awareness, mental health, perspective

Paths, Loss, and Lessons

How do people lose sight of what they have right in front of them? People, possessions, relationships, amongst others.

Life is full of choices and paths. Sometime we take the right path while other times we don’t. Some paths are smooth while others are bumpy. No two paths are ever the same.

Bumpy roads lead to some of the best life lessons. The important part of life lessons is when one actually learns from said lesson. Unfortunately, many miss the bigger message when it’s right in front of them.

I am at a loss sometimes when people can’t see what’s right in front of them. They don’t see the indirect messages or clues. They don’t hear the direct communication. They just see themselves.

Then I hit pause. Is it that they don’t hear or they choose not to listen? Is there a difference? Why yes there is a difference and it is a choice.

Listening is a form of art. Listening means sharing in the pain or glory of others. Listening means giving of yourself. If somebody close to you isn’t listening to you, they are making a choice. They are choosing themselves over you.

To me they chose the wrong path. The path that ends in loss. The loss could be big or it could be small. No matter the size it’s loss. For those who suffer a loss or get lost in themselves and forget about what’s in front of you, I hope you realize the lesson that you should learn.

Never take life or people for granted. They may be here today and gone tomorrow. Don’t miss your opportunity.

This post was written in honor of Suicide Prevention Month (September 2021).

awareness

Action Words

Pooped
Tired
Exhausted 
Fatigued

The action words above describe me after today. After the crazy week. After all the emotional highs and lows I experienced. Too many highs and lows to note. More importantly, my week resembled a roller coaster of life. A real shit show.

Refreshed
Recharged
Rejuvenated 
Rested

The above action words describe me now after some time alone. After some time to gather my thoughts. After an unplanned trip to the coffee shop for a sweet treat. After a day outside In the fresh air. After a trip to chase the mountain air.

I had plenty of things on my to do list. I had a few events I could have gone to. I had some folks I could have visited with. There were many things I could have done but instead I chose me. Just me. Just time away from the noise. The chaos. The crazy. The stupid. All of it.

A plane ride to an island might have been a nice oasis but with the pandemic still lurking my options were a little closer to my normal than a vacation destination. The destination didn’t so much matter as much as the journey. The break in the cycle of chaos.

Many times I talk about a reset button. We all have them. We all need to use them at times. If you don’t reset the crack will deepen. The crack will then turn in sink holes that you can’t find your way out of. A trap of sorts.

Many may never see you need a reset but I’m sure you know. The question is can you just drop the to do it list and fix you? I do. I do it sometimes more than I want to or more than I want to admit. The point is I’m not afraid to say I need a mental health day. A day off the grid. A day doing the unexpected or unplanned. There is only one of me and in order to fire on all cylinders when it’s needed others around me need to know not to let the crack deepen. They need to see a stress fracture and say I can cover for you. Take a break.

How many just want somebody to notice they need a break? Many. Some people don’t ask if you are okay because they are scared of what you will say. Some won’t ask a hard question because of fear. I take the fear away from others. I say what I feel and do what I need to because nobody can fix me but me. 

This rant was about mental health A-Z. I may use myself as an example above but it’s relatable to many. Our teachers need a break from the chaos they see daily. The students need a break from what’s all been thrown their way, too. Let’s not forget about the parents that are juggling work, carpool changes due to Covid changes last minute, who has shots and who doesn’t, mask or no mask….they need a break. A break without punishment. A day off.

How many actually take a day off. How many people say no you can’t have that day off. Plenty! Plenty is one too many. My mom always said never judge a person until you walk a day in their shoes. Many have shoes I wouldn’t want to fill in this day and age and heck many wouldn’t want to be in my shoes most days. For whatever reason we need to have the ability to recharge. Reset. And just play hooky.

10 years ago I’d never tell my kid they could take a day off just because. However today I leave the possibility open. PTO of sorts. Physical time off. Time away. Taking care of self before others. Getting into nature. Moving the body. Stimulating what you want vs. what you have to. That homework can wait. In today’s world it’s okay.

When I revisit this post in a few years I may have a different mindset but today this is my journal post of sorts.

I will leave this post with words of discomfort. Words that require action in one way or another. What’s relevant today but most likely to be avoided.

Covid

Pandemic

Mask required

Vaccinated

Quarantine

Symptoms 

Restrictions 

Zoom

Digital day

Hoping 2022 has something spectacular lurking. 2021 is just as much of blur as 2020. 

awareness

Safe Place

There’s at least one every year.

It usually starts with a drop-in from the counselor. “We need a safe place for _______________. Is it ok if we have the library as her safe place?”

The answer is always yes. Of course.

The reasons are many. For some, it’s a desire to run away. In my years in the public education system, we’ve had a handful of students who cope with things by physically running out of the school. Sometimes they make it to the street, down the road, into the woods. As you might imagine, a student exiting the building is cause for everything and everyone to stop what they are doing until the student is found. After the student is located, there is a process that begins…protocols, safety measures, and so on. One part of the protocol is identifying safe places for those students to go when they feel that urge to escape. My library is pretty big and I have no problem leaving students alone. So the counselor brings that student in and shows them where they can go to be undisturbed.

We’ve had other students who try to harm themselves. Much like our students who need to escape, the library is a place they can go to be alone and decompress. I have worked on the art of watching these kids without putting them under a microscope. We all know adults to just need a time out, but don’t need to be overly isolated. I strive to be that safe place where a student can be just alone enough to gather themselves.

At times it is students who can’t be in the room for whatever is being taught. We have families who don’t want their students exposed to stories about magic. We have other families who don’t celebrate certain holidays. In that case, we are the place that students can come to avoid that content.

And then there are the students with health conditions. From seasonal allergies to epileptic seizures, I am the place where students go when being outside for recess isn’t a safe option. I try to give these little guys things to do while they are inside. I hurt at times for these kids, since being outside is so vital to health and such a fun part of the school day.

I guess I am in the margins. A catch-all for students who need a place to just be who they are for whatever reason. A welcoming spot for anyone who is a little different. Do you have a place like that? Or maybe it’s a person?

awareness

Script Flip (Again)

Another Street Parking challenge has come and gone. These challenges come around a few times a year. Each one has a slightly different focus, but in the end establishing healthy habits and consistency are the overarching themes.

The little daily extras in each challenge sneak up on me. This challenge required writing a daily gratitude reflection. I like to write at the beginning of the day so I challenged myself to write at the end this time. There were many days when I had to pull myself out of near-sleep to jot it down, but it got done almost every day.

Knowing I had to write what I was grateful for actually made me think about my mindset throughout the day. I realized I had fallen into some of my old habits of negativity and grumpiness. I’ve done this exercise before, but a reset was needed. (I’m also just going to pause and say that right now seems like a tough time for many in my life circles as well as the world in general. Between the pandemic surges, war, weather, craziness, on top of all the regular life stuff, things. just. feel. very. heavy and hard.) So early in the challenge I decided to pull something I was grouchy about it and flip it to a gratitude each day. I did this early in the pandemic as well to try to reframe some of my challenges.

Here are some of the before / afterthoughts from this time around:

-We recently had a stretch where many people in our circles needed a “place to crash” for a few days. This added adults, kids, dogs, and stuff to our already slightly chaotic household. Grouchy to Gratitude: “I am grateful we have a home with enough room to welcome those who need it.”

-Covid hit my family in the past month, bringing sickness and many associated challenges to our daily lives. Grouchy to Gratitude: “I am grateful the vaccine protected some of those around us from sickness.” “I am grateful we have focused on our health over the past couple of years to help us have a better chance of beating this virus.”

-I’ve been given many more work responsibilities this fall. Our student numbers have increased along with a focus on keeping kids safe. Grouchy to Gratitude: “I am grateful that my boss finds my inclusion in projects to be beneficial.” “I am grateful for the opportunity to be a light for kids at a time when lots of things are dark.”

-At times my “extra jobs” have been overwhelming this month – i.e., launching the cut flower arm of our business and being a booster club president / treasurer for a high school sport. Grouchy to Gratitude: “I am grateful for all the smiles a joy I get to give people from the groundwork we have done.” “I am grateful for the abundance our land has provided.” “I am grateful for the chance to organize a season that these girls can find special and memorable.”

The list goes on. I found myself, during grouchy moments, mentally flipping my script. Finding the flip side, the upside, the silver lining.

It’s all in the story we tell ourselves. Another great lesson hidden in something small. Hopefully I can sustain this discipline in the coming season.

awareness, mental health

Universe Whispers

There are days when I feel the universe is whispering to me. Subtle little hints that I’m in the right place, at the right time with people who are meant to be in my path.

The path could be a connection at the grocery store. A person I meet through work. An interaction with a stranger. The person next to me on a plane ride. An attendee at an event I am hosting. The list goes on.

I spoke to a woman recently about an encounter with her child. A chance encounter at that. In my path for no other reason than chance. I knew neither mom nor daughter before this date. No common denominators. The paths crossed unexpectedly. The timing was right. Crisis averted.

Our chance meeting led to outcomes. Outcomes led to more interactions. Actions, smiles, cheerleading of sorts. The relationship may not blossom past this point but that is okay. The universe wanted a chance encounter at that moment. The rest will fall into place as it should be. Below is a message I received weeks later to confirm my universe whisper:

The impact made shows the importance of my timing. My active listening to know there was a need at the moment to be present for somebody aside from me. The importance is I was there when needed. A universe whisper of sorts. There are many examples I can think of yet this one rings true today. In the now. Everyone needs a pick me up from time to time and kindness matters. How you treat others will come back to you in time. Some call it karma. I call it fate.

I hope my post makes you think about how you treat others and how a chance meeting may be olive branch of life or even hope to get through tomorrow.