One Step at a Time

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking and planning to blog about the importance of taking things “one step at a time”. Ironically as I type this, I’m watching the news coverage of the March for Our Lives. I can’t help but be inspired by the young people, the next generation and the way they are using their voices for change. I’m moved by their courage and maturity. I’m impressed with their passion and dedication. I’m encouraged by the support they are getting from the adults. I feel hopeful for our future as a country.
Events like this, that unite people, fill my heart. I love the empowerment and advocacy that occur. As a social worker, it speaks to the fiber of my being. It’s who I am as a person, someone who fights for change and a better way of life for everyone. It’s what I’ve spent my career doing, working for equality and justice for people who don’t typically have a voice.
Change like this can feel overwhelming. When I SLOW down and think about all that needs to be improved in our world it feels daunting. However, I know that change can come and often it is incremental and occurs one step at a time.
Heading into March, I knew I would experience my own personal “March Madness”. I had numerous important meetings, presentations and trainings scheduled, most of which I was responsible for conducting. It was an unusually busy month! When I looked at the big picture of the month ahead, I got overwhelmed. I could feel my anxiety levels rising. I hate that feeling! I knew I would need some self-care strategies to keep myself sane and healthy.
In my work with educators, I know that feeling is all too familiar to those who work in schools. The demands are high, the needs are great, the pressures are heavy and resources limited. And now the threats to safety are on the rise. Almost on a daily basis I get a news alert that this school or that school is on lock down or closed due to a security threat. It can be a stressful and tenuous environment for everyone. How are teachers expected to teach and students expected to learn in that disconcerting setting?
The only answer I can think of, besides complete reform and the issues we march for, is “one step at a time”. Conducting our own personal march, putting one foot in front of the other, going step by step, facing the hard times with courage and awareness. Being thoughtful about what is ahead, while also incorporating self-care strategies, in an effort to maintain safety and wellness.
Through this last month, when I started to think about all that was facing me, I could sense my stress increasing, so I would take a deep breath and tell myself, “One step at a time” or “Day by day” or “Step by step”, “Don’t get ahead of yourself, focus on today”. It really helped! I fought (and believe me, it was a fight!) to be present in each moment. I wasn’t always successful, but this was good practice and I’m improving. I intentionally would try to only think about what I had directly in front of me, that day, not all that I had coming down the line. (Now, I feel obligated to mention that I did need to have a little forethought as I had to prepare ahead of time for trainings and meetings, making sure I had all the materials, etc. that would be needed for whatever was next, but I worked to stay calm.) Additionally, I made a list of dates and events I had in March. I would check them off that list in the evening as I got through each one. That practice gave me a sense of relief and accomplishment. I also was strategic about scheduling in some self-care. I planned a happy hour with a friend while waiting for my daughter during her evening drivers ed. training class. I arranged a dinner with friends who live close to the location of one of the trainings I did. I went to the movies one weekend and scheduled a massage for the end of the month as a way to celebrate. These moments kept me refreshed as I made my way through the month. (And in all honesty, sometimes I just needed a quiet at home in front of mindless TV too.)
Using those strategies and mantras made a difference for me as I got through my “March Madness” and so I share them with you in hopes that as you feel overwhelmed with all you have to do, you too can SLOW down and take things “One Step at a Time”.