When you are on your path, the world conspires to help you.
The past twelve months have put me on a path that has been both challenging and rewarding. As I look back on this time, I can see the truth in the quote above. My primary focus has been developing my leadership and knowledge as it pertains to burnout and resilience work. And at the same time developing my own practices of self-care and self-compassion.
One of the first things I decided at the beginning of my Bush Fellowship was to work part-time for the next two years. I never realized how difficult and anxiety-provoking it would be to walk away from most of my work responsibilities. Before learning of my Fellowship, the responses were of concern and alarm. Why would I leave my job to focus on myself and family? Now when I tell them that I have a Bush Fellowship, the responses are of support and encouragement. This whole experience has made me reflect on how we as a society put so much value on titles and jobs and so little value on taking care of yourself and spending time with your family.
After opening more time in my schedule to focus on my Fellowship goals, I began training and became a Certified Daring Way Facilitator. This certification allows me to offer trainings and retreats based on the research of Brené Brown. I am using this work to advance the work of the Bounce Back Project (www.bouncebackproject.org) in my community to create a collaboration of community leaders, healthcare workers, social services and school administrators. I facilitated a six-week “invitation only” Daring Way course for business leaders, healthcare leaders, school administrators, and leaders of Wright County Social Services. The intent was to appeal to the leaders in the community who would then vocally and financially support moving the work forward. It was an unbelievable group that came together to model vulnerability and courage. The attendees have set up a monthly “Daring Way” social for all “alumni” of the Daring Way courses as a way to create a community of support. Additionally, over the past year I facilitated a Daring Way courses for mutiple cohorts of Buffalo High School teachers, including the Superintendent, Principal, and Assistant Principals and some of our coaches. It is rewarding to see this work being incorporated into their curriculum and the school community. As a community we are currently finishing up a community wide book read of the "Gifts of Imperfection" and have engaged over 1500 community members participating in 40+ community lead book discussions. I have multiple different community presentations and retreats scheduled over the next six months as well as a online course we are gifting to our community called "The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting".
The training and work that I’ve done through Daring Way has been immensely helpful in the part-time work that I’m doing for Allina Health around burnout and resilience for healthcare providers. Very often frustration with work (which can lead to burnout) is related to things that we cannot control. The Daring Way work has helped me to see that what I CAN control is how I cope with those frustrations. As I consult with medical departments and providers across the system, the Daring Way skills of showing vulnerability, identifying triggers, and creating safe spaces for difficult conversations have proven to be invaluable. To give providers statewide an opportunity to talk about burnout and resilience in a safe space, I coordinate, through the Bounce Back Project, a yearly Continuing Medical Education conference, “Moving from Surviving to Thriving”, every December. Once again this year it was a huge success with over 300 people in attendance.
Because I love both travelling and the Daring Way work, it occurred to me that I could combine these passions. In June of 2017, I was fortunate enough to facilitate a resilience travel trip to northern Spain. The participants included a wide range of professionals who were able to earn continuing education credits in their respective professions, experience a beautiful reconnection with nature, and learn tools to improve their resilience in difficult times. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so I am currently finishing preparations for two resilience trips that I will be facilitating this summer, walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and the Via Francigena to Rome. (www.bouncetravels.com)
The fellowship has been a true blessing in helping me transition into a life that allows me to focusing on self-compassion and self-care. I have become aware of my own use of busyness and work to numb myself. I’ve learned that I can’t work on the important things in life…marriage, relationships with family and friends, or knowing myself, if I am constantly busy with work and other commitments. Now that I am working half-time, I have never spent so much time with my family and friends. It is amazing to have dinner every night with my family and plan family events, to meet friends for lunch, to work on the “honey do list”, and sometimes just lay in the hammock and just “be”. It’s an interesting transition to go from academically understanding the importance of taking care of yourself and thinking you are doing an ok job, to slowing down and actually doing it. It is a little disheartening to think about all the things I’ve missed over the past 20 years as I was performing and perfecting to fit into other people’s ideas of who I should be, AND I am so grateful that I am having this epiphany now, instead of waiting until I retire or not at all.