Teachable moment fatigue

I love being in a classroom of adult learners. I am grateful for the diversity of culture, ethnicity, ability, academic readiness and spend a significant amount of time managing my expectations and looking for opportunities to inspire compassion and connection, knowing that my students are destined to be helpers.

However, this political climate has left many of my students and myself emotionally exhausted, often defensive of our personal leanings, and starved for discourse.

So what do I do when I’m feeling “teachable moment fatigue”?

I stop teaching.

I start listening.

And I take space from the hustle and bustle of the 24 hour news cycle and biased op-Ed pieces and choose to sit in the silence, listen to an audiobook, or crochet until my hands hurt.

Because as Anne Lamott says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

It’s not the mental load. It’s you.

I hear this saying all the time.

The “mental load”, which describes the invisible (yet pretty obvious to those afflicted) burden that is often attributed to being in or running a household.

Truth be told, I have felt the annoyance, exhaustion and frustration of having to remember, plan and execute each facet of my family’s day. It exists. But that’s not the point. Lots of things exist, but it only continues if you allow it to continue.

So, instead of “making lists to better organize yourself” and “ sending your spouse/partner step by step instructions- so YOU can relax” I’m going to suggest something radical and although it appears as a list, you don’t have to write one yourself, I promise.

-SPEAK YOUR TRUTH.

-HAVE A REAL CONVERSATION WITH YOUR SPOUSE/PARTNER.

-STOP CONTROLLING THE PROCESS

-UNLOAD AND THEN LET IT GO

Simple? Maybe not-depending on your relationship.

You are not a mind-reader, and neither is your significant other. Stop acting like a victim whilst angrily unloading the clean dishes or stomping around with a laundry basket.

Using “when you _____, I feel ______” to articulate how you feel and express what you need.

Shut up before you comment on how the tasks or chores get done. You don’t want to be treated like the boss, so stop dictating every move.

Once you’ve shared your piece, you have to let it sit for a bit.

If you choose to acknowledge the “mental load”, but refuse to address it, all you are going to do is further divide your relationship, and foster bitterness and resentment.

So instead, maybe try these strategies.

Helpers

I’m a helper by trade (a human service professional-turned- college professor. I’m married to a helper ( a NYS Environmental Conservation Officer) so between the two of us, there is a lot of compassion, empathy, problem-solving aptitude, combined with an appreciation and respect for the hardships of the human experience.

With all of these positive attributes, one would think we would be in tune and positive all the time, recognizing the benefits of all of that awareness.

But you know what?

Loving a helper is hard.

There is a certain level of selflessness that is required to do the job well. The ability to suspend judgment, to actively listen, to focus on the needs of someone other than oneself are required. Often this means that helpers have to ignore or displace their own ‘stuff’ in order to do their job. It’s expected and most of the time it is a-ok.

Then there are the times that helping is REALLY HARD.

The clients that relapse, disappear, choose to quit weigh on the mind of the helper. The people that continue to get into trouble, that make choices that hurt others, that fail to follow through are the ones that take up most of the collective energy and effort. Dealing with this is common, but still can be draining.

This hurts, it exhausts and frustrates helpers who give so much of themselves for the greater good. For a helper, it’s a small price to pay in order to help someone who needs it. For me, those tough cases made me MORE empathetic and compassionate.

Now, try loving someone who has chosen to make helping their life’s work.

The phone doesn’t stop ringing much, the hours are long and often confusing, social events get missed, down-time is often spent on decompressing from the helping crises that occur.

That’s the logistical stuff.

Consider the personal feelings and the stress, trauma and pain that helpers see, experience and process once away from work. That stuff doesn’t often get left at the proverbial ‘door’.

Helpers are at risk for burnout, stress-related disorders and other physical and mental health concerns if they do not make a choice to help themselves.

So if you know or love someone who is making a career of helping others, try to encourage them to take care of themselves. The more we take care of each other, the more connected we become, and the world becomes a better place to be.

You are not dream-greedy

 

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“One dream coming true doesn’t mean you have to give up on other dreams.” Anne Lamott states this so beautifully in her book “Small Victories”. Her context here is actually referring to her experiences with online dating, but the theme of this statement applies to every aspect of life that requires goal-setting, grit and perseverance.

I often ask my students and clients how setting goals relates to their “best life”. Most actually avoid this direct question completely, and skip right to the “I’m not asking for much! I just want to be happy (and thin; and rich; and in love; and pain-free; and famous; and the next Powerball winner, etc”).

Well guess what?

All of that stuff requires a dream, and all the dreams require goals, and all of the goals require effort, and all that effort requires you to understand what brings you joy or happiness or satisfaction in the first place.

I love the dreams, I love how people look when they are describing the dreams they have for themselves. That is also the cue that they are ready to work, but are often struggling with the how to make it happen. So that’s where I can help.

My first (and often best) suggestion I give people who have a dream, is to find someone who is living out that dream, and connect with them.

This doesn’t mean stalk the next lotto winner.

What I mean is;

Have a dream to own your own business?

Find someone who owns their own business (both successful and people who have failed—both matter) and connect with them on social media, LinkedIn, go to a Chamber of Commerce mixer, meet and greet those who are doing what you want to do, and ask questions. Heck, after you introduce yourself, speak out your dream to own your own business (this energetically influences the universe to bring you to closer to that reality) and ask them if they would ever be willing to discuss their process with you.

Want to become a high-ranking person within your field?

Find someone who is doing the job you want! Intern, volunteer, follow their journey, ask them questions about how they began their journey, what they wish they knew before, and what it is like to be where they are now. This is important, as dreams and goals change as we age.

Let me let you in on a little secret-

People who have worked toward a dream of their own, 

love telling people about it. 

As many major dream-seekers, key-players in your chosen field and society-influencers will tell you, THERE IS ROOM FOR YOU AND YOUR DREAMS.

You are not dream-greedy.

The magic behind accomplishing one dream, is that it should (hopefully) give you the confidence to try something harder. This is how we learn, grow and shift in to a higher-level thinking and being.

A very important part of realizing a dream, is setting goals that bring you to it. And I suggest that you identify and classify your goals in the following ways:

Is the goal specific?

        Is it positively stated?

Is it simple?

                     Is it important?

Is it realistic?

Once you have a better understanding of this process, you can create a plan of action.

Keep on dreaming!

Mallory

Food and family

I don’t know about your family, but in my house, I have two boys, Logan and Daniel.

Logan has always been a good eater, and Daniel is my food-tyrant.

Deep into his fourth year, he prefers all the beige foods- i.e. potatoes, chicken, fish, chips, and also the crackers, pretzels and rolls. He’ll eat pizza and spaghetti, but if there is the glimmer of anything green, he goes running. Full disclosure- he’s been eating those yogurt, fruit and veggie blended pouches and just recently decided he wants yogurt (go-gurt only). This is deeply frustrating but I bounce back and forth between the “no-thank you” bites and force feeding this kid. He’s a healthy weight and height, and uses the bathroom regularly so I try not to over do the stress, but I long for the days where our family can sit together and eat the same meal together.

ENTER Keto. My husband and I follow a mostly ketogenic way of eating (WOE) and although we sometimes eat off plan, for the most part with stick to the meats, veggies, dairy and berries. If we are cooking for our kids, it’s easy to add a serving or grains or potatoes, and that’s about as close as we get to a family meal in our house.

The food drama is one layer of how mealtime feels complicated to me. My husband is also a NYS Conservation Officer (commonly known as a Game Warden) and is often “called out” just as we sit down to dinner. This has challenged me as the kids get older and we work towards sitting together and sharing a meal and the topics of the day. While we all must make time and be intentional during these important years with our kids, we also have to be realistic to the career requirements.

Often times, if he gets called out to respond to an “encon emergency” I dismiss our efforts of sitting together, as the kids now want to play on a tablet or turn on a movie, as we have previously done, to lessen the blow of “daddy having to leave to help people”. I am guilty of seeking the break from family dinner around the table (truth be told I grew up in a house with a mom who worked nights, so dinner time was actually breakfast) so I’m easily persuaded to a more casual setting.

It is interesting to me now that the boys are a little older, Logan is 8.5 and Daniel 4.5, to see how my feelings on family rules have adapted to meet the needs of my children.

Would I like them to eat more veggies? Of Course.

Would I like to see them reach for book instead of a tablet? Sure.

But in this season of life, I see the benefit of being flexible and less controlling in some areas, so I can better understand them, and they can have a mommy who can better understand herself.