Make Space for Space

by Shalonda Archibald, NJLA Board Member




Heyyyy friends! It is the most joyous time of the school year, isn’t it? Finally, we see some light at the end of the tunnel, right? It has been an indubitably long school year. For many of us, we have just a few days of school left until we can wrap the 2020-2021 school year in a tight, tight, super tight box with a beautiful, shiny, glittery pink bow. LOL!


Seriously though, friends. This school year has been one like no other. It has affected us all in many ways. The effect differs person to person nonetheless teaching in a pandemic has taken a toll. I can’t even count the number of teary eyed days I’ve had this school year. I mean seriously uncontrollable ugly crying. When I share that with people they don’t believe it but it’s true. It’s what Brene Brown calls the “soft front, strong back and wild heart,” in me. On my emotional wellness journey, Brene Brown’s messages on vulnerability and courage have helped me to put into place sustainable self-care practices that help me to navigate the unfamiliar, uncertain, sometimes frightening terrain called LIFE. The pandemic is it’s own ginormous realm but life in general is tumultuous at times.


The biggest lesson I’ve learned on my emotional wellness journey (which is the result of the intersection of many resources I’ve been blessed with to help me along) is that external forces cannot fill my internal voids. For many years, I’ve given my power away and essentially caused myself many upsets by expecting external forces to nourish and sustain me. Here me when I say this friends, self-care, the work that you do on the inside is extremely important to how you manage day to day. Let me give you an example. At 5am every morning I spend at least an hour silently nourishing my emotional and spiritual self (sometimes my physical self grudgingly) which anchors me to the goodness that I want to experience in my day. The time I spend with myself in the morning gives me the fuel to navigate the ebbs and flows of the day more effectively. It has helped me to accept and manage the rapid fire, unexpected changes that occur day to day teaching, parenting and just living during this time.


As we wrap up the 2020-2021 school year and embark on our summer journeys, friends I encourage you to make space in your jam packed summer schedules for some time for yourself to BE STILL and introspect. Seriously, plan time to sit and reflect on the school year, the impact it's had on you and that you had on it. Most of my introspection is done in writing. I have journals galore. I didn’t realize how impactful this practice would be in my life and actually was reluctant to commit to the process at first. However, as the years have gone on I’ve come to cherish the benefits of my self-care practices. Schedule time with and for yourself on your calendars. Yes, actually schedule appointments with yourself on your calendar. WRITE REGULAR APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF DOWN AND KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENTS! I now treat my self-care appointments with myself like dire health appointments because that’s just what they are.


Friends, this pandemic has taught me to value relationships more than anything else and that includes the relationship that I have with Shalonda too. Please take some time this summer, if you don’t already have one, and adopt a sustainable self-care regimen. This regimen can consist of one daily act for yourself that no matter what is going on you will commit to that act for yourself because YOU DESERVE EVERYTHING YOU SO EASILY GIVE TO OTHERS! This summer give yourself permission to take it slow, to be still and to get comfortable with being. Partake in the simple pleasures of summer and relax, rejuvenate, and read, read, read.