Slowing Down and Savoring the Season

It may seem rather counter-intuitive to propose that we all make an effort to slow down this month because, of course, it is December.

Assuming you’re reading this the first week or so of the month, take a moment to think about all the events you’re scheduled to attend, the holiday preparations you need to make, and the extra errands you’ll need to run.

Add to that the unique challenges we as teachers face at this time of year:  preparing end of semester assessments, grading cumulative projects, having one more administrative observation squeezed in, and the last-minute calls of parents hoping their child can submit makeup work.
Maybe you’re feeling like you’ve got a handle on all of it, which is fantastic.  If you’re like me though, thinking about this makes me feel a bit anxious and overwhelmed before even getting started.  Truth be told, I know we’ll all get through the run-up to the holidays just fine.
But here’s the thing – I’d rather not just “get through” the weeks leading up to holiday break.
I’d like to enjoy the next few weeks.  I’d like to have some fun.  I’d like to savor what is unique about this time of year.  I want to avoid rushing through it all and then looking back, almost disbelieving that it’s over, and thinking now I can finally rest (but I’m sad because now it’s post-holiday winter and spring break is so far away).
So, I’m going to make a sincere effort to SLOW DOWN this month, and I’d love to invite you to do the same.

For me, this will take the form of committing to fewer events, as well as lessening or letting go of some of my usual holiday-related tasks.  I will do what I actually want to do and gracefully opt-out of what I don’t.   I will be not put pressure on myself to complete/check-off/produce more than is reasonable. I will write some “do nothing” time blocks into my weekend calendar.

And, since Teaching Balance is all about mindfulness, I’d like to make an effort to be more present every day.
Sometimes presence is just about noticing and enjoying things like the sunrise on my drive to school or the feeling of the bracing cold air as I walk from the building to my car in the afternoon.
Sometimes it takes the form of checking in with myself, noticing any tension in my body as I walk toward or away from the restroom.
Sometimes presence comes from just taking three very slow and very deep breaths.
So, give slowing down a try.  Eat that cookie more slowly, savoring the flavor and texture of the first bite.  When your students are working on something in class, consider sitting and watching them for a bit before doing your own work (they can look so angelic when they’re quiet, can’t they?)   When you have the good fortune of enjoying the company of family and friends, pause and allow yourself to deeply appreciate the moment.

Happy holidays, friends, and warmest wishes for moments of delicious slowness these next few weeks.