“What are you willing to surrender today… give back to the earth? So. you can rise again…. new, fresh, and ready to face this glorious world and all it brings…. with eyes of acceptance, wonder, and joy.” – Britt B Steele
I don’t talk about my work life here or on Instagram very often but it is the crux of this lotus. My career in education proceeded rather swiftly. Teacher. Department Chair by age 29. Assistant Principal by age 34. Principal by age 40. I completed my Master’s degree and my law degree while working full time. The one consistency through out this time was that I continually sought to prove myself. To do more and be more for the people I worked with and the teachers and students I served. Once my husband and our children entered my world when I was age 35, 38, and 41 the fast-paced stress-filled lifestyle was fully internalized.
It began to take it’s toll on me in countless ways. The internalized negative self-talk grew louder. The internal stress created by me and the external stress created by the work, materialized physically in my weight, skin, eyes. My resilience diminished. My recovery from stressful situations was slower.
There was a subtle voice that grew louder with each day, until one day I heard it loud and clear, and I realized that I brought it all on myself. It was my own thoughts, fears, assumptions, and pressures that created this environment in which I lived. And, if I created it, I also had the power to change it. This wasn’t about how to balance work and home as a wife and mother and educator. This was about setting a pace I wanted; a pace in which I would be able to thrive, not just make it through each day. With clarity I understood that am able to control my time, how I spend it, and how I feel about it. I put the brakes on, and took the time to really look at my underlying thoughts, goals, and actions.
The first step was to Stop. I took a day by myself to stop. To be comfortable without an agenda. No expectations. No requirements. No obligations. No mobile phone. No computer. Paper and pencil only. This could have been anywhere – a retreat, a hotel, a cabin, my bedroom, the beach. The only requirement was silence and solitude. For me, it was a vacation day in Washington, D.C. I took walks in the city. I swam in the hotel pool. I took a long herbal bath. I reflected and I wrote.
The second step was to Look. I took a long look at my days through the lens of two questions: (1) What time is available in my day? (2) What are the important things to me – the things that fuel me? On a typical day, my work day is from 6:30am – 4:30pm. My list of important things turned out to be much smaller than I expected; everything fit into one of four categories:
- Morning rituals
- Family time
- Evening rituals
I realized I had plenty of time in the morning for my morning rituals, as long as I was willing (and able 🙂 ) to wake up earlier. On the other end of the day. if dinner was at 6:30pm that gave me one hour when I was first home and 2 hours before bed time that was available.
The third step was to create an Outline. I began by writing a description of my ideal day. Keeping in the forefront all of the things I listed above that are important to me and fuel me, I outlined the day – from the minute my eyes opened until they closed again at the end of the day.
I wake up at 4am and my morning ritual begins with stretching and checking in to see how I feel before I even emerge from bed and then a walk with Winston, our bullmastiff. Then, it’s a warming morning beverage, morning yoga, meditation, shower, getting ready for work, laundry, breakfast, and out the door.
When I arrive home it’s family time until 5:30pm, then dinner prep, dinner at 6:30pm, yoga at 7:30pm, and then 8:30pm prep for bed – reading, washing up, no tech, etc.
The final step was to create a Way to implement this plan. I could not do this alone. I realized that I would need others and tools to be successful. Here are three easy changes we made:
Each night of our weekly menu is based upon specific meals:
- Leftover Night
- Bowl Night
- Burger Night
- One Pot Night
- Pizza/Calzone Night
- People’s Choice Night
- And, the one that was added – Girl’s Chef Night. The girls take over dinner prep one night each week. It helps me slow down but more importantly it gives them creative time together. Breakfast is a common theme but sometimes they are more experimental.
The girl’s also took responsibility for several jobs each day. For example, the oldest takes care of trash, wiping down the dinner table, and wiping down the refrigerator doors on Monday night. The youngest straightens the sunroom, feeds the dog, and gets the mail on Thursdays. They learn responsibility for caring for our surroundings, they learn what it means to be a part of a (family) team, and I get to set my pace.
In the beginning I also set an alarm on my phone to help me remember my evening yoga time. I tend to get caught up in the energy of the night and found myself missing my yoga time simply because I forgot about it and when I realized it, it was bedtime. An alarm helped me create a pattern and commitment. My husband protects the time by making sure I am not interrupted so I can focus ❤️.
Slowing down. My body, mind, heart, and spirit are now nourished through this changed pace. I am prepared for anything life’s twists and turns bring, and my recovery to stress is swifter and gentler.
My process – Stop, Look, Outline, Way – worked for me. Each of us must find our own way and our own pace. The magic for me came in realizing that I had the power to choose.
Share in the moments of my life on Instagram.
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