on my toe doing what I considered a rather safe move, it became clear to me that life was forcing me to stop and recalibrate.
As a result, over the weekend I took some dedicated time to stop, listen closely within, and just create the space to do what felt most needed at the time. I slept longer than usual, journaled about whatever came to mind, revisited my intentions for the year, listened to a borage of uplifting podcasts (Oprah’s 2020 vision tour is especially amazing), spent time with family, ordered groceries online instead of venturing out, etc. At the end of the weekend, I felt myself returning back to a space of calm where I could actually operate and make a meaningful contribution to my work, my son, my family, and most importantly…myself.
In reviewing my weekend, I couldn’t help but wonder how often we feel ourselves heading in the wrong direction and just keep plugging along. How many times do we continue to push ourselves to show up; on fumes, emotionally drained, physically spent, and then proceed to blame and belittle ourselves when we come up short of perfection? There is nothing wrong with working hard and pushing to get incredible work done. Life requires this of all of us from time to time and some seasons of this level of work are longer than others. What I am referencing is the diminished mental and emotional state that we operate from that can minimize our output.
Think of the times you felt like you were operating at 100%. The challenges didn’t stop surfacing, but when they did, you were better positioned to handle them. When adults around you failed to show up as their best, you were likely able to manage it with minimal offense and judgment. When students chose to act like the developing, immature, and sometimes troubled individuals that they are, you could respond in a way that builds them up rather than diminishes who they are. The space that you come from is critical and oftentimes we don’t feel like we are able to or have the right to take the time to center. We may feel guilty about stopping long enough to get adequate sleep or shutting down email to take a moment to eat a meal without interruption.
So, answer this question. When was the last time you stopped and gave yourself the time you needed to replenish? If you can’t recall a time, I would venture to say that your reading of this blog post might be an indication that it is time for you to reprioritize your life and put yourself on the top rung. I know…easier said than done. I’m a single parent of a teenager and am just now beginning to accept moments of thinking of myself first to ensure that my son gets the best version of me. Believe me, he wants no part of my lesser versions. It doesn’t mean that I’m not ever off or find myself snapping at the most minor elements but it does mean that when I catch myself in that uncomely state, I do what it takes to move past it as quickly as possible. It requires that I choose not to ignore the reality of where I am and the harm it can perpetuate for myself and for others.
Where are you at this time? Are you on fumes or did you just catch your second wind? Are you in need of a boost? If so, do you have a process to replenish? If you do, start and maintain that process now. If not, here are a few ideas to incorporate.
Slow your life down a bit. Choose to stop multitasking at every moment of the day and allow yourself to focus on one thing at a time for a change.
Treat sleep like a necessity rather than a luxury and prioritize acquiring enough of it.
Take the time you need to move around and feel alive in your body.
Find a way to get the feelings out (i.e. journaling, talking to a trusted friend or family member, meditation, etc.).
Take a break from the news and/or social media. Too much can be toxic.
Do whatever works best for you and if one method doesn’t work, try another. Keep trying until you land on the correct combination that leads you back to your center. You are worth the time and investment it will take to ensure that all is well with you. Until next time…
In Solidarity and Love,