As we approach a new year, many of us will prepare our vision boards, to-do lists or new years resolutions in hopes that the new year will be more prosperous in our personal or professional lives. March of 2021, marked a full year of the covid-19. For some this was a time of loss, disappointment and struggle. For many it was a time of reflection, growth, and abundance. All of us as human beings have dealt with the pandemic year and aftermath in our own unique ways. As a school leader attempting to deal with the aftermath of the educational covid year, we were reminded of the benefits to our students and families, however, we are also faced with the realities of the residual effects of the pandemic on some of our student’s learning, family dynamics and mental health. As some have retreated back to suffering in silence for fear of appearing unable to handle such a huge task or continue to deal with the societal issues that show up in our classrooms daily, others have found ways to deal with their shortcomings via care of self and family.
Instead of sharing with you what I typically do with my staff during this time of year, I am compelled to share with you what I did for myself and family. You see, there is something to the analogy of placing the oxygen mask on yourself before trying to attempt to take care of others. As a school leaders we are so used to putting our own needs last and it shows up in ways such as spending your own holiday money on things for your staff because you are limited on the types of funding that can be used in schools. Staying late in the building so you have quiet time to get the things done that you did not have time to get done during the day. Popping in on a weekend for 30 minutes to pick something up or prepare something for Monday when you know darn well, it turns into 2 hours. Committing to implement a district initiative in your building when you are drowning with monitoring the 4 already currently in place. Or flying out of of your parking lot on 2 wheels to make it to your child’s school performance or game before they realize that you have not been there since the beginning. What ever putting others self care needs before your own looks like, it needs to be re-examined.
My leadership coach and friend recently asked me, “What were you doing this time last year?” As I think about that question, this is what comes to mind. This time last year, I was sitting down with my family creating our family goals, action steps and vision boards. I charged my family, from my husband down to my then 2 year old, with writing and creating a vision board for the 2021 year. As we watched Steve Harvey’s YouTube video clip “Write Your Vision.,” I was reminded about the power of intention and expectation. When I tell you this was a game changer for me! Following watching the video, we ventured off to work on our vision boards. We pulled out our favorite snacks, magazines, markers, mini-tri-boards, etc. Not only was this a bonding experience for us as a family, but it allowed our children to see their parents intentionality in setting goals and creating belief around these goals that they will come to fruition. To this day, my now 4 and 7 year olds still have their boards in their bedrooms. Throughout the year I checked in with my family to see how they were doing with their vision board and lists. We became each other’s accountability partners.
During this past year, I chose to activate my audacity (“a willingness to take bold risks”) by being intentional in my gratitude, morning practices and taking care of self. By taking these bold risks, I was able to accomplish many of my vision board items. Each day, well, most days, as part of my morning practice, I began my journaling by writing and expressing my gratitude. This allowed me to show how grateful I was for the small and large things, which in turn allowed me to manifest many of my desires into my personal life. I ventured out to write an Amazon best selling book with 4 other fearless colleagues. I gained new friendships, connections, accolades and discoveries. All by setting intentions and expectations for abundance. As all of these risks unfolded and revealed how powerful gratitude is when you are taking risks, nothing could prepare me for one of the greatest risks I would have to face by far.
My breast cancer diagnosis this school year was one of the greatest reminders I could receive regarding the importance of taking care of one’s self. Although, I could have allowed this diagnosis to take over my mindset of gratitude, I knew that I had still had so much to be thankful for including being thankful that I listened to my body which resulted in an early stage diagnosis. Something that started from a sore arm for over a month, could have quickly turned out differently. Now that I am coming out on the other side, I promised myself that I would encourage others in leadership roles to take time for themselves and their families. And as much as we love our schools and the communities in which they reside, we have to love ourselves more.
So as you set your new intentions and expectations for the 2022 year, be sure to start with YOU first. Moving forward, I commit to putting my oxygen mask on first!
Peace and blessing for the new year!
Principal Captain Kirk!