There’s an award that many primary and secondary schools provide students who have 100 percent attendance for their entire school career. It’s a great feeling to win an award, but what does this one show our students for the future? Like so many others, for the first decade of my teaching career, I did my best to never miss a day. I went to work no matter what, traveled on those extra icy and snowy days, paid the extra fees to be back from holidays on time (no matter the jet lag), and like so many others suffered through allergies and sickness while at work. Blame it on the good ethics instilled by my parents, the desire to make a good impression, or enthusiasm and dedication I felt towards my profession – but, like millions of others who felt the same, I showed up.
In the United States, more often than not, salaried professionals are lucky to get two weeks a year holiday and rarely use all of their days. I was lucky that in education, I was granted a variety of opportunities for holidays or days to recuperate from those long stretches at work. Somewhere along the line between making sure we go outside to play and bringing home a paycheck – we’ve lost sight of something important. For whatever reason, today, taking time for oneself for a moment, hour, day or more seems to fall under the ‘selfish’ category instead of the ones marked ‘necessity’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘providing positive results’. I wonder why that is?
There are most certainly people who advocate taking time for oneself, but convincing others and sometimes yourself is not the easiest task. Last week’s Wednesday afternoon yoga class seemed to take a lot of that into focus without saying a word. The class, one based in yoga therapy, focused on core intentions like contentment, ease, perspective, calm and finding ways to bring those into more of the forefront of our daily existence. There were meditative breathing techniques, asanas (poses) held for that extra breath and music to match the mood. For me, the take away was far greater than my very happy hips.
It’s NOT selfish to take time for yourself. It DOESN’T make you a bad person if you take a day to play hooky, actually USE your vacation/holiday days or even offer to take leave without pay, leave the dishes in the sink and head out for a yoga class, let the laundry pile up so you can go for a walk or coffee date with friends/spouse, take time to finish that book or whatever it is that brings out your happy and discovers your best self. Taking care of you is important. Most of us crave those memorable moments where our souls awaken and you find yourself rediscovering the ‘you’ you remember before ‘busy’ became a focus. Somehow we’ve been taught that by putting others first it means we have to come last – that’s truly not the case. By putting ourselves on equal footing with how we treat, care for and feel about others – we might wind up allowing ourselves the opportunity to find more ease, embrace more calm, discover more joy and really gain the ability to find more happy in our every day. Find a pace that works for you. Follow your intentions. Allow those moments of pure joy to linger a little bit longer. Channel your best self. Take the time for you – you’ll be truly pleased with the results.