Who Might You Be?

September, for me, is all about possibilities. I always feel a sense of hope and optimism. The past year and a half has been tough, and we could all use some hope and optimism, couldn’t we? If I am being completely honest with myself, however, that hope and optimist is tempered with some healthy skepticism and practical concern. But for now, let’s focus on the possibilities, the hope, the optimism.

A return to school is, for me, a return to work. It is a return to doing the work that brings me a sense of purpose and joy – supporting learners in overcoming challenges, discovering with them the passions that fuel their souls, providing opportunities to become who they might be. This year, I am working both with Adolescent Learners in our Alternative Education programs and with Adult Learners in our Adult Education programs. What I love about these learners is that they all have a story. Every one of them has faced an obstacle and decided to overcome it. Many of them didn’t know how they were going to do it. They just knew they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to reach a goal.

I want to be like that too. As I look on my life, I have faced challenges. As I look on the last year, three years, five years, I can see the obstacles and the struggle to overcome. Sometimes those obstacles and struggles have motivated me and sometimes they have held me back.

Who Might I Be?

If I decided today that no challenge, no illness, no age, no global pandemic or circumstance or relationship would keep me from living the life I dream of, who might I be?

If I decided to stop making excuses and to stop being ruled by other people’s opinions of me, who might I be?

If I remembered, every day, that we get this one wild and precious life, what might I do with mine?

So, as the days grow a little shorter and the nights a little cooler, and as the children playing in the streets turn into children heading off to school, I wonder what possibilities await? How about you? Who might you be today? This season? This year? What possibilities await you?

It’s been seven months since I posted on this blog. I hope you will join me as I explore this idea of possibilities and as I unpack what possibilities await me (and us?) as we move forward with hope and optimism (and maybe a little skepticism).

Go Where You Feel Most Alive

Wouldn’t it be great if this was a post about going somewhere? Anywhere?

We may not be able to jump on a plane and head to a warm beach resort, or to a mountain retreat, or to visit landmarks and cultures and people that enrich our lives.

But we always have the chance to go where we feel most alive.

Whether we are deciding where to live or what job opportunities to pursue, we always have a choice to go where we feel most alive.

We can decide which people to invite into our lives, or which people to keep in our inner circle by going where we feel most alive.

When I wake up in the morning, I can choose how to begin my day. Will I wake up and create a morning routine which enriches my life and boosts my energy in the morning. Or will I wake up and doom scroll, watch tv and drag myself into work? I can choose to go where I feel most alive.

Going where I feel most alive is all about choosing the people, places, routines, activities and opportunities that make me feel energized and fierce. It’s about creating spaces and relationships where we know we are truly living and participating, and not simply observing.

One day, hopefully soon, we will also be able to choose to go to the places where we feel most alive. Where will you go? Or will you go anywhere at all? Will you visit new places or settle down somewhere to create a home? Will you seek to meet new people, or strengthen the bonds you have with the people you hold dear now?

Wherever you go, and whatever you do, I hope you choose what makes you feel most alive.

Remember the Pause

I don’t know about you, but I feel like my life is not slowing down at all in this pandemic. I find I am ramped up, taking on too many things, not sleeping at night because I can’t get my mind to rest. I am missing the outlets which once provided time and space to decompress and to release pent up energy. I am missing the moments of pause in my day.

Yesterday I was listening to a daily meditation in which I was invited to be aware of the pause which comes at the beginning and end of each inhale and each exhale. We don’t normally pay attention to our breath. We are barely aware of it most of the time. But in this moment, I could stop and recognize the pause.

When we are feeling restless or overwhelmed, we can take a moment to remember the pause. Sit in that pause and notice it for what it is. As we focus on that pause, perhaps we can find a moment of calm for our minds, a moment of peace for our hearts, and a moment of stillness in our day.

The pause may be the most important part of our day. It snaps us out of autopilot and allows us to reset.

The pause. The breath. The pause again.

When I stop and recognize the pause, I feel a slowing down. I make clearer decisions. I can rest. I may not be able to go to the places and do the things I used to do. But I can breathe. And I can pause.

How do you bring a moment of stillness into your day?

Find Your Feet

This week I received some disappointing news. I had interviewed for a program I hoped to be a part of, and was not offered a place in that program. In the moment, I was sad and disappointed. And then, as I often do, I took it personally and moved to embarrassment, shame and questioning my worth. It’s as if my mind moved from this not being a good fit for me, to me not being worthy.

Fortunately, I have been working on strategies to bring myself back to reality when my mind begins spinning and I start catastrophizing situations. Grounding in the present helps me to see what is actually happening. Grounding keeps me from letting my mind judge my value. Grounding allows me to see the situation as it actually is, and quiet the stories in my head about what the disappointment “means” about me as a person.

So how do I find my feet and ground into the present moment?

One way is Gratitude.

When I am able to stop, take a breath and recognize the things I am grateful for, I slow the spinning and I am able to notice what is happening right now.

So, what can I be grateful for? Surely as we enter a second lockdown, wondering when this pandemic will ever end, it can be difficult to consider gratitude. But this is precisely when we need it. We can’t go out and entertain ourselves with movies and drinks at bars, concerts or museums. But we can be grateful for the technology which allows us to connect with family and friends when we can’t be together, for time learning new card games and opportunities to organize our homes or clean out our closets. I can be grateful for my job and my home and my family being safe and healthy. I can find gratitude for the breath I take, for the food I enjoy cooking and the snow I can shovel to get exercise and fresh air.

These practices help me remember that there are things in my control and things not in my control. I may not be able to control the world around me. I may not be able to control the stay at home order. I may not be able to control the outcome of the interview. But I can control the environment in my home. I can control how I use the time during the stay at home order. And I can step back and see the interview result as an opportunity to learn and grow as a leader, to find more time to focus on my current job, which brings me joy and feels meaningful. I can view it as not being a good fit for me and for the program. But it doesn’t mean I am any less worthy.

So, I will take a deep breath. I will root my feet into the ground. I will close my eyes and I will take a moment to feel the gratitude. It may not change what is going on around me. But it certainly will change what is happening within me.

What can you be grateful for today?

Check In With Your People

Friends, this is not going to be a post about how I am going to try something new or how I am going to reframe some negative thinking I have. Though both of these are good to remember to do.

Today, I just need to make a request.

Please check in with your people.

Please check in with the ones who you know are struggling. They need to know they are not alone.

Please check in with the ones who are isolated or living alone. We all need to feel connected, and during the pandemic, feelings of loneliness have become amplified.

Please check in with your friends who are parenting while working from home, or schooling from home, or both. Parenting, working, and teaching are three separate jobs and your friend may be doing the job of three people. They are burning out. Please check in with them.

Please check in with the strong ones. The ones who are always there for others. Please check in with your people who work in helping professions, who must often set aside their own pain, their own feelings of anger or pain or fear that so many of us are feeling during this pandemic, in order to hold space for others’ pain.

Please check in with the ones who seem to be handling everything really well. Some of us are really good at masking how we really feel because we don’t want to make others uncomfortable.

Just check in with your people. Like we did when all this started. We still need each other. We still need connection.

And please, if someone calls or texts you to check in, be honest about how you are doing. Appreciate the ones who take the time and the care to check in with you.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay connected.

%d bloggers like this: