I’m sitting here looking at my gallon jug of water. I’m about an hour behind on my hourly goals. Goals that the writing on my water jug so kindly lays out for me. “Don’t give up!” “Almost finished!”
This jug has become a bit of a conversation piece. It’s not uncommon to see me standing in a doorway, chatting with someone with my gallon of water propped up on my hip like a special baby under my care.
But shew. Sometimes “self-care” is exhausting. I’m sure saying that sounds entitled and perhaps it is. But what I mean is often we think of self-care and we think MORE, MORE, MORE. More exercise, more sleep, more water, more meditative breathing, more vegetables and protein. Just MORE.
And I’m really losing my stamina for more. I think a lot of us are. When planning our professional development days this school year, we had many session options available to teachers that could be considered “self-care” in nature. In our survey responses, one teacher said something along the lines of, “Ugh, stop offering us self-care! It’s one more thing!”
Ironic. Dare I say, comical. Relatable. So while districts do the hard work and important work of examining and changing the systems and practices in schools that are contributing to this feeling of overwhelm, overwork, and exhaustion, where does that leave us as individuals?
It leaves us trying to figure it out. Often on our own. When I look around and I look at myself too, it’s clear that we have inner healing work to do. I have felt more “edgy” than I can remember feeling any other school year. It’s clear many of those around me are feeling the same. And when two people have an edgy moment at the same time, in the same room, what happens next is it’s rarely healthy or constructive.
We cannot be good for other people if we are not good for ourselves. Sometimes being good for ourselves means taking time to be honest with ourselves about how we are doing and what we need. This means figuring out what we need to release, so we have the capacity and bandwidth for those things that used to light us up. We need the energy to keep the light on. And it won’t stay on by just piling on more and more and pretending we are OK.
This is why I am incredibly grateful to be a part of an online course created by George Couros, “Recalibrating Your Health and Wellness.” This course is about space making and healing. The course is flexible in the sense that you can log on when you want to, bounce around to what interests you, listen for as long as you want to, and reflect at the level you want to reflect.
I, personally, have learned so much from George Couros, Lainie Rowell, Livia Chan, Dr. Mary Hemphill, and Evan Whitehead who have all contributed modules. There is something very soothing about listening to each of these thoughtful leaders. What I love is that this course is practical and it’s not about more, it’s about meaningful. It’s about figuring out what is worth holding onto and what we need to let go of, so we can be well and do well for others.
Are you taking your laptop home after work only to realize that you can’t bring yourself to take it back out at night? Even though you’re daunted by that to-do list? Do you find yourself quietly or not so quietly judging others more frequently, blaming, and complaining about matters that didn’t used to get to you as much? Are you perpetually tired? Is it difficult to get up in the morning?
This has been the case for me. And what I appreciated about this course is that it gave me practical strategies for being well in my work and in my life. It also gave me a sense that I’m not alone in my struggle. I often listened while unloading the dishwasher or folding laundry. It’s OK to stack that listen on top of something you have to do such as driving into work. It made those mindless “have to” moments more enjoyable for me.
This course aside – I’m carrying your hearts in my heart. You deserve peace. You deserve all that is good in this world. We need great educators now more than ever. Take care of yourselves.