a few days ago i sent out a reminder to stop and breathe and be present as our country headed into the last three day weekend of the summer. my message today is similar. if you are a parent (or grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc), a student, a teacher, or a person who knows anyone who fits into one of those categories...read on.
school starts for many this week. this means that there are thousands of people rushing to gather school supplies, find the perfect first day outfit, put the finishing touches on lesson plans or classrooms, and, generally, look toward kicking off a “whole new year.”
for some this is a time of immense relief. tomorrow can’t come soon enough. i am exhausted of summer and the lack of routine. it’s about time for some me time. i can’t wait to meet my students/teacher. fall is the best.
for others this is a time of immense worry and fear. how will we get out the door in the morning? how will i make lunches for a year? what if my child cries when i leave her at school? what if my child cheers when i leave him at school (indicating he’s so relieved to be done with me from the summer months)? what if my child’s teacher hates me? what if my teacher hates me? what if my students hate me? what if my classmates hate me? what if i can’t handle the challenges of the school year? how will i ever manage all that fall has to hand me?
for everyone facing into the changes that school brings, this is a time to stop and breathe. just as before, i’ll give you some space here to do so.
seriously. take some space to sit down, feel the ground under you, and just breathe.
from this place of grounded stillness ask yourself what is important right now. not, what am i supposed to do right now? instead, what is truly important right now? again, here’s some space to do so. what is important right now?
without taking time to really listen to your self you might be addressing all the wrong tasks today. your classroom might seem “perfect” with that one final finishing touch that you feel tempted to spend the whole day on but the exhaustion of doing so may leave you emotionally unprepared to greet your students with your full and rested self. your first day of school breakfast and packed lunches may be worthy of gracing the cover of “world’s best parent” magazine and yet the time you’d spend creating them may steal you away from the important work of cuddling up in the way your child needs you to before heading off for a whole new year. of perhaps the exact opposite is true and that classroom “pop” and the traditional amazing breakfast might be the very things that will give you and your students/child life.
the point is, all the racing and rushing and feeling and cultural frenetic-ness can pull us off track, redirecting us without our even realizing it. and we can stop it. when we do so, we offer ourselves the opportunity to live life with greater intention and with attention to what really matters to us personally (and our children and students and teachers). the culture is happy to provide us with what it believes is important but do we really stop and determine, for our unique selves and the unique selves of those we share space with, what is important to us as we begin a new school year?
if you’ve known me for more than five minutes you know i am a huge believer that IT IS EASIER TO ESTABLISH HEALTHY NORMS THAN TO BREAK BAD HABITS.
norms provide us with structure and a spotting point of sorts. without sitting down on the ground, breathing deep, and attending to what is important to us personally we may never know which norms we want to choose to live by as we begin a new school year. when i finally realized that i didn’t really care how my kids looked when they went off to school but that i cared immensely that they hop out of the car feeling loved by a mom who believed in them, it helped me establish school morning norms that we thrived within. i stopped sending them back to their rooms to find clothes that matched (pure habit) and simply saw past the clothes to the inside of who they were (new norm) leaving us with extra time for morning connection.
there are a million ways of living by habit and very few of living intentionally. this lesser taken path involves a lot of sitting, breathing, and taking a minute or two (seriously, it’s all it takes) to make conscious choices about how and what you attend to. it feels odd, when there are a million things to tend to, to drop to the floor and breathe but it might just save your day and the days of those around you.
so, with that all said, breathe in and then breathe out. ask yourself,
what’s important now?
what does my habitual self feel tempted to tend to?
if i were intentional about what i need and what those around me genuinely need, how might i spend this moment?
what do i need to let go of in order to be more fully present to myself and others right now?
and, most importantly, how can i return to and live from this grounded place more consistently as the chaos that is september ensues?
just as “only you can prevent forest fires,” only you can set the tone for your day. in so doing you set the tone for the days of others and for the cumulative days of the year. this is best done sitting on the floor, breathing in and out, and finding your self.