As faculty, we can often find ourselves with plenty to do – grade, conference with students, serve the university and our community, design our next set of courses. You name the task, and you’re likely to find it on our to-do list. Then as humans, we have relationships to tend to, hobbies to enjoy, plans to bring to fruition – so much to do. Our guest for this blog post, Heather Gerbsch Daugherty – University Minister here at Belmont, invites us to pause and take care of ourselves as the semester closes and the break and holiday season commences.
I was in a hurry the late September morning that I turned on my trusty Prius, Pearl, and the message “Maintenance required soon” flashed onto the display. Having no time to think about that need, I hit the “Dismiss” button and went along with my day. This ritual repeated itself daily for the next several weeks as I saw the message that it was time to pay attention to the real needs of Pearl, but I couldn’t make space in my days to do anything about it. A few weeks later, the message changed to “Maintenance Required” and when I pushed the button to dismiss, the message would not go away. I finally had no choice but to make time in my calendar to get Pearl what she needed.
As I watched that message pop up each day, I began to think about what I was experiencing in my own life – a rapid return to “in person” life, the demands of a never-ending to-do list, and the number of times I had chosen to forgo essential healthy habits because there was just too much to do. And just as soon the proverbial “Maintenance required soon” messages started popping up in my life (incredible stress and anxiety, sleeplessness, a short temper with my colleagues and friends), I hit the dismiss button as quickly as possible because I didn’t have time to deal with it. And the longer I put off what my body was telling me I needed – the more urgent the messages became.
As the end of the semester draws near – I am feeling the effects of my continual dismissal of the need to treat my mind and body with kindness. I am feeling the need to find immediate solutions because I am not sure how long I can keep up the pace this semester has asked of me. As I look toward next semester I am asking myself what it would look like to pay attention the first time the warning light comes on and making space for daily “maintenance” of my body, mind, and spirit. For me, it looks like some kind of daily physical activity, a regular time of prayer and meditation, and permission to give myself time each day to set aside the never ending list of tasks and chores. I invite you, give you permission even, at the end of a long and challenging semester to stop hitting the dismiss button on your maintenance requirements and take the time you need to care for your own health and needs.
The Teaching Center offers Circle of Trust experiences facilitated by Judy Skeen. These experiences help faculty experience guided renewal. Our calendar will be updated soon with dates for spring 2022 Circle of Trust opportunities.