I’m am writing this blog post as a series of questions but it is actually a reframing of my New Year’s Resolutions. I am undaunted by the fact that I have been writing the same resolutions using different words and forms for many years. To believe that we cannot become better is to admit defeat. Like my mother, I am an eternal optimist. Although things did not always turn out as planned or hoped for or prayed for – she put steadfast belief that people could become their best selves, as did all three of my grandmothers. Strong women that worked with deliberate intention.
I have German and Scottish roots and perhaps because of that, a well developed work ethic. I also have a creative mind and need for little sleep, so the possibilities in life are endless. Unfortunately time is not. I continue to struggle with the limits of a 24 hour day. In the past, it has been all about creating work / life balance. My colleague, Brian Kuhn, frames that best as “working to live” as opposed to living to work. However at times, my life has become frenetic in trying to get things done. My first question is how can I discipline myself to work less and maintain balance?
The quest to balance body/ mind / spirit has often been in the “life outside of work” end of the teeter totter and “work” on the opposite end. Because there is a plethora of competing demands and imminent needs everyday in my job, during the school year the teeter totter is most often is grounded in the problem solving and minutia on the work side. The natural school break times do allow me to refocus priorities, replenish my energy reserves and reframe my next go in the elusive quest for balance. This seems to be the times I play catch up with creative possibilities, physical and spiritual wellness.
Yes, these are the times of the “ultimate oxymoron” – the power relax. Although laughter is a key part of my stress management at work and enjoyment of life, it isn’t enough. My latest and greatest power relax is the salt float. My cousin in Cairo is right, it’s not the Dead Sea. It is 90 minutes of floating in highly concentrated salt water, all by myself in the ocean room of the pristine Halsa Spa in Kits. Like being a noodle in soup. My preference is no sound and no light but ambient sound and the blue light and the pod option, work too. Reading, yoga, cardio activity (walking/ hiking, biking, skiing / boarding, swimming, golfing ), sunshine when possible, good wine and socializing with people I enjoy – all build up my depleted energy reserves. How do I maintain the balance to maintain long term energy reserves?
Over time I have been changing my perception of balance to be more of a teeter totter with triangular seats on either end. How can I carve out the time and place to meet physical, spiritual and intellectual needs at work and maintain enough energy to create the same balance at home? The goal is to avoid the frenetic pace I maintain at work and then collapse in front of the News, Murdoch Mysteries and Modern Family.
My school is right beside the Pacific Spirit Park and Acadia Beach and most classes regularly engage in outdoor learning. All but the most torrential days are outdoor days during recess and lunch. The school is less than 20 minutes from four golf courses. I can ride my bike to school in 40 minutes or less, depending how energetic I am on the big hill. My husband and I live right beside the beach and already walk to shop, see movies, eat out or go to church. How can I extend that to get enough exercise at home and work to maintain a healthy perspective and body?
My work first as a teacher, then a teaching vice principal and now as a principal have afforded me many opportunities to participate in rich face to face opportunities for professional learning. Participation in social media has added another layer to access information and connect with people online. Blogging has incorporated more depth to personal reflection because it is public and invites further conversation. The many challenges of implementing curriculum change and adapting to societal change creates stress and possibility in all school communities. My current school has students speaking 34 different home languages in addition to English. Some students live in the area, others commute and some will return to their home countries when they have learned English or when their parents finish their studies at The University of British Columbia. How can I incorporate the voices and needs and desired directions of our staff, students, parents and community partners with national, provincial, district and community school team directions?
For me, spiritual wellness requires times of quiet reflection or a pause button to stop and be grateful for the people and events unfolding around you. What matters most doesn’t fit on a To Do list with time limits or happen with a perpetual open door policy. Although I participate and grow from participation in organized religion, spiritual wellness is bigger than participation in church activity. Church can be a conduit to spiritual wellness and empathy but unfortunately, I have seen it also used as a weapon to control or justify entitlement and hurtful actions. Fortunately I live in one of the most diverse and profoundly beautiful areas of the world. A walk in the neighbourhood takes my husband and I to the beach, skiing and hiking takes us to the mountains, wine tasting in the interior of BC takes us to the desert, golf takes us to the park, and a walk just beyond the school grounds takes us to the forest. I believe that nature feeds the soul because it speaks the natural beauty and diverse forms of life that surrounds us. On a very foggy late afternoon in December, I was working in my office and happened to look up just in time to see a bald eagle descending down on the playground to scoop up it’s prey. My question is how can I hit the pause button and look up more often?
My goal throughout 2018 is to go about answering my questions. One of my ideas to encourage sharing of ideas is a tea time on the first Friday of the month from 9:15 – 10:15 am at my school. I’d love to hear your thoughts. My student leaders will be providing school tours and talking about their learning at the same time. Good luck with your reframing in 2018.