Teacher-Friends: We Live in a Strange, Scary Time
Teacher-friends, I wanted to check in on you. How are you? Are you well? If you are struggling, I hear you.
Between the end of summer school and the beginning of the school year, my whole family came down with something horrible.
It started with a bad headache and sore throat. Then moved on to a fever. My 16-year-old had a fever for 11 days straight. With the fever came body aches, a runny nose, diarrhea, stomachaches, brain fog and extraordinary fatigue – the kind that had us sleeping for days and wondering if we were ever going to feel well. And that cough. The everywhere, anytime kind of cough that wears you out.
Two of us got COVID tested. The results were negative, but our caregivers and employers were suspicious, and required us to quarantine, anyway. I missed the first day of school, sitting at home, doing my lesson plans and worrying about my husband, who had a heart transplant in January, and had the highest fever of all of us. I moved an air mattress into our home office. My son holed up in his room (not a huge disadvantage for a teen – it’s their natural habitat). My husband would occasionally stand outside my door and look forlornly in, or bring me a cup of coffee to set on the corner of my desk before he retreated.
At this writing, I am back at work, documenting my daily symptoms. My son is still quarantining until he feels better (24 hours without a fever, so far). The one we worried about the most seemed to bounce back the quickest – thank God! I know that many people had it far worse than us, health wise. Many of you have, no doubt, had to change your work schedules to accommodate your own children’s return to school. Some people are still wondering if they will ever go back to work. Some of you may have lost loved ones, and are grieving as you get ready to return to work. There are so many things uncertain, and we teachers crave having the right answer!
The Importance of Self-Care for Caregivers
This COVID-19 / not COVID-19 thingy that we all had in my home has given me pause to consider how well (or not) I fill my own cup, being a natural cup-filler. For those of us who are also in a helping profession, filling others’ cups is part of our day-to-day existence, so much so, that we will come to school sick rather than disrupt the kids’ learning with a sub, or stay up all night to create something wonderful or catch up with household tasks after spending all the daylight hours on work-related things. Add small children, being a chauffeur for sports, or caring for an ill family member, and we have a recipe for physical and mental collapse.
Self-care is probably not something that comes naturally for many of us. I know I have developed the habit, since we closed our physical school last March, of putting a 3-hr block in my planner that says “SELF-CARE.” In that block, I put things that fill my cup, restore my energy (mental and physical) and nurture my soul and spirit.
Is your cup filled? What’s emptying it? What do you use to re-fill it?
You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup – So Fill It
Start today. Block your planner into 3-hr segments with a “theme” for each. Put one major task in each block – don’t pack the block full – that’s not realistic. Make sure one of the blocks says, “Self-Care.” Guard it selfishly. Fill it with things that refresh you and bring you back to your peaceful center.
During August, I focused on the following cup-filling activities:
- Spending time with my family. We binge-watched six seasons of Vikings. Now I feel the desperate need to cover my body with Norse tattoos. Or fight with swords and giant hammers. And drink mead. Skål.
- Doing lesson “planny” things. Those are lesson planning tasks without the pressure of HAVING to do them. I love lesson planning. I’m playing around with Google Classroom, Google Slides (I found this AWESOME filing cabinet for organizing my digital lesson plans!), and the Conferring Notebook from the Daily CAFE.
- Cooking. I put Pandora on shuffle, and get to getting. I’m into soup and cooking with herbs from my garden these days.
- Puttering in the garden. I don’t have a big garden. It’s more like a kitchen garden. I had salad greens, cherry tomatoes, lots of fresh herbs, and the best radishes. It was just too hot to be out there this summer. But there’s something soul-satisfying about grabbing a handful of something I grew and throwing it in what I’m cooking. It’s like kitchen magick.
- Reading. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about ancient ways, especially in the British Isles. I’m of Italian-Irish descent, so I love going WAY back and finding my cultural and spiritual roots. For example, did you know that we just passed out of the Coll Moon? In Gaelic, coll means “the spirit/power within.” A fitting theme for a post on self-care. I’m also…
- Buying books. Just window shopping and making wish lists is peaceful. One book on my short list is Soul Nourishment, by Deborah Haddix.
- Praying and meditating. I created a prayer and meditation corner in my office. I start and end my day there every day. I also have discovered the joys of washi tape and journal embellishment. For me, there’s nothing more centering than using art materials along with my writing tools, when I journal daily during meditation.
- Writing. I write. And write. And write. I try to aim for 2000 words at a time, and do this many times a day. A full post is intimidating, but I can bang it out in small chunks.
Set a Goal for Daily Self-Care
What will you do to keep yourself in that peaceful center in September? Share your best self-care tips – sharing IS caring! And check out the link, above, to see my Pinterest board on “Finding the Peaceful Center.”