Practice What You Preach

Perhaps you have heard the adage, “you teach what you need to learn”. That absolutely rings true for me in this last month or so. I just finished another stent of unusually busy travel over the last 6+ weeks. I am thrilled to have all the various opportunities to share my passion with so many people around the state and country.
Nevertheless, being on the road so much recently, I noticed my level of tolerance waning. I am not typically a “road rager”. I may get my feathers ruffled from time to time, if I am cut off in traffic or something like that. But for the most part I am gracious, knowing I have made my fair share of mistakes behind the wheel and also not knowing what the other driver may be experiencing. Perhaps they have a family member that is ill, and they are in a hurry to be with them. Or maybe they are responding to a personal emergency. I have been in both of those situations and so I try to believe the best of others, extending kindness, knowing I have, and probably will again, need that in return someday.
However, the last couple of weeks as I was traversing all over the state of Michigan, presenting at various conferences and meetings, I saw a different side of myself and not a pretty one at that. A very angry and impatient person appeared in the place of someone who normally would just let things slide. I began yelling (to myself) at other drivers, berating them and criticizing their driving (in)abilities. The more miles I traveled the more intolerant I became. The pinnacle experience occurred as I was racing back, returning from my last overnight trip of the season, eager to be home and off the road for some reprieve, the realization of the negative energy I had been releasing became evident. It/I was so not attractive! Absolutely not what I represent, or who I am (usually) and definitely not the type of vibration I want to send into the world. There is enough negativity around us, I do not need to be compounding it. Then the irony of the work I do settled in. My job, in part, is to encourage people to take care of themselves and support those around them. I strive to be an example in that way (a pied piper if you will). I consult with educators and others, to create positive environments which are conducive to working and learning. None of that involves losing it with people, while on the road (or in person for that matter).
It was humbling to recognize and admit. I also had to acknowledge that I was tired and hadn’t done a great job of practicing what I preach. Here I was running around telling everyone to take time for themselves, prioritize their needs, establish boundaries and I hadn’t followed my own advice.
So now here we find ourselves, knee-deep in the holiday season (maybe even waist deep). It’s a time of year that should be shrouded in gratitude and reflection as we cherish lighter work schedules (including time off) and opportunities to be with loved ones, family and friends. However, it is instead often clouded with a sense of frenzy. But, especially after the last several weeks, I refuse to give into the holiday hoopla.
The good news is this time of year offers me/us opportunities to practice patience, the very thing I have been running thin on and maybe you know others who have been as well. Ironically, as I’ve been working on this blog, in the last few days, the topic of needing to be patient and wait and watch (“W” in S.L.O.W.) has come up in conversations with friends. To me, this further confirms the need for a reminder to all of us to SLOW down. Rather than jump into the fray, I plan to use this time to do just that, focus on the things I value (“S” in S.L.O.W.), spend time showing love to myself and others (see last month’s blog) and make memories with family and friends. I will intentionally continue to practice the things I preach and hope you will do the same. We will all be better off and our holidays less harried and more merry.