When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? When you’re weighed down by the busy-ness of everything and climbing out of bed each morning gets harder and harder as the week progresses, how do we keep going? As we apply our make-up and put our game face on and walk out that door to face the world, are we happy and relaxed or are we forcing down the feelings of dread and anxiety? I wonder how many of us are lucky enough to jump out of bed each morning and that lemonade is sitting there all ready to be drunk – and how many of us have to laboriously pick the lemons, squeeze them, add a sprinkle of sugar and stir before our lemonade is ready for consumption?
I think there has to be something fundamentally wrong with a profession where there are constant quotes and images posted of before and after shots of teachers – start of the year vs the end. Don’t you agree? And to be honest, there are many days where the text on the images could read “Teacher at the start of the day – Teacher at the end of the day”.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the people I work with and I am very lucky to have wonderful students, but teaching is getting harder and harder. The expectations on teachers plus all the hidden “extras” we are expected to do, makes the workload for many of us unsustainable. The feelings of burn out and having a sense of being overwhelmed are all to familiar. And you know what – there are some days when I really just can’t face it.
We are currently being trained in a national program called KidsMatter which is designed to help improve the mental health of our students and the community. During a training session the other week struggling to focus after a full on day, it struck me: What about my mental health? What about the mental health of all these teachers around this room? How can we improve the mental health of our students when our own is flagging? And I think this is the fundamental problem – we are trying to squeeze more and more lemonade out of dried up lemons.
We need to be kind to ourselves. We need to try and stop even for just a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine – even if it just means closing your eyes for 10 seconds while on yard duty, with the sun at your back, and just breath. Seriously, what could go wrong in 10 seconds?
Easier said than done, I know, but it is important.
We bought a camper trailer the other week. A very old one but it was such a bargain, we couldn’t resist (and this little old camper is 100 steps up from the tent). Anyway, we took it for a test drive down at the local caravan park – a whole 15mins from where we live. It was a mad rush to get there just for 2 nights but it was worth it. Time slowed for me – I was able to sit and relax. And though I came back completely sleep deprived care of my two kids, I did have a real sense that I had been able to have moments of stillness and tranquility that I hadn’t had for a long time.
Here is a photo of me in all my camping glory, enjoying the sun.
So, my goal for this month is to be more efficient at making my lemonade. I will strive to not let the weight of it all become too much to handle and I will make time to be still even if just to close my eyes and feel the sun at my back for a few moments.
Hmm… just a final thought – wouldn’t it be nice if the quote was: If life gives you grapes, make wine.
Cheers, Danielle x