Take Your Time

October was an unusually busy travel month for me. I was able to attend and present at several conferences and conduct trainings at numerous districts throughout the month. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people while also connecting with folks I’ve known for years. Knowing the month was going to be busier than normal I intentionally prepared for what was to come. I anticipated how tired I was going to feel while being on the road and thought about ways I could practice self-care before things kicked in (see blog “Preventative Self-Care”). I also thought through a plan for how to build in self-care during the month as well. I’ve written blogs before about times when things were busy for me and I didn’t handle it well. I really wanted to try to “do it right” this time. I was curious to see if I could practice what I preach when life is exceptionally harried.
I felt pretty confident heading into October. If you read one of my previous blogs, you may remember that my (paid off) car engine needed replacing over the summer. The return of my car, along with health improvements, after a difficult spring/summer had me feeling like I had overcome life’s challenges somewhat successfully. (not to say I didn’t have moments of breakdown, but I genuinely fought to keep perspective and overall did well). Because of all of that, I anticipated this travel season would be easy, comparatively. Plus, I thought, “Surely, I’ve paid my dues for 2019 so I must be in the clear, right?”. Not so fast, sister…. You obviously have more to learn.
While I was out working to support teachers and students (in that order) one school/district at a time, my home life was falling apart one appliance/expense at a time. During one of my stops at home, I realized that we had no hot water. Easy fix, right? Simply relight the pilot light, which I did (and felt pretty empowered about, by the way). But that wasn’t the cause of our lack of warm water. Thanks to google, I discover I probably needed a new thermocouple and enlisted someone to replace that for us while I was out of town, again. (Meanwhile we are going to our gym to shower. Mind you I’m not working out there, just showering?! Probably would have been good to actually USE the gym equipment while I was already there, but…that’s for another blog). The thermocouple is replaced. I return home relieved things were handled while I was away, only to determine there is still no hot water. Which leaves my final option, a new water heater must be purchased and installed during the one weekend I’m in town. Fortunately, I found a plumber to do that for me on a Sunday, and hundreds of dollars later we are back in business. The very next day, as I’m preparing to leave for another trip, I realize our house is freezing. As “luck” would have it, my furnace is now not working. It’s at that moment that I stop and decide I have two choices here. I can have another breakdown, which seems reasonable or I can go S.L.O.W. and take a deep breath and reframe (see last month’s blog). I determine it is easier and more beneficial to stay calm and keep perspective. I begin to wonder, what is the lesson here? What am I supposed to be learning through all of this, as things continue to pile on.
As I’m driving to my daughter’s parent/teacher conferences (yes those also happened during all of this as well), I thought about all the educators who may feel like “things continue to pile on” for them. Just when they have their curriculum figured out, the district changes it. Or they are transferred to a different building. I also thought about people who are less fortunate. Some may not be able to afford a new water heater or furnace repairman (or a new furnace-which as I write this is still to be determined). Things can always be worse AND things also get better! I’m still not exactly sure what I need to gain from all of this pandemonium, but I do know things work out, eventually. I’m grateful for the wonderful, friendly, highly skilled servicemen who helped me. I am grateful for the resources to afford those services rendered. I’m grateful that I was determined to take care of myself, taken advantage of slivers of time to go S.L.O.W., be still, present and attend to my needs.
I believe whole heartedly that if you are aware, in times of normal chaos or even in unexpected heightened chaos, you can find time and peace. It may be while you are sitting in traffic, with no choice but to wait, or on your way to the gym to shower, or waiting for a repairman. Use that time to breathe and reflect on all that is good. Or perhaps you are standing in line at the grocery store or waiting to deplane (why does that process take SO long?!) take a breath, count your blessings and use that moment for you. If we really paying attention, regardless of our circumstances, we can find time for self-care. It’s there, for the taking.

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