Sometimes self-care is working?

I’ve been doing a pretty bad job of prioritizing myself lately. It’s been tough with personal stressors like re-planning my wedding for the third time, having my best friend drop out of it last-minute (but another amazing friend come through for me to take her place), and communicating with contractors and insurance to do some fairly serious home repairs. Not to mention being emotionally overwhelmed by coronavirus and related restrictions and the George Floyd murder and resulting protests. I feel guilty about having all of this stress sometimes- I have the privilege to host a fancy wedding, to own a home, to have good friends, to be white and be able to step back from BLM when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

But for a moment, I’d like to take time for me. I suck at asking for help. I try to do everything and do it perfectly because of this stupid inner voice telling me I have to or I’m not good enough. And I do. But it’s exhausting. It’s really starting to take it’s toll. I haven’t had time to think about my job in the past three weeks as a result.

What was really weird, was that yesterday was the first time I had some free time. What did I want to do with it? Work.  I was so excited to have time to watch presentations from an online teaching conference I had registered for. It was the weirdest feeling to finally have free time and want to do job-related activities. Not because I felt like I was behind, but because I genuinely enjoy teaching and learning about pedagogy.

I realized that I need to take a step back. I can’t do everything (or I can, but I’m not willing to pay the price of emotional exhaustion). But that’s okay. I don’t have to. Let me just remind everyone of a few things. First of all, you are good enough. Even if you aren’t perfectly doing your job or being a perfect friend or partner or family member. Even if you aren’t getting everything done or even most of it. Secondly, you are important. If you don’t make time for yourself, pretty soon you won’t be able to get anything done because of the mountain of stress you’ve created for yourself. Third, self-care looks different for everyone. It’s not always bubblebaths and wine and chocolate (although it totally can be). It might just be allowing yourself to take a break. Going to sleep earlier. Ordering out. Or even doing your job. Don’t judge yourself on what you need to do to take care of yourself. But do listen to yourself. Be honest. Figure out what you need, whether it’s that bubble bath or watching that conference presentation or something completely different.

These are tough times for everyone. Take care of yourself!

Black Lives Matter

In the past few years, I have been becoming more aware of racism, segregation, and related issues in the U.S. I’ve been reading books like Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, having conversations with my colleagues and students, listening to podcasts like Serial Season 3 (which really hits home because it takes place here in Cleveland) and just paying attention.

But as a white person, it’s easy to get distracted by my own problems and struggles. I have the privilege to put my feelings about it on hold.

Then there are days like May 25th when George Floyd was murdered that make it impossible to forget, even as a white person.

I am so angry with the world right now. It feels like I’m not living in the United States or on Earth, because what society could let this happen? It cannot possibly be real that people of color are being murdered and the person in charge is simply encouraging more violence. Violence is never the answer. Especially when rich, white people are calling for it and it’s primarily people of color who are getting hurt and dying.

Here’s what I know: I’m tired of doing nothing. It is just as harmful to sit by in silence. What is happening is unacceptable. People of color are being murdered because rich, white people have perpetuated racist beliefs in order to profit off of their lives. It’s bullshit. It’s not fair.

But don’t stop at that conclusion. Don’t push aside your anger and hurt and frustration. Do something to help.

Here’s what I’m doing: I received $167 for my stimulus check. I donated all of it and more ($200 in total) to Cleveland’s Black Lives Matter organization. If you are also so inclined, here is the link. If you would like to donate to your local BLM chapter, here is a compilation of resources. If you are a white person feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure how you can help, please check out this website and consider reading some of these books. And if you’re a teacher, like me, please remember that we are on the front lines of dismantling racial inequality. Please educate yourself and help fight for justice.

Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Even if it’s small. One person alone cannot stop a tidal wave, but together we can stand strong.