I am an empath. As a child I was always acutely aware of my emotions and the emotions of those around me. As an adult, and as I developed professionally, I began to see myself jump off pages or screens when I read about empaths or highly sensitive people. So I became a “self diagnosed empath” 😊.
Is the term new to you? An empath, in a nutshell, is someone who is highly aware of their emotions as well as the emotions of those around them. Sounds simple enough right?! Empaths feel things before they see it on paper or hear it in words. Empaths understand people’s pain points. Empaths can see the emotional needs of others often before others see it themselves. Empaths can absorb the energy in a room.
Being an empath allows me to connect with people. It allows me to meet people where they are and join them in their spaces for whatever they need at that point. As an educator and coach, being an empath has served me. It has helped me to help others in countless circumstances.
The thing is, there is always a flip side. I am very aware of the fact that I can absorb all sorts of energy, even the energy that doesn’t serve me. Over the years I have learned what is necessary in order for me to embrace the sensitivity in my personality without absorbing it in a way that will affect my well-being. This has been no easy feat, and is a non negotiable daily exercise for me.
I am not alone in this boat though. There are many empaths among us. Many people that read between the lines and just seem to “understand.” The thing is…us empaths, we love to be in nurturing professions.
Early on in the pandemic I found myself reflecting on the healthcare workers that are empaths. As stories emerged of doctors and nurses putting pictures on their gowns so that their patients would know what they looked like under their PPE’s, I thought for sure those ideas came from empaths.
Today though…I am reflecting on my fellow teacher empaths. As teachers, regardless of our level of sensitivities, we often have to move from sponge to Teflon within an instant. We have to be able to absorb what our students are saying and feeling in order to connect and help them thrive, but we also have to be the type of Teflon that allows things to roll right off of us so that we do not take home the difficult, frustrating or heartbreaking situations home to our personal spaces.
It seems as though every corner of the world is having the back to school debate. Who will go back? How will this look? What will we do if… The questions seem to be endless. The thought I often come back to is “but what about the teachers?”
Teachers, this is scary stuff. I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I am with you. In my little corner of the world I have watched teachers do post hurricane teaching in ways that have truly been a definition of resilience walking. I see teachers jumping back into this mode once again. I wish I had answers for you. I wish I had clear cut solutions and a well laid out 12 step plan, but I don’t. This stuff is just too complicated.
What I do have is a suggestion from my empath survival kit. That suggestion is to focus on the parts of this period that are within your control. This is an incredibly stressful time and although teachers often know how to tango with stress, this is a different kind of stress. This has a dashes of anxiety, uncertainty, grief and frustration.
In education, we often say “Maslow” before “Bloom” which reminds teachers that the basic needs of students need to be taken care or before we can be concerned with the levels of thinking that we plan for in our lessons. Teachers, please remember you need your own versions of “Maslow” before “Bloom.”
What is your plan for personal well-being? What will you do in order to be able to take things in stride one day at a time. Although I have my own little morning routine that helps me balance out my empath ways, I am going to borrow Jay Shetty’s. Focus on T.I.M.E.
Insight: Tap into what inspires you. When you can tap into content that will encourage your growth it fuels you to deal with challenges. Read, listen or watch something that sparks your interest. Learn a new skill or hobby that is COVID friendly.
Mediation: Finding moments of peace can be a challenge, but with calm and stillness comes clarity. Creating and practicing relaxed breathing patterns creates an alignment that helps us manage stress and anxiety. Be intentional about incorporating this time in your day, it will have a positive effect on the rest of your day.
Exercise: In addition to exercise being a good companion to any COVID eating habits that have emerged, it also improves our mood, boosts energy, improves our overall health, and allows us to have better quality of sleep.
Will T.I.M.E. solve your pandemic challenges? Nope. But in my books, it will help you build your resilience. In this period, it's not only the empaths that need to go out of their way to be proactive about their resilience. We all need tools that provide daily fuel to help us take uncertainties one day at a time.
What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? What will they say ?
To me, courage is one of the most important values. It is hard to follow through on the other values if you don’t have courage. Can you be honest in difficult times without courage? Can you be patient, when time doesn’t seem on your side, without courage? Can you show unconditional love without courage?
In this week’s podcast, which will be live tomorrow, I was reminded by Nicole Lynch of the root of the meaning of the word courage. Courage comes from “cor” which is the Latin word for “heart.” In it’s earliest form, “courage” meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
Over time the definition of the word courage has more typically been associated with strength and bravery and almost heroic deeds. But when we get back to the root, we are reminded of the everyday courage that is needed when we are willing to be honest and open about who we are, to allow ourselves to be seen and to be willing to follow our “heart.”
What does it mean to allow your true self to be seen? We are so often told that YOU should be YOU but then bombarded with imagines about how to YOU should show up…from head to toe.
Having courage involves you being willing to do the root work and understand who YOU are. When we can be authentic, be ourselves and show up as ourselves, that is when we get to true, deep and meaningful connection.
That kind of vulnerability isn’t easy though. It sometimes makes us feel weak, feel nervous, feel anxious and just… overwhelmed. To be who we authentically are is courageous. It means being willing to feel uncertainty and do it anyway. It means knowing you may be judged and doing it anyway. It means being willing to fail, and doing it anyway. It means…to do it anyway.
In this period there are so many reasons to step back from our dreams. There are so many reasons to shelve our passions. There are so many reasons to give up on what we believe because there are just too many obstacles.
My message to you is to “do it anyways”. Sure it may need some adjustments in this period, but draw on your courage to decide what those adjustments are and how you can still “do it anyway”.
Because when I really step back in life, my most precious gifts, my most successful projects, my most rewarding experiences, the pursuits that have set my soul on fire …they have all been “do it anyway” experiences. They were times that caused me to step up, be willing to sit in some discomfort and “ do it anyways.”
So my friends, my wish for you is that you dig deep, even when it is uncomfortable and have the courage to “do it anyway.” And know that when you “do it anyway,” you aren’t only doing it for yourself. You are fueling the courage of others to do their very own “do it anyway.”
Be well my friends ❤️
My dear friend, actress and writer Miriam Crawford Grant, calls me a curator of information and knowledge. Although I don’t know how she came up with it, it has stuck and a few other folks have jumped on that bandwagon.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a reader. Yes! Wipe the shock off your face. My mother spent many years trying to make me a reader, but I just wasn't really interested. (This is where the parents of 'not so enthusiastic' readers take note that this may change somewhere down the line). Sure I would read what I had to, but I had no problem living on the side of minimalism when it came to reading.
So what changed? My desire to understand. My desire to help. My desire to share. My desire to grow. My desire to parent, teach, and live from a position of power.
When asked about the confidence that she brought when she walked in a room, Maya Angelou would say: "I'm bringing everything I ever knew [and all the stories I've read]—everything good, strong, kind and powerful. I bring it all with me into every situation..."
This to me is why we go out of our way to be curators of knowledge. We go out of our way to be readers, to be listeners and to be watchers. This is why we go out of our way to allow the knowledge that we take in to help us gain perspective at every turn and to be the best version of ourselves with every step we take.
So for those of you who want to be readers but don’t know where to find the time...I understand. In fact I 'overstand.' When I began an intentional journey to build my knowledge through being more of a reader, I had no idea where I was going to find the time. BUT, I pushed myself. AND...guess what...when you get intentional about making the time for your goals, you find just like is stated in my favorite book The Alchemist, " when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
So be intentional. Whether it is about the knowledge you want to gain or any new habits or goals that you want to take on. Take the time to make a plan to take intentional steps towards your success.
Here are my top 5 ways for busy people to introduce reading into their daily routines.
Sometimes you just don't know what you don't know until you know it."
“Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know until you know it!”
In the last decade I have become acutely aware of the lenses in which I see the world and how those lenses have been built and focused due to my age, religion, nationality, heritage, education, socialization and the way I have been loved or sometimes… not so loved.
I am a Diversity Trainer and I absolutely love it. Seeing that “ah-ha” moment in a person’s eyes can have me flying high for the rest of the day!
See the thing with diversity training is many people don’t believe they need it…until they experience it. ☝🏾
One of my favorite words to break down is ethnocentrism. Essentially, it relates to the judging and understanding of cultures. Do you judge another person’s culture based on your own?
I often ask the hard questions (after of course laying the ground work like a good teacher/trainer). Do you have egalitarian beliefs? Do your actions align with your beliefs? Do you ever find yourself acting in a way that implies “my culture is superior to yours?”
Unpacking stereotypes, unearthing subconscious bias, breaking down barriers, challenging the way you live and work…that is some serious work. It’s not fun work, it doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy, it often doesn’t bring immediate returns, but the long term gains to one’s character are immeasurable.
I challenge you today to reflect on diversity. To be your own trainer. To do your own work. Worldwide, there has been so much in the news that highlights the need to go beyond awareness and discussion and move towards action. Solid, concrete, “I am going to fight through this discomfort for the greater good” kind of action.
Remember that diversity is more than just about race or nationality, but also about age, class, religion, sexuality, gender and the list goes on…
Do some knowledge hunting of your own. Find out what you “don’t know. “ Unpack your stereotypes. Understand implicit and explicit bias. Look for it. Call it out. Reflect on your views and ask yourself whether your actions are truly in line with your beliefs…even when you may be the bystander. Be willing to be uncomfortable…because I am yet to see positive change without individuals being willing to sit in a little discomfort.
Never underestimate the power your knowledge building has in your growth game and the game changer it can be for you, your circle and beyond.
Have a beautiful day my friends.❤️
Find the opportunity in your plot twist."
The structure of plot: Introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion.
So when I am teaching my students to see the simple elements in plot I often use this structure. It also helps when they are writing their stories in order to be able to see the “curve” fiction often follows.
So let’s translate that to 2020 shall we! January …the introduction ✔️ February…the rising action… ✔️ March, April, May, June, July….ummmmm do we call this rising action? Do we call this the climax?! I am going to call it the plot twist!!!
2020 will be a year to go down in history. I rarely trust the foreshadowing and have thrown my predictions out the window! For many, including myself, these thoughts can be overwhelming, perhaps even anxiety producing. Where will we be next month? When will we start to feel as though we are in the “falling action” and on our way to the happy ending conclusions like our childhood fairy tales?
So how do we manage this…embrace your plot twist. I know it isn’t easy, but if there was ever a time to force us to live (safely) in the moment, it’s now. Be open to the new possibilities. Be open to the hope of a new day. Be open to the new ideas. Be open to the good that can come from the “stretches” that many of us are doing in order to adapt to our plot twist.
Have a beautiful Friday my friends. ❤️
Deep conversations with the right people are priceless."
What is it about deep conversation that can be so fulfilling? Is it the talking part? Sure, it feels great to share. Is it the listening part? Sure, you can learn so much.
In this period we have so much change to sift through. There is so much collective uncertainty, grief, and hardship that it is easy to get lost on the day to day challenges. Although I think we all know, or have heard whispers of the benefits of focuses on “the present moment” and “finding the positive,” some days are more difficult to remain positive…or maybe I should stick to saying optimistic for this one. It may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, despite knowing that it is there, we may be willing ourselves to remember it rather than see it.
In these times, when it feels difficult, we have to remember to reach out. Reach out in the way that you would like others to reach out. Reach out and start a conversation...because with genuine authentic conversation, comes genuine connection.
After all…we are hardwired for it! In one of Brene Brown’s books she tells the story of a village where depression rates rose when washing machines became more common in households. Do you know why this occurred? Because by putting washing machines in homes, women no longer congregated to wash their clothes together at the river. Their connections changed. This modern day miracle, that I have had NEW appreciation for after each hurricane experienced in the TCI, had the power to affect emotion well-being.
Women thrive on connection and COVID 19 challenges our typical ways of connecting. (Anyone else missing their cocktail dates?!)
BUT, we are also creatures that adapt. So how are you adapting? How are you getting creative about staying connected?
It’s easy in this period to sacrifice our connections because of the “times,” but don’t underestimate these connections in our daily wellness.
Have the types of conversations that are laced with love, empathy, compassion and gratitude. The types of conversations where you each help each other to see the silver linings or simply to just hold space to recharge.
These conversations...these connections...these bonds...they keep us going. They remind us of our resilience. They remind us of our purpose. They remind us of our power. They motivate us. They remind us that we are all in this together.
Be well and connect my friend.
Have you ever just decided it was the right time to have a fresh start? For those of you that have been following me, you'll know that blogging is not a new thing for me. For years my blog has been where I have shared projects that I am up. I started with 'Turquoise Balance' and then moved to using my name.
have blogged about everything from Sisterhood, to parenting, to conflict int he workplace. My blog has also become somewhere for me to share everything from my book recommendations, to Child's Life episodes and Story times with Mrs. Robinson as heard on Radio Turks and Caicos to upcoming events.
Although all that content is still available here, I have decided to get back to where I began with blogging and sharing thoughts and insights from where I sit as a mom, wife, educator, coach, speaker and entrepreneur. As always, my hope is that you add knowledge to your tool kit, gain a little inspiration and are empowered to make the personal and professional growth you need to be at the best version of yourself!