Personal Educator Reflections: Nurturing Myself via a Home Sanctuary
Nurturing Myself via a Home Sanctuary
It’s Saturday morning and I’m drinking my morning coffee from my current favourite cactus mug. I’ve got SBS Chill playing in the background for some ambiance. Have you listened to it? It’s actually really beautiful and really enriching my morning’s reflection and writing. It’s a gorgeous morning and I’m just hanging out inside before I tackle the household chores - which are actually steps towards my goals, so I shouldn't think of them as chores - more as goal steps which is putting a more positive spin on it!
As educators we talk a great deal about learning environments and their importance for children. We think about the nooks and crannies and how we can create spaces that promote and foster learning. You see it splashed all over the socials we all follow. We network and share to support our ourselves in our work nurturing our students. We are dedicated and motivated professionals who think about our day jobs well into the night. One might think we are obsessed.
This made me think - How many of us have sanctuaries for ourselves? Safe spaces we can retreat to? How much time do we put aside for ourselves? Or are we constantly “on”. Facebook and other socials have given us so much opportunity, but I think it has also limited us as well. So this realisation has led me to think about educators and whether we afford ourselves the same level of commitment.
They say on a plane during their preliminary safety inductions - put your own mask on first THEN care for the others. I’ve seen this analogy used before (don’t ask me where though!). So your own environment should be a nurturing space for YOU.
Your sanctuary doesn’t have to be your whole home. It can be a bedroom or a room in the house. Or you could a space outside your home where you can go and re-set yourself? A cafe? A garden? The library - with your nose in a book?
A friend posted a photo on her wall the other day about how she was grounding herself and reconnecting with nature. She was connecting with country and healing herself. She sat in the bush, red soil below her feet, sage coloured green around her, and a deep blue sky above. That was her sanctuary.
We do intense work. And sometimes it takes so much out of us. It doesn’t matter if you are working directly with children, or leading a group of educators - it’s emotional work and it can drain you very quickly. Especially when you are not shutting off and you are networking and researching online at night.
One of my Reflections of an Educator goals was around creating a sanctuary in my garden. It started out as a garden challenge (and that’s still happening!) but it evolved into a whole house AND garden project. I’m an easily-distracted-over-achiever!
I had taken some holidays last year from work and was going to dedicate it to the garden, but it rained a great deal … So I turned my attention to inside. You gotta roll with the punches. My living room and bedroom to be specific which are the two spaces I spend the most time. I wanted my living room and bedroom to sing to me. So, I’ve been a bit quiet of late on the socials, but I’ve been busying myself on stepping towards my goals. Documenting the processes within my Reflections of an Educator journal has actually made me more accountable. It has also allowed me to see my progress which I’m finding so rewarding. I would set goals before - and I would achieve most of them - BUT I didn't really engage with the process nor with reflection as much as I am now. So I missed out on the feeling of success and achievement!
How often do we say how important the process is for children and their learning? Well, I’ve just really connected with the notion that the process is just as important for us adults too - we are after all still learning and we are human.
I’m creating a skeleton space in my living room and soon to be super tidy bedroom. And I will use these as blank canvases and I’ll be like an artist and add to them. I was an interior design junky up until a few years ago. I stopped my magazine subscriptions because I was drowning in magazines! I have discovered a massive love/addition to Instagram and I’ve been searching for images to inspire my garden which has now become images to inspire my home as well. My love for interior (and exterior) design is renewed!
I am going to create a very visual vision board in my journal and I am going to use this as inspiration to guide me as I nurture the space that is my home so that it will in turn nurture me.
As I’ve been doing these tasks - I’ve really come to realise just how important spaces are. We need to create spaces for ourselves as well as our students. If we don’t have the capacity to make spaces for ourselves for whatever reasons, we need to seek them out elsewhere. I used to love going to a cafe local to my parents house or to the pub up the road for a lemon lime and bitters (it’s a gorgeous 1800’s house with wrap around verandas that overlook an ‘orchard’ of Manchurian pear trees that look amazing in autumn!).
As I’ve been playing around with my living room - I have been noticing that it really is impacting upon how I feel. When I had ‘trashed’ it - moving everything around into a big pile, furniture, boxes, shelves, coffee tables - I felt horrible. It was so … overwhelming for want of a better word. It really impacted upon how I felt. It was only part of the process, but it was still overwhelming. Our environments - wherever they are - at whatever point in time - they have an impact on our feelings.
To be completely honest, I’ve been ebbing in and out with keeping up with my reflections journal. Maintaining it can be a challenge - I totally get that. But it’s ok because I’m human! I have set aside time and gathered the resources I needed. I am going to use my little lap desk, turn on Google Chromecast (OMG do you have one? They’re awesome!) and work work work on my journal. I do miss it a great deal.
So, my question to you … Is do you have a sanctuary? If not, your homework is to go and find one! Everyone needs a nurturing space.
I originally wrote this blog for Reflections of an Educator published June 15 2019.