Finding the courage to slow down:
One of my favourite thinkers, writers, and leaders is Susan David. Last week she posted, “Show up to yourself with courage, curiosity, and self-compassion.”
It’s often easy to read these words and nod, but very different to embody and practice these ways of being. It’s spurred me to think about courage lately, especially in the space of how to navigate fierce self-compassion, specifically from a courageous place.
I have a dear friend who is packing up her family to teach in New Zealand for a year. She’s renting out her house and taking her kids out of school. Both she and her partner have jobs in Auckland. While walking together recently, I listened to the many, many different things she had to do to get ready for this adventure with her family for a year.
I asked her, is it all worth it? And her reply was amazing.
She said, “I can’t imagine that I’m going to look back on this and regret taking a year away with my family.”
The debt, the stress, and the worries were present but she could see the bigger picture and the long-term outcome of what this would offer her family and how it would shape her children as they grow. Her courage resonated in my heart and I felt proud of how boldly she was stepping into this new adventure.
Many of us aren’t ready to boldly step into new adventures.
We let fear, doubt, or worries stop us from living our dreams or taking steps towards them. This year, as I’ve decided to step into my dreams, I’ve accessed my own practice of fierce compassion to leave my job as an educator for over 20 years to boldly and courageously speak, teach, and lead from a place of compassion—and to do this at a global scale.
I have strong values around freedom, independence, and autonomy, and—as I am discovering—it’s difficult to live within these values in the educational system. It took courage to listen to my own heart and follow what’s most important in my life. As I use practices of fierce compassion as a guide, I’ve discovered how to care for myself and my family while having the capacity to do the work I love.
The more I practice courage, curiosity, and self-compassion, the more I realize that I want to continue on this path.
And this path has taken me on all kinds of insightful and learning adventures. One of the greatest understandings I have learned during the last few years is truly the practice of slowing down.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a slow person. I think fast, I move fast, and I make quick decisions.
I would’ve been the first person to scoff at slowing down. It just doesn’t work with my fast-paced lifestyle. But the more I practice being present, the more I practice self-compassion, and the more I practice being still, I realize that creating space to slow down is the most powerful practice we can offer.
Permission to slow down.
The other day I turned to one of my friends and colleagues and said, “I want to help educators everywhere learn to slow down. I want a space where everyone has permission to slow down, to teach slowly, to build relationships, to understand why they are teaching, and to do it with intention so that their presence is fully available for their students. I want to create this movement, this slow-down revolution in education.”
Well, this dear friend of mine could see my passion and excitement, but turned to me and said, “a slow down revolution sounds exhausting, especially in our already overly packed world. What people want now is to learn how to slow down quickly.”
Boom! She’s right, of course. So, how do we do this? Slow down, quickly?
Well, I’m going to learn and practice how and then share it with you. I want to combine courageous slowing down this year and boldly stepping into discovering ways all educators can learn to slow down quickly. I want to explore some important topics around slowing down in schools so that we all can learn to have permission to be present, at ease, and kind to ourselves when the world isn’t easy.
Some of the topics I want to explore slowing down will include:
- Embodying presence
- Understanding being trauma-informed
- Deepening my awareness on diversity, inclusion, and belonging
- Slowing down my brain and body, and knowing why it’s important
- Learning more about how both tender and fierce compassion may be the foundational practices for slowing down
- Understanding how to ask insightful questions towards ourselves as a practice of self-inquiry
- Strengthening communication by slowing down
- Why slowing down strengthens our mental and emotional health
- Discovering slowing down as the path to all social-emotional learning in our classroom settings.
Meet your challenges with kindness and compassion.
We might not all be at a point to courageously pack up our houses and move to the other side of the world, we may not be ready to shift or leave our job or make changes to our families, but I do believe that we can create micro pauses through our day that courageously invite pause. They give us permission to slow down regularly so we can meet the challenges with kindness and compassion and be present for our students, and ourselves, so we can manage the ever-changing landscape of education these days.
I hear from many educators that since the global pandemic the joy of teaching is lost and the reason to show up every day is now different. It doesn’t feel as meaningful or as authentic. What if we all took a bit of time to slow down and not speed up to rush through to the next best thing but instead figure out what’s important and linger there a little longer?
You also may not be quite ready for a whole revolution around slowing down, but perhaps we can take mini pauses throughout our day and learn practices that can invite presence and care into your world—so that as an educator you can continue to find joy, compassion, kindness in your work.
I look forward to slowing down with you.