Making Space for Inspiration
Have you ever traveled with children? Young children? How about four young children? Even if you’ve only ever done the first, you probably will nod your head in agreement when I say that travelling with kids is no joke! It’s exhausting!! It’s worth it in every single sense, and so incredibly fun to make these memories together, but absolutely exhausting… kind of like teaching!
I’ve had four kids for nearly 5 years now, and have gone on many vacations with them, but this past trip has been the most exhausting one yet. You’d think that as the years pass, and the boys got a little older, it would get easier, but this trip was different.
We headed to Vancouver for my youngest brother’s wedding, and it was the first time that my boys got to experience flying, so this was a real thrill. Passengers on our flight were thoroughly entertained… oh experiencing things through the eyes of children is a beautiful thing (if you want a smile, check out the video of my boys in this blog post).
Once we got to Vancouver, and settled into our hotel, we made the most of our time and went from activity to activity for 7 days straight. Whether it was wedding functions (rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, morning after breakfast, etc.) or sight seeing and exploring (walking and biking the seawall or going to the aquarium at Stanley Park, hiking at Lynn Canyon (with Tim Cavey and his family, woo!), going to Science World, taking the sky train, and aquabus, going to various playgrounds, etc.) we were always on the move. Our hotel didn’t have a pool, so there was really no space for our boys to “just be” without us having to keep a really close eye on them. They also went to bed late, and by late, I mean they went to bed when my husband and I went to bed, and we all woke up around the same time, too. This meant we never had a minute of down time.
Don’t get me wrong, this trip was amazing, it was just exhausting, and although I brought along my laptop, with the intention of writing when inspiration struck, that never happened. So when I got back, I started reflecting… why didn’t I find inspiration in the most beautiful places that typically would spark new ideas and connections for me? Easy… my mind was cluttered with a million and one other things.
As soon as we got home, my boys began playing in the pool and in the back yard. I started laundry and then went to sit on the lounger on the back deck. I was still surrounded by the same people, but it was that calmness that I needed to be inspired and write. And so I did. In that moment, I started writing this blog post and wrote a whole other one, too.
A week after we got back, my dear friend Tamara Letter came to visit me, and just left earlier today. We had a few things planned, including two full and GLORIOUS spa days. These spa days were in our calendar to give us the time to plan a collaborative project together, while relaxing and rejuvenating. I honestly can’t even begin to tell you how productive we were. It seems like the opposite of why you’d plan a spa day, you’d usually go to get away and relax, but in doing that, we were both able to disconnect which led to powerful conversations and incredible ideas. It gave us the opportunity to spend time together without distractions, and I truly mean without distractions – no kids, no students, no husbands, no social media… just two girls, with their bullet journals, and hours to chat, brainstorm, and pamper ourselves.
While sitting on my deck after my trip and during those two spa days, I was able to shift my attention which allowed me to dive back into my passions.
Connections began crossing over and I have been thinking about how often PD days and conferences are so jam packed that they create the same kind of experience that I had during my exhausting family vacation. If we truly don’t have down time to process what we’re taking in, or to do and create anything with what we’re learning, will it still have an impact on us, our teaching, and on those we serve?
Is this also happening in our classrooms? Are we giving our students the opportunity to be inspired, or are we constantly bombarding them with information and expectations of compliance? Are we empowering them so they can follow their own passions while making connections with what they are learning?
My trip with my family was incredible and I loved that we got to spend so much time together while making memories, but it certainly wasn’t the right conditions for me to be inspired. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just something to be mindful of… I can’t go through life always being in an exhausting vacation; I need to be centered so that I can shift my focus to find inspiration and follow my passions, too.
When you make space for inspiration, it will find you.
Let’s intentionally make that space for ourselves and for others, both in and out of schools.