Self Care & Self Reflection

Three months ago, I took the first steps down an entirely new career path when I accepted a guidance counseling assistant position at a public school in St. Paul. Specifically, I oversee the standardized testing that occurs at our school, I manage student records, and I even have the opportunity to advise students on certain topics -- but I'm not a licensed counselor, so my opportunities in that realm are a bit more limited.

My past three months working in education have been an incredibly fulfilling and enlightening experience.  My position provides me with a looking glass into several directions I could potentially pursue if I ultimately decide to build a long-term career in education. I've had people ask if I plan to someday become a licensed counselor, or would I ever want to consider teaching and get a teaching licence, or perhaps I might eventually pursue a position at a district level versus supporting a specific school, or maybe even venture into political pursuits or policy making that focus on education improvement (I do have many thoughts on testing now!). And yes, I've let my mind wander and ponder what each of these paths could look like. But, it's all a bit premature, given I'm so completely new to this world and I have a lot to learn.

However, for now, I'm trying to focus on my current responsibilities and do them to the best of my abilities without getting too swept up in the excitement and stress of identifying the next big achievement goal. A key lesson from my career pause, after all, is to stay present in the "here-and-now", to live fully in each moment without getting too caught up in a specific narrative. It can be fun to dream, sure, but I have a tendency to get swept up in those dreams only to then to inject unreasonably high expectations and stress so that those dreams shift into more of a nightmarish territory.

It's not always easy to stay present, and I do find that now that I'm working full time again, I fall victim to some of my old and exhausting habits. My perfectionist inclinations and my inner control freak have followed me into my new career path. Those traits did not magically disappear just because I left the "high powered" world of corporate strategy and consulting. However, now I am much better about catching myself when these tendencies surface, and guide myself to a gentler, more caring state of mind.

In December, just before I started my new job, I chose to end my "career time out" with a Yoga retreat to Tulum, MX with my yoga studio. For 5 days, I had the incredible gift to practice self-care in an epic, inspiring, natural paradise, to reflect upon the big risk that I took when I left my job and finally allowed myself to imagine a very different sort of life, and redefine what "success" means for me (hint: it's not about "stuff" or income brackets).

Returning to that state of mind that I captured during my time off and during the Yoga retreat helps me to reconnect with my true intentions for the kind of life I want to live and the person I want to be. When I find the stress kicking up and the worry sinking in, I remind myself to "float down the river", to embrace the ambiguity and transition, and to relish in each messy, beautiful, chaotic, glorious moment.

Seaside Selfie. 
 Lighter in mind, body (by more than 25# at the time this photo was taken...even more now!) and spirit than when I first left my  job at the end of May, 2015.

Easy breezy beach side in Mexico.

Here I am, climbing a Mayan Ruin.

I captured this majestic sunrise my last morning in Tulum. 
What a perfect way to end one chapter, and begin another.