Back to Basics

**I wrote this before the Oxford tragedy occurred**

As I type this I’m sitting on a plane. I’ll be gone for 3 days. Typically, I over pack, “a girl’s gotta have options” is what I say. So, I almost ALWAYS check a bag. Plus, I hate schlepping a bunch a stuff through the airport and then fighting for overhead space. However, a friend challenged me to attempt to pack light and carry on. “You’re only going for 3 days! How much do you need?” (Coming from someone who is traveling for 8 days overseas and carried on their luggage?!) SO, I took the challenge and only brought the basics.  (And found overhead space in the row behind me, BAM!)

It’s no secret that those who work in schools are struggling right now. (Let’s be clear, they were struggling before the pandemic). Word on the street is things are harder this year than they were last year. As I work with educators around the state (and even through national calls/meetings) everyone confirms this to be the case. Citing shortage of staff (teachers, substitutes, bus drivers), exhaustion over “all the things”, pressure to make up for learning loss, addressing social emotional needs of students (and themselves), all while trying to be as “normal as possible”. It’s impossible. I have a lot of thoughts, feelings, and wonderings about why it has to be like this? And honestly, I don’t think it does. I’m sure there must be some way to relieve the pressure educators are under. It is definitely bigger than me, it’s systemic. I know my commitment to, and message about, educator self-care isn’t going to change the system as a whole, but I’m determined to try to help as much as I possibly can, even in my small sphere.

I read a blog this past week from Sean Slade. In it they wrote about many of these same things. That just telling a teacher to take care of themselves isn’t going to cut it. It used the metaphor of a burning building. Pulling someone from the fire and then throwing them back in. That image has stuck with me. I shared it during several meetings and professional development sessions I conducted over the last week, as self-care is always a focus of the conversation. Its challenging to want to support teachers, promote their wellness, while knowing self-care alone isn’t the answer. I liken it to passing out ice packs while sending teachers back into the burning building, to keep with the analogy.

Even though I know it isn’t enough, I still am convinced it’s necessary. Self-care is an act of survival. It may not fix everything, but we have to fight for our own well-being, even amid (or especially in) chaos.

How do we do that? I believe we get back to the basics.

  • Have the courage to say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone and be everywhere. That’s hard to do this time of year, but it is ok to say no.
  • Trim down the to do list. What can wait? What MUST be done? I didn’t dust or vacuum my house for WEEKS while I was traveling this fall. No one suffered.
  • Find something for which to be grateful. Hold on to that. Look for silver linings, it makes a difference. There is always something good around you. Avoid the negative rabbit hole.
  • Live in the land of good enough. Good enough is good enough. Things don’t have to be perfect. Perfection is the enemy of good. Give it your best, then keep on moving. It’ll be ok.
  • Remember you are not alone. Tag team, divide and conquer, ask for help. Share your feelings, talk about your experiences, it can validate and bring comfort and support.

I hope you can reflect on these things. What can you let go of? Do you really need 5 pairs of shoes for a 3-day trip? (I only brought 2?! Plus, the ones I’m wearing ha!) Let’s only schlep the essentials with us through life right now. Things are hard enough; we definitely don’t need more or extra. Leave some of those heavier items behind. Let’s try to travel as light as possible on this part of our journey. And I’m here to help you put things in the overhead compartment. Sending you love and light!

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