My understanding of my own leadership has changed a lot throughout my Bush Fellowship. I have had to embrace different aspects of my personality, my life experiences, my biases, and the hard work of self reflections. I am continuing to read and learn about personal leadership through books, leadership certification courses through eCornell, and continued work with my executive coach, IDI Coach, and my personal accountability group. I have seen some new approaches and skill sets that I want to continue to learn and apply. I also have had some huge career and life changes since the Fellowship began and they are making me really look at self care but also developing healthy time management and expectations of self.
Focusing on my own leadership has greatly changed how I work, see the value of self in relation to work, and it has also helped me to learn to let go. Last month I officially became retired from my music education career due to my disability. The pandemic and my medical conditions do not work well together and with no end of COVID in sight I had to make some very hard decisions by thinking bigger and thinking differently. To be honest the past few months have been pretty hard in self reflection and finding a new identity because I had been in the field of music education since my sophomore year in high school. I had worked above and beyond my limitations and abilities many, many times because I always felt like I had to prove myself. Since I am a wheelchair user, I have always had to advocate for myself and for my students with other mobility needs as well. I have had to push through my own physical and mental barriers but also through those of others- my teachers, my peers, my professors and supervisors, as well as some of my students. It was weeks into my "identity crisis" (of realizing I am no longer a music educator) when I had the great new title for my next career chapter- accessibility educator! I want to embrace this huge gift of the Bush Fellowship and recreate myself and my career to helping local business, families, and agencies/entities learn and change their physical space but also mind and heart spaces to be inclusive and universally designed. I want to go on the journey with these groups of people and not just be a stand alone trainer or presenter but truly an educator that walks/wheels alongside a group of people who are willing and wanting to change. I have a new found excitement and joy in my whole being as I continue to be pursued for a variety of new presentations, commissions, and local/state level leadership roles. I have also just recently started the journey of writing my first book!!! I am stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing all that is coming my way.
Many times in all these changes, new responsibilities, and adventures I have felt like I am drinking from a firehose. I have had my fair share of battling the imposter syndrome sprinkled with many texts and calls to my accountability group where I am feeling my heart grow out of my chest with excitement for the new opportunities. As we approach our final months of the Fellowship I am feeling an urgency of using more of my funds to truly invest in my self care needs for the next several years to come. I need time outside in creation with friends and in my accessible garden. I need to have an accessible space to be creative, to connect, and to self reflect. I am really seeing the importance of my story, not because it is about me but because we each have a story with life lessons to be shared not squandered or hidden. Life is SO short that we don't have enough time here to learn all the lessons, see all the sites, or hear all the amazing sounds in creation. But when others share their stories we can learn with them, see with them, and listen through them. In order for me to lead well I need to be healthy- physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I need a balance of scheduled and spontaneous life opportunities. I need self care to be number 1 in priority because all of life springs from my heart. This is a marathon not a sprint, and this fellowship truly is just the start of a journey not a map to a destination. I will continue to fight to see self care as sustaining my ability to lead and not as being selfish which is what I have thought for far too long.