mental health

The Inches Between Your Ears

I’ve been dabbling in real estate lately. Mostly just looking and learning. Immersed in the language of square feet, acres, frontage, it’s a different world to play in. Comparing parcels, plats and all of that.  What makes one property more valuable than another?

Recently someone close to me became the subject of an older man’s obsession.  He physically followed her, sitting down the street from her home in a car, watching. He contacted her relentlessly through technology.  He reached out to people close to her and spread lies to try to sow mistrust and take away some of her support system. Even put a secret GPS tracker on her car.  It’s all sick and twisted and disgusting.

We hope that a confrontation with some of her family scared him off.  He’s been found out. But the legal process to get help for this situation is painfully slow.  Painfully. Slow.

In the mean time, this strong, confident young woman is staring out windows endlessly, shaken with anxiety.  She is terrified.

For all she knows, he may be down the street again watching.  Or, he may be scared away for good.

Either way, he has taken up residence in the most precious real estate she has, the inches between her ears.  Her brain.  At the moment, even if he is no longer anywhere near her, she is thinking about him.  What is he doing?  Is he going to drive by? Is he hurting people I love?  Is he trying to get to me somehow? Am I safe?

She installed cameras around her home. I will be setting up a self-defense class at a local martial arts studio.  Just to try to give her and some of her friends tools to feel safer.

But what about her mind?  Where’s the guard dog for that?  The electric fence?  The alarm bells that help her figure out when she can really let your guard down?  This is something I am thinking about for her. We can’t live on high alert all the time.

I think about it for me as well, how to protect my mental real estate.  I struggle with things like mistrust, jealousy, resentment, anger, unhealthy thinking.  I have to watch myself and learn to better control when these emotions rock me.  The Four Agreements has helped me in this, when I feel like things are getting out of hand.  I remind myself not to take things personally or make assumptions.  I focus on keeping my word and giving my best efforts.

Ultimately, as frustrating as it may be, we can only really control ourselves.  If our minds are horses galloping out of corral, out of control, it will be hard to bridle them.  I’m refreshing my mindset and the strategies I have learned to help keep my mental real estate protected.  How do you protect and preserve those precious inches between your ears?

 

 

challenges

A Cautionary Tale

The countdown is on.

A few weeks until summer ends and school is back in session…or is it?

My district ended last year with over 40 unexpected days of digital learning due to COVID-19.

Now it is 6 weeks later.  Numbers of cases that seemed to be trending down in my area have sloped back northward.  School districts are starting to try to make decisions about how they will open schools. Cue the special meetings, surveys, and plans (subject to change, of course). Also cue the opinions, the feelings, the exceptions, the arguments, the fears.

Colleagues have asked me many times throughout my career if I would want to become a school administrator.  My answer is always a fervent and unequivocal NO.  Times like this only magnify those feelings.  I don’t envy the public scrutiny that leaders are under in this seemingly no-win time.

I understand…

A significant portion of the economy depends on schools being open.

Many kids have their best access to food, learning, and social / mental health resources when they are in school.

Being taught (in person) by credentialed professionals is what we believe works best for most students.

At the same time…

Many teachers and school workers are themselves vulnerable to serious COVID-19 cases, or live with and care for other people who have those underlying conditions.

This virus is still new and developing, so science is still catching up to understanding what it is, how it moves, and so on.

Our schools are mostly based on kids being close together and moving with organized freedom throughout buildings and surrounding areas.

All the money and power at stake make every decision a politically charged and controversial one.

Then there are the logistics questions that come along with schools opening…

How do kids ride a bus?  How do they have recess? Can they sing? Can they play sports? Will there be field trips or assemblies?  Anyone who has worked with elementary school kids knows that kids love hugs and playing together which often involves contact.  How do I police that? I can’t even start about the masks, or what happens when a suspected case pops up.

Will all the fun stuff just be stripped away? 

In the end, I know this:

No choice will make everyone happy.

No choice will keep everyone healthy.

No choice will meet everyone’s needs.

We will be doing the best we can given what we know, and know that what we know might change at any given time.  Not an easy position for any of us.

I went to a branch of our local public library recently.  They opened up the buildings a few weeks ago.  This gorgeous, light-flooded, award-winning building, created for people to congregate and spend time reading and learning, is full of caution tape to keep people out or at least moving.

IMG_2149 2

I’m not sure there is enough caution tape to insulate school kids and workers from what we are facing. Our best protections will be patience, good faith, positivity, resilience, flexibility and showing kids and colleagues that we care about them in every way we can imagine.

 

 

perspective

Walls Up

What causes us to put our walls up?

Do we intentionally put our walls up?

If a wall is erected can it be taken down?

Can a wall go up and down similar to the unpredictability of the weather?

I do believe the answer is yes on all accounts. For me I make choices on my walls while others may inadvertently pull up a wall or walls without noticing. It may put them in a corner in a way. It could be a separation of friends. A separation of business collaboration. A divide in a family. So many examples around.

For the purposes of this writing I will reflect on bending and flexing. We all have the ability to bend and flex here and there to make compromises. Does this always work out well? No.

Why? People are messy and life isn’t fair. This toxic combination usually ends up in a recipe for disaster. Walls go up. Feeling get hurt. Reputations can be tarnished.

The complications of life. Of commingling people, personalities, emotions, and who can forget fear.

If you ever want to delve into this subject deeper you can take the enneagram test. Examine your results. Compare to a colleague, a close friend and maybe even a spouse. You may learn how to avoid walls/barriers and work more harmoniously in whatever environment you are in.

This is a food-for-thought post to ponder on a Friday before the weekend.