Saturday, 29 December 2018

Fill Your Own Cup With Gratitude

November is tough.  The excitement of September's fresh start has passed.   You've worked hard to build those relationships in your classroom, but the honeymoon period is over.   You've been doing great things in the classroom, and you are planning even more.  There's meetings, Professional Development, extra curriculars, Parent nights....You've got a hundred balls in the air and you are trying to keep them there.  There are no holidays in the month to give you time to catch your thoughts.  The holiday break is approaching, but it still seems a long way off....and there is so much to do before then at school and at home.  You start to feel like Sisyphus trying to push that bolder up the hill.

That's me pretty much every November.  Yep, 24 years in, and November still drags my spirit down.  This year was no exception, except for the fact that I seemed to hit a low that last week of the month that I had never before quite felt, or at least not in a very long time.  There were a lot of factors that contributed to my perfect storm of self doubt and unhappiness that I don't need to go into here.  What's important is that for the first time in a long time, my cup was empty and I was really struggling to just get a drop of anything in it.

I drove home one grey November day thinking, "I don't think I heard one positive thing today."  On reflection, I probably did, I just wasn't in the state of mind to really hear it.  The negative was drowning out every other thing in my head.  Some of those voices were undoubtably my own internal Negative Nancy, whom I generally keep locked up and refuse to listen to.  But, November had unlocked her cage and she was out and she was incredibly loud.

This was not me.  This would not do.  It was time to do some self care and get that b#*%!@ back in her cage.  I took some "me time" to do a few things that bring me peace.  I reached out to a Marigold (If my Marigold reference is foreign to you - check out this post by Jennifer Gonzalez) and bless her, my marigold gave me a positive message I could hold on to through this storm.  There was a trickle getting back into my cup.

Then Joy Kirr shared a video about gratitude on Twitter.  (Source: YouTube

And VoicEd Radio started their #voicEdGratitude challenge for December.

I wondered if, maybe, a daily intentional gratitude moment would start to quiet the negative voices.

Each day, Derek Rhodenizer would post a gratitude challenge for anyone following the hashtag to complete.  Some of them were Twitter based like thanking a member of your PLN by sharing their Twitter handle.  Many of them were not Social Media based, like thanking a non teaching member of your staff.  There was even a more intense gratitude "Secret Santa" activity for participating members of the VoicEd podcasting community.

At first I was hesitant.  Did I really need one more thing on my "to do list" each day?  I gave myself a pep talk.  These were not huge asks.  They might help and they certainly could not hurt.

With each task, I felt my spirit start to lift.  I dove into each new gratitude activity with greater gusto.  My own gratitude experiment was working.  My cup was starting to refill, not with positivity from others, but from doing something intentionally positive for someone else each day. 

That is not to say, that by the last day before break, I was energetic and eager and back to my September level of enthusiasm.  I came home that Friday pretty much ready for a long winter's nap.  But, I wasn't on empty anymore.  My cup was becoming self sustaining, at least at a workable level.  After a week of holidays, family time, "me time" and reflection time, my cup is almost full again.  Come January 7th, I'll be ready.  And I'm really going to try to keep my cup from getting that empty again by filling it with the gratitude I give to others.

As always, I welcome your comments below.  Do you get the November blahs?  How do you refill your cup when it is low?  How do you show gratitude year round?

1 comment:

  1. Woot! I truly believe gratitude is what makes me happier. When I come home after a difficult day, I drive up to the house I'm grateful for. It happens to have my wonderful soul-mate of a retired husband inside it that I'm soooo grateful for. My troubles melt away as I think of all the "small stuff" that truly happened at school, and I'm grateful for a new start the next day. This last week after Christmas I've been thanking teachers on Twitter - trying to be specific as to WHY. It's time-consuming, but easier on me than trying to read all the tweets I didn't get to (and know I won't get to). Thank you for sharing this, Ramona - we all could use a little more gratitude in this world. Here's to a happy, healthy, gratitude-filled 2019!!