Do you know how to give yourself grace? Do you recognize when and where it is needed? Do you even know what the heck it means? Giving myself grace is a lesson I have been working on lately.
This past week, I returned from a family camping trip to Myrtle Beach. While there, we soaked up the southern sun while catching up with family members who we hadn't seen in ages due to Covid.
We left the same exact day that school let out for summer vacation. I realize it may not have been in our best interest to leave the same exact day. However, I wanted to break away from this past school year just as fast as I possibly could.
Most teachers are running on empty when June rolls around. But this particular year took a toll like no other. We made it through a pandemic. Something we won't ever forget. A chapter in our teaching story that we will be retelling for a long time. (May we never see anything like it again!)
My master plan was to go to the ocean and find my soul once again. I envisioned rooting my toes deep in the sand, devouring book after book, and toasting my skin to the color of hot cocoa. (With sunblock applied of course!) I am the type who can spend hours in a beach chair taking in the sights and sounds of the noisy yet tranquil shore. A type of meditation for me personally. It would be exactly what I needed to start filling my cup once again.
After a good dose of beach therapy, my goal was to return home rejuvenated so I could plug away at my book writing edits and podcast ideas.
Like most things in my life, it didn't go that way at all.
Don't get me wrong. The vacation was wonderful and necessary. It just wasn't the "relaxation" I longed for. Each day brought an itinerary of fun ideas and/or meeting up with people. And while all of this was enjoyable, it sucked the relaxation part right out of my trip to the therapeutic ocean. When I got home, I found I needed a vacation from my vacation.
Can you relate?
So, instead of productively getting to work on my manuscript edits or outlining the podcast episodes I dream of delivering one day... I threw in the towel and admitted exhaustion. I surrendered to the fact that I just needed time to unwind. Time without an agenda. Time without a bazillion ideas running rampant through my brain. Time to reflect on the miserable year the students and I had just persevered through.
Initially, I was beating myself up. Labeling it laziness or procrastination. But then I quieted my mean inner critic and looked at things through a new set of goggles and got some powerful clarity.
Turns out, the vacation was never intended for relaxation. The beach surrounding was just an added scenery bonus to what was really needed. Family time.
It was the first time our family of four had gone away on a week long vacation in five years. Did I mention it was a camping trip? That means we were crammed into a camper, up close and personal for a total of seven days. Each daughter also brought along a friend which made sharing this tiny living space all the more interesting. Talk about time to bond!
We saw cousins we haven't seen in years. We saw our Aunt and my amazing Mother-in-Law as well. I felt blessed in witnessing the chatting and interaction between everyone. When we gather, it is effortless to pick up right where we left off. A natural and welcomed state of being. We needed this make-shift family reunion more than we knew. Not only with those we hadn't seen in forever, but with each other as well.
I thought I had planned a beach getaway. But the Universe had a different idea. I could see that clearly in hindsight. So what if things didn't go exactly how I had played them out in my mind?!
As the Rolling Stones have so famously sang, "You can't always get what you want. But you just might find... you'll get what you need."
Where do you need to give yourself the gift of grace?
Are you being too hard on yourself?
Are you in need of break but feel guilty admitting it?
Are you losing your temper over minor situations because you are irritable?
Are you trying to take too much control over a situation that just needs to run its course?
It may be time to give yourself some grace, too. Cancel your entire day and watch tv on the couch if that is what you yearn to do. Cancel those plans you aren't so sure about and go for a long walk in nature by yourself instead. Whatever grace looks like to you, indulge in it! We have to be authentic when identifying our emotions. Sometimes we just need a damn break from all the things. When your body or mind says it's time... it's time!
Tune in and grace yourself!
Cut yourself some slack. Stop judging your every move. You deserve to give yourself this important gift!