It’s that time of year when we begin to shift our focus to the upcoming holidays. I imagine they will look different this year from the traditional holiday settings of which we are accustom. We are becoming experts at adjusting and modifying our “normal” way of life. (not to say we like it or aren’t feeling the fatigue of making those adjustments, I think we are just getting more used to it).
Arguably, not all of the shifts we’ve made in these last several months have been negative. Perhaps through this time we have found some “new and improved” ways of life. More time at home to engage with family or friends has been nice. I am definitely not traveling, or shopping or eating out like I used to, which is a cost-savings. Being able to focus on hobbies and health is a blessing as well.
With Thanksgiving approaching, we typically reflect on all we have to be grateful for, which may also look different this year. Perhaps our perspectives and priorities have changed in some ways. Maybe we are grateful we still have our health or a roof over our heads or jobs. In uncertain times, the things that matter most rise to the surface. If you follow my work or blogs you know I am a huge proponent of taking time to reflect, pay attention to and appreciate the good happening around you. That is one of the reasons I like Thanksgiving. It’s a reminder to SLOW down and give thanks.
However, since we are doing things a bit differently this year, I propose in addition to giving thanks, that we consider ways to get thanks. That may feel weird or awkward or even selfish to think about how to do something like that. But this is a weird and awkward year and I am here to tell you it is not selfish to prioritize your own needs. Just stick with me here…I don’t necessarily mean to look for others to acknowledge or appreciate you (although that is also a plus). What I intend here is for us to look for ways to acknowledge and appreciate ourselves. How can you pat yourself on the back? What are you thankful for in and of yourself? How can you give yourself gratitude? What are you doing well? What are your strengths? Think about your positive attributes and accept your greatness.
This idea became more crystalized for me through a recent dream. I dreamt that I was in a white bathrobe walking through “my” house, which happened to be a large house with many rooms (so clearly NOT my current place of residence). I was trying to get upstairs to the bathroom to take a shower and people kept following me around the house. Some people looked familiar, others did not. One group of about 3 or 4 people were even in a golf cart chasing me right up to the bathroom door. I was frantically running around the house (in my robe remember) shooing people as I closed and locked them out of windows and open doors. There were groups of people eating and listening to music on the back patio. (I shooed them away too although not sure why that mattered since they were outside?) I woke up taken aback and a little out of breath, but then realized I did a good job of setting boundaries and staying focused on my needs. I was proud of myself and grateful for the lessons I’m learning to take care of me. I didn’t let all the people (crawling through the windows and following me down long halls) with their demands stop me from doing what I needed to do. I was kind but assertive, “I can’t help you right now. I need a shower”.
It doesn’t take a dream interpreter to point out the meaning of that dream. How many of us feel that? We can feel like we are constantly being pulled on or interrupted by what seems like hundreds of people, when we need the space, time (and privacy?) to do the simplest task.
Those of us in the field of education, but really in any position of caregiving, are frequently pouring our energy, time, heart, and mind into others around us. That is the nature of our work, giving. But for this particular time of year (although it doesn’t have to just be relegated to Thanksgiving), how would it be if you also thought about getting. Can you get some time to read a book for fun or watch a movie or take a nap or a walk? Can you get away for some alone “me time” to recharge? Can you get together with people who restore your spirit? It’s not just about pouring out and giving to others, it’s also about bringing in and filling yourself up. Get those needs met and then give thanks!