WHY WE NEED TO GIVE OURSELVES GRACE AND FIND JOY IN THE EVERYDAY
The last three years have been a lot! It is important that as educators and really just as human beings we acknowledge and reflect upon what is serving us and what we would like to change moving forward.
On World Mental Health Day I think it is apt to acknowledge that the last three years have been challenging to put it mildly. Being in Melbourne and having experienced one of the longest lockdowns on the globe came with some significant impacts. I must acknowledge that whilst I was struggling, I was in a relatively privileged situation. Both myself and partner were still working and our family was healthy. But in 2020 with a preppie and pre-schooler and in 2021 with a preppie and Grade 1 it was tough going. I was working as a Careers Counsellor and working with Year 12s who were also facing so much uncertainty. The juggle was real. I was working in an amazing school that was able to adapt as best they could under the circumstances. I know that others' experiences were very different and were not so supported. The toll on mental health individually and collectively across the community has been immense.
As an example of my state of mind during lockdown I will recall a time where my phone went missing. I had just got off a teams meeting with a student and recalled wondering where my phone had got to? I promptly tapped my 'find my phone' feature on my watch that normally had my phone beeping and in my hands in no time. However, there was no beeping, not even a beep. In fact, the feature didn't really seem to respond at all. I asked everyone to turn volumes down. And so, the interrogations ensued. I thought a carrot of a Macca's (McDonalds for those not in Australia) lunch would bring out the culprit or at least my phone would miraculously appear. But this did not happen, and I got the feeling that they in fact had no idea where it was. I looked everywhere... Two days later in between meetings I was making the daily ham and cheese toastie and ran to get bread out of a second freezer in the garage. Well, you guessed it - there it was! Asleep in the freezer... I brought it into the kitchen and placed it gently on the bench. It did return to life; in fact I still have it to this day. Miracles do happen! Oh yes, and the kids did get a Macca's lunch, I honoured the deal I had made as they swiftly reminded me that there was no caveat that they needed to find the phone, only that it was found! This is a rather light hearted account and in truth my son really struggled and there were many tears along the way but we got through.
So, 2022 brought a new year (although this is what we thought in 2021, so we sheepishly moved into 2022). Moving on and entering 2022 with relatively few restrictions life had returned. For me I had decided to take a different path and to start my own business and more recently moved into a part-time teaching role that I adore. My pace has slowed. And I needed it to. I don’t have the capacity that I once did, or to put it more honestly, I do not want to go back to the frantic pace I for so long worked at. Our mornings before school drop off have a much different feel as I have really designed a new life tempo. Don't get me wrong it's not always smooth sailing. I am still working on boundaries and the integration of work and life (no, not work life balance) is a constant work in progress. Especially because I love what I am doing so much!
I know many that have jumped back into life full speed ahead. I want to say to you if you feel overwhelmed or just want to slow down again- you are not alone! You can make decisions to find a pace that works for you. Kids don’t need an activity every day of the week. They need time to rest too and are also still recovering. I know it is tempting as we so want to make up for lost time, but we do need to be mindful and conscious of everyone's energy levels. Saying no is also ok.
At the start of Term 4 I was keen to get back to my classes and into my business. It feels light and purposeful, and I am so excited about my plans for my business. At B U Careers my mission is to help students design a life and career that they love and my programs support students to do this. I hope everyone can continue to reflect upon their own lives and see what changes (big or small) they would like to make. Even if you cannot make them straight away, you can put plans in place to work towards them. Wishing everyone the best for Term 4 or whatever term you are embarking upon. Remember to give yourself and those around you grace as we navigate our lives with the best of intentions and varying energy levels. And make some time for fun, whatever that looks like for you! What we can take away from the last few years is that it is often the simple, unplanned activities that can bring us the most joy...