Yesterday (November 7 2015) the #leadup twitter chat was about white space, which was a new term but not concept to me. For years, my mom has taken 15 minutes each afternoon to put her feet up. She lies on the floor and rests her lower legs on a chair so that her hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Somewhere along her life, she learned that this would help her recalibrate and energize for the evening, a time when she was typically tired. I saw it as akin to meditation or the savasana time in yoga classes (to which I haven’t attended very many) and it worked or her. I like to run and most often do by myself. I wrote in journals for years and years, but haven’t lately. I like to cook and read novels and write letters. But lately cooking and birthday cards have felt like chores and a cold/flu prevented me from running this past week.
The twitter chat was focused how educational leaders need to take quiet, reflective time for themselves so they can be the best, most effective leaders for their staffs, students, and own families. Highlights of the fast, furious, and inspiring chat can be found at the storify here. For me it was inspiring because I found comfort reading how teachers and administrators around the country both struggle with taking time for themselves as well as have been successful finding white space among all the noise of education today.
A man from MD I’ve never chatted with before posted the above graphic and it really spoke to me. I had been thinking that living with a guy who’s relearning language, I have PLENTY of quiet time to myself yet still felt sad and worn down this week. Perhaps that’s because while our home is often quiet I do not feel peaceful or calm. Instead I worry about Zack, his progress and his mindset; I worry about Holm Construction, its clients and employees, and lately I worry a lot about my masters coursework which feels like a big wave pounding me into the ground.
The #leadupchat couldn’t have come at a better time. I came away knowing that I need to take control for the calm in my heart to return. Yesterday afternoon my dear friend Ashley took time out of her home improvement weekend to have a cup of coffee with me. Then I listened to a thoughtful vox from my friend Sandy who was able to turn her own frustration into gratitude and share that with a group of friends. Lastly, I read that my friend Mark was thinking about trying some new recipes this weekend. All of this really helped turn my frown upside down. After finishing today’s homework, making sure the Patriots remained undefeated (by wearing a Patriots sweatshirt, obviously) and helping Zack practice some /k/ and /g/ word lists, the wind finally brought in the low pressure and accompanying snow flurries! I immersed myself in the kitchen. I listened absentmindedly to pop culture podcasts, sliced, diced and sang to myself, washed cutting boards so I could use them again, and completely forgot about everything else. As I type, there are sugared cranberries and marmalade resting for the night, butternut squash peanut soup with onion and squash from our csa box on the stove top, and baked apples in the oven. Snow is accumulating on our deck, the house smells delicious, and I feel grateful for taking time for myself.
Making time for ourselves is hard and doesn’t come naturally for educators who willingly entered a profession predicated on giving to others all day long. But it is imperative so we can be the best we can be for ourselves, our families at home, and our school communities as well. Whether or not Mother Nature lets me wake up to a blank and white space tomorrow morning does not dictate what I can do to make sure I give myself time for reflection and recalibration.