Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Doing "Nothing" is "Something"

My idea of "doing nothing" needs a bit of tweaking. For years, people have been telling me this. But I'm learning! Slowly, but surely, I'm learning to ask for help, rather than allowing myself to become overwhelmed. Why do I tend to have such trouble being idle? Relaxing? Do nothing?

I attended a two-day science teachers' conference and returned home Saturday night after a four-hour flight delay. The flight itself was a nightmare for me; the small plane felt every bump of turbulence!  My youngest daughter was having a birthday slumber party that night, so upon my return, the house was filled with 14 thirteen-year-old girls. As I walked through the door, I was gearing myself up to help out with the party.

However, my older daughter had stepped-up. She had done the grocery shopping, baked the cake, helped decorate the house, and most importantly, helped calm my youngest one down, assuring her everything would go smoothly and everyone would have fun. My husband, too, helped tremendously. Along with all the work he normally does, the house had a peaceful feeling, a sense of serenity that only he can provide, even amongst 14 teenage girls. He calmly kissed me hello, asked me about my trip, and offered to make me dinner, since he rightfully guessed I had forgotten to eat.

On Sunday night, I was wiped. The excitement of the conference, the stress of the flight home, etc. wore me out. So my husband tells me, "I'm doing the dishes, taking out the trash and finishing up some emails. You do nothing. Go sit on the couch and relax. We'll watch some TV together when I'm finished. Is there anything else you need me to do for you?"

"Doing nothing sounds great. Thanks, Sweetie. No, I don't need anything. I'm good." So I head for the couch...

I don't know what's wrong with me. Somehow, on my way to the couch, I got out the lunch boxes for the morning, cleaned up the dining room table from the party, grabbed the laundry from the dryer to fold, put in another load, dealt with some work-related emails and then brought my luggage upstairs to unpack. And then it hit me. I had taken a 30 minute detour doing things that could have waited, things that my husband would've gladly done for me (except the laundry). So I abruptly dropped everything and purposefully made my way to the couch!

So am I really learning? Honestly, yes. Six months ago, it would've been a 60 minute detour! But the learning curve can only be understood by someone like me; someone who has a hard time asking for help, someone who seems to have two speeds—80 mph or "shut-down mode" due to burn-out, with no speeds in between!

What I'm learning most of all is that doing "nothing" is "something" and it's a very important skill I want my daughters to learn. I don't want them to develop the idea that they always need to be working. My two-speed engine needs some balance from someone who works just as hard, but balances life with a dominant "stop-and-smell-the-roses" perspective, someone who saves energy for people first and things second, someone with a calm yet strong demeanor, someone whose serenity of mind and heart is contagious to those around him. Someone like my husband.

So I will continue to practice making time to do nothing. Anyone else having trouble with this? Specifically teachers? Any ideas that have worked for you?

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