Quieting Our Insides

Sheesh. It’s really really tough out there these days. You know? Many of us have said this is the most challenging school year we’ve experience in our careers. We have experienced collective trauma. The pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways and at varying levels.

And we are tired.

I think we are tired for many reasons. Some of our tired comes from things that used to feel easy feeling hard. And yet a lot of our tired comes from change fatigue. We’ve experienced a lot of change in a short period of time. And the changes keep on coming.

I’m tired even writing that.

But for me, part of my tired also comes from my own inner thought life. My anxiety runs hard and loud these days. And while I like to think that I’m a duck, calm on the surface but paddling like heck underneath, it’s still a lot.

I think a lot of the adults in our schools are feeling overwhelmed. It’s difficult to fully understand how we feel and why we feel it yet it doesn’t make it any less real. Not understanding it doesn’t make it matter less. It makes sense that we can’t quite explain it because we’ve had experiences in schools over the past year and a half that transcend human language.

I don’t know much, but I know this. We deserve better. We deserve to be OK. We deserve a sense of peace. And not only do we deserve it, our students deserve adults in their schools who can calmly care and be present for them.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a severe eye twitch that made it difficult to keep my eye open due to stress. Well, stress, and perhaps the fact that my main sources of nutrition were diet sodas and protein bars that week. Eek.

We recently received staff feedback on PD days that said, “Ugh, making us do self-care felt like one more thing!”

Ya’ll. That’s where we are. Think about that. We have hit our emotional limits- so much so- that taking a moment to get centered feels like another item on our to-do lists. This is a crisis for communities everywhere.

Some of us shut down. Some of us cry. Some of us get angry. Some of us shoot off angry emails. Some of us eat our feelings. Some of work late nights and weekends and try to out run the work. We are all coping differently and many of us aren’t coping well.

And an escalated adult can’t deescalate a child.

So, how do we get perspective? How to we press pause and find our way into healthier behaviors and mindsets?

For me, I’m committed to my daily workouts. I’ve scheduled them at a time that forces me to leave work on time. If I have to do more work on the computer later, so be it. Reminding myself that I am not a floating head but that I am, in fact, a person with a body who is alive helps shake me out of those chaotic thoughts. It allows me to get a bit quieter on the inside.

Some of us get that from meditation or focused breathing for little moments in the day. Some of us keep gratitude journals and write positive notes or call our friends. Some of us color with our kids or go down slides at recess. Others of us take hot baths and read books with cats in our laps.

Listen.

My dad died of Leukemia when he was just 32 years old. I’m 39 years old now and every year that I live past 32 feels like this important gift. I’m quite certain that he wouldn’t want me to waste my years feeling miserable and weighed down by the negativity that can be easily found just about everywhere.

No, I think my dad would want me to do what I can with what I have, where I am. He would want me to be the good, find the good, celebrate the good. It doesn’t mean we ignore hard things, hard conversation, hard work. What it means is that we aren’t going to let the misery take over our inner thought lives, casting a terrible shadow over our days.

We get one beautiful, important shot at living a good life.

And I intend to live it well.

What is one small move you could make to nurture your sense of well-being?

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