I slept terribly for the last 2 nights.  All of the planning and work we did on Day 1 of Distance Learning Planning was exhausting and we left with more questions than answers. Day 2 was filled with waving at students from afar as their families picked up work, iPads, and items from their lockers to get them through if school is closed longer than 3 weeks.  We sent home books and if families asked to check out from our library, the only limit was how many books they could carry. The fact that the MN governor's office has given us this gift of 2 full weeks to completely change the way we teach and kids learn is also a call to excellence.

Last night, it was everything I could do to not start sobbing and pull it together for my family at home.

We can't just throw together an enrichment board and check-in with students sometimes, we need to be prepared to actually teach them the standards, differentiate for all levels, accommodate differences in family support and technology access, honor special ed plans, in addition to caring for our own families and teaching our small kids at home, too.

The work is ever-changing and we are trying to work together to be cohesive and thoughtful.  As encouraged and optimistic as I am, at the beginning of a challenging climb is always overwhelming. And last night, I woke up several times with an anxious pit feeling in my stomach. I know my teachers are feeling the same.

However, I feel really equipped to handle such volatile and scary times. Because in the best of times I started taking care of myself first, the bad times seem more manageable.  Before we even get in to what to do next, we need to start within.  When we are whole, we can give so much more. Here's a compilation of how I'm dealing with all of this. I hope something on here reaches your soul today.

  1. Your physical needs come first. 
    • Eat well. Lots of veggies and fruits alongside solid protein and fiber-filled carbs.  Find "comfort food" that also nourishes you. Simple veggie-based soups, food on the grill, pot roast with extra salad first.  Try to avoid packaged food when you can. I roasted a head of garlic last night and spread individual cloves on crusty bread. Delicious!
    • Drink water. A lot of it! Your energy, mood, and overall feeling of wellbeing is often tied to this. If you need some flavoring, I like to add a couple drops of Young Living Vitality Citrus Fresh or Tangerine oil to my big thermal cup. 
    • Sleep. Go to bed early. Your sleep is the thing you can do for your wellbeing and so many of us think it's skippable.  My life is easier when I am well-rested.  I'm more creative, patient, and able to solve problems. It's easier to handle my emotions.  You all know that your students who don't sleep enough are a mess at school.  You are not different, just more practiced at coping. 
    • Get some movement. Outside, a home workout, dance party in your living room.  It doesn't matter. Just move. 
  2. Work on your mind. 
    • Years ago when I was going through an awful time (death of a close friend and brain surgery) - I learned that I could fill my belly with wine and chocolate to feel better for a moment, or I could fill my soul with hope.  The soul work helped me on that phyiscal body focus AND on the emotional side.  Check out the more resources page for my favorite podcasts and audiobooks.  Turn of the news, shut down the social media stream and relax to one of these pep talks for your life. A little bit every day makes a huge difference in how you look at the world. 
  3. Manage the feelings. They are real.  
    •  I listen to the Calm app in my bed, laying down cozy style. I simply listen and let my mind wander where it will as the soothing voice guides my thoughts. If I fall asleep, awesome! If I don't, I feel more grounded. 
    • This book, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein, got me through the anxiety of brain surgery and I've got it on repeat again now.  
  4. Recognize that growth and discomfort is what makes us better.
    • Think back to your proudest moments.  Were they things that came easy to you? Accomplishing goals are ALWAYS sweeter when the work was hard first.  As we navigate some really hard work right now, keep in mind that you will be proud of what you did in the end. 
  5. Practice Gratitude and Celebrate Small Wins
    • The work seems overwhelming and the world out of control, and that big win and rush of pride we are hoping for is a long way off.  In the meantime, think of the small wins each day.  No, you haven't launched a full lesson online today, but did you learn how to use video conference software? Did you identify the priorities - even if you haven't taken action on them yet? Are you grateful for a little extra sleep or time with your family because other activities are canceled? Are you grateful that you didn't have to fight with your most challenging student today? As you find yourself feeling defeated - look to the little things to celebrate.
  6. Find positive connection.
    • If your social media is full of a bunch of anxious people, unfollow them or spend time in positive groups. Search hashtags of cute dogs and comment on Instagram posts from a few weeks ago, call a friend or practice that video chat software and talk about the latest book, craft project,  or trashy tv show you have in common. Play video games with your kids and laugh and giggle and smile as much as you can. 
  7. Journal
    • Your grandkids want to know about this someday.  This is a time for the history books.  It's temporary, and we will never be the same.  I believe we will be better. 

We are human BEINGS - not human doings. Give yourself permission to slow down, take care of you first, and your natural need to serve and give will feel effortless. I can't wait to look back and see how proud we are of the work we did and how far we have come. Thank you for being with me on the journey.