I was making myself an egg for breakfast the last week before the winter break. I, like everyone else, was running from zoom meeting to zoom meeting, trying to wrap things up, squeezing in quick bathroom breaks or a bite to eat. I had 10 mins before the next meeting and needed food. I was also processing the last meeting and mentally preparing for the next, as I cracked open the egg…right into the trash can. “Lauren, what are you doing?! Click in here, girl” I said to myself. I told my colleagues during the next call what I’d done, we all chuckled because everyone could relate. A couple others shared similar stories. We were all in “zombie mode” or automatic pilot… just going through the motions, not present, not aware, and completely sapped.
Subsequently, I was driving to an appointment a couple days later. I plugged in the address and my arrival time was exactly 2 minutes before my appointment time. “Perfect!”, I thought. However, the roads were icy, so we all needed to slow down. I thought, “I should have left earlier, now I’ll be late.” (Which for a Type A person like myself is a “sin”) Ironically, as I slowed down to a safe speed, my arrival time did not change. Not only was I safe I was also on time. It was another good reinforcement for me.
The holidays couldn’t have come at a better time. Although, I can’t think of anyone who is feeling very festive this year. But EVERYONE definitely needed a break! How many times have I said in the last couple of weeks, “Everyone is hanging on by a thread and now that thread is fraying.” or “Who knew it could get even more exhausting?” And yet, here we are still hanging on, still persisting, still putting one foot in front of the other. We are a resilient bunch, and we will make it through. We may have bumps and bruises, but I also anticipate that we will be stronger and better than before. We are learning important life lessons if we allow ourselves to pay attention. (Like don’t open an egg over the trash can)
One lesson I hope we learn is that we don’t HAVE to move at the speed of sound. That there is value in slowing down. Being more intentional, thoughtful, present. Our society has conditioned us to take pride in being busy. Wearing “exhaustion” like a badge of honor. Bragging about how many meetings we’ve had or all there is on our “to do” list. I am definitely guilty of this. I love the sense of accomplishment, checking things off that list. However, I don’t like the feeling of anxiety or angst or not being able to fully attend to whatever task is in front of me. That isn’t fair to me or to those with whom I work.
One of the benefits of heading into a break is things quiet down. I relish opportunities to shut out distractions, to be thoughtful, contemplative with myself or a small group of colleagues to plan “next steps”. To me, this is when the real work happens. We can be creative, think outside of the box, explore new ideas instead of just reacting and going with the norm. It makes me think about what someone shared with me regarding the definition of insanity, “continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. We can’t keep going like this, somethings gotta give and it can’t be our health and well-being (anymore).
Those slow moments don’t just happen. They have to be forced. It is hard to push back against the tide (or tidal wave). But it is essential, if we are going to protect ourselves, one another, the young ones who look to us so we can create new, safer spaces for our school communities. These last couple of years, and even especially here in Michigan the last few weeks have raised our consciousness to do better. We must!
As we head into a New Year, my hope is that we can collectively commit to deliberately avoiding the rat race and being intentional about going SLOW. It is not easy; it is hard but not impossible (see Oct 2022 blog). We do have a choice. Whatever and wherever our finish line may be, even if we go slow, we will get there, and right on time! Here’s to a new (& better) 2022! HNY!