Cue to now, 3 years later, and while I am not "cured" of my perfectionism and relentless tenacity, I have learned how to relax. I know that it's ok to leave work with piles of grading on my desk. I know it's ok to toss a Lean Cuisine in my tote bag because a pinterest-worthy lunch just ain't happening sometimes. I know that it's ok to listen to my body when it's craving sleep even though it's only 9 pm. I know that it's ok to skip a gym day and that I'm not doomed to be on "My 600 Lb. Life" if I eat a brownie in the staff room. I know that it's ok to say one of the most powerful words I had to train myself to say: No. No, I cannot help you that day. No, I have plans and can't make it to two things in one evening. No, I don't think that's something I can do right now. Saying no to negativity powerfully reshaped my life and made me a better, more genuine person. Life is too short to do things out of excessive obligation. Especially when you're feeling obligated only to yourself.
This school year has challenged me to re-up my efforts of learning to relax. My bunch of kids this year is hard, man. HARD. It's difficult to explain to those not in the teaching world, but let's just say there's a whole lotta special ed issues, students with emotional issues, behavior issues, etc. It's like my brain needs to be 110% engaged each day to maintain my sanity and for my classroom to be in positive working order. That's a tough pill to swallow after a few years in a row of wonderful classroom dynamics. Add to the craziness of my kiddos being a mentor teacher, team lead, and communicating with the other team lead at our school's new campus and you've got yourself a recipe for "Leslie crying in the truck on the way to do something fun." But no, I will say that powerful little word again: NO. I won't let this year break me. I will be strong. I will see the positive in my students and in myself. I will grant myself grace to acknowledge all the good stuff I am doing and the grace to know when to stop all that good stuff and take some time for me. I will still use my planners in all their forms, I will still strive and perfect, I will still be my best self. But my best me is one who is filled with the knowledge that NO, I cannot and will not do it all. But fortunately I don't have to. I have heaps of grace that I dole out to myself on a daily basis. The grace doesn't come from me, it comes from the Big Guy upstairs, but it's a grace I can dip into each day and breathe in and out, "I am enough."