When you are on your path, the world conspires to help you.
The past eighteen 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. Additionally, over the past year I facilitated a Daring Way courses for multiple 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. With this group of engaged individuals, we also facilitated a community wide book read of the "Gifts of Imperfection" and have engaged over 1500 community members participating in 40+ community lead book discussions. Over the course of the last six months, I have continued to struggle with the best way to engage our community as it sometimes feels like having weekend courses or longitudinal 8 week courses is too much of a time commitment for some individuals. Because of that, we have started a 2 hour evening talk once a month on the same principles and practices in short, bite-sized resilience talks. The response has been extremely positive. We are now preparing to launch our “Gifts of Imperfect Parenting” classes and courses after the first of the year and look forward to continuing to change our community in positive ways.
I have been busy over the past 6 months with multiple different community presentations and retreats scheduled across the United States with schools, communities, and healthcare organizations. 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. This year’s program is again coming up on December 6th.
I have also spent time over the past year becoming certified with the Center for Courage and Renewal as a facilitator of Parker Palmer’s work as well. With this knowledge and opportunity, I have been able to facilitate four resilience trips in the past year for healthcare provider and community members to places like Guatemala, The American Southwest, The Camino de Santiago in Spain, and the Via Francigenia in Italy. 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 has been overwhelmingly positive, so I am currently finishing preparations for three more resilience trips in 2019 to Guatemala, The American Southwest, and Germany (www.bouncetravels.com)
The fellowship has been a true blessing in helping me transition into a life that allows me to focus 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. It is because of this that I have made a transition of counting the days until I can retire to realizing that I really like my life with the changes that have occurred over the past 2 years and I can see myself continuing to do this work and lead for the foreseeable future.