Seeking beauty for self care.
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
The start of a new school year is stressful. All educators know that. It’s exhilarating preparing our classrooms, planning exciting learning experiences and meeting our students. However, as gratifying as all that is, there is a flip side – anxiety, stress, and feeling like there is never enough time to do everything. I know this happens every year, but maybe I am more aware this year, as since reading ‘Balance Like a Pirate’ by Jessica Cabeen, Jessica Johnson and Sarah Johnson, I am focused on balance - and there has been a significant lack of balance in my quadrants for the past couple of months. The positional quadrant has definitely dominated, followed by the professional and passion quadrants, however the personal quadrant has most decidedly been neglected. In addition to feeling out of balance, I've also felt down and out of sorts. I knew I needed to take action.
One of my #BalanceLAP personal goals was self-care, which is why over the past week, I have been intentional about taking moments to slow down, even stop albeit ever so briefly, to look around and take notice – notice of how I am feeling, notice of my surroundings and notice of the beauty that can be found in the every day.
Taking notice of the beauty of my surroundings at home and while walking around my neighbourhood.
Taking notice of the birds that regularly visit my backyard.
Taking notice of the rainbow after the storm.
Taking notice of this beautiful location during professional development around Indigineous Cultural Intelligence. I can certainly appreciate why Aboriginal people have such a strong connection to country.
In his book, ‘Sanctuaries’, Dan Tricarico, shares the concept of the 5S’s – Silence, Stillness, Subtraction, Space and Slowing Down. So I’ve taken the advice of 'The Zen Teacher', and have been incorporating these practices, mainly silence and slowing down, into my day as much as possible. Being purposeful with these one or two small actions is having a big impact. I am feeling calmer, happier and more positive. I am able to prioritise and focus better. I am more able to be the person I want to be – for my family, my students and colleagues, and most importantly, myself.
And how is taking notice of my surroundings helping the educator me? Aside from the aforementioned feeling calmer, happier and more positive, it’s helping me be intentional about taking notice of other things – many of which we know are important, but which can be overlooked when we are feeling overwhelmed.
Notice of how my students arrive at school, or return to class after break time.
Notice of student engagement and the flow of a lesson.
Notice of the small interactions with, and between, students.
Notice of my colleagues and how they are feeling.
Notice of my responses to events, issues, and other people.
Being intentional about noticing these things means I can be intentional about responding. By practising silence and slowing down, I’m also making mental space to respond in a calm, rational and positive way to the myriad of matters that arise during the day.
I believe being aware of the need for balance and self-care, along with a plan to help you achieve it, is vital for all educators. But ultimately it is our responsibility to pursue it. I feel like I’m finally getting it together for this school year…even if we are already seven weeks in!