I made a small trade with a friend today: she offered me some glass storage jars which she’d just bought only to realise they were the wrong size for her needs. I gave her in return a rug we had stored away which matches her new curtains perfectly. Now I have freed up some space in my cupboard!
The trivial give and take was sweet but the nicest thing was simply seeing her today, feeling that I had time and space for social engagements, enjoyment and relaxation (and lending her my tall husband to help hang those new curtains:) ). Such a simple pleasure has not felt possible lately. I have been so depleted by my day job that — I now realise — I had withdrawn from everything unnecessary, guarding my energy ready for the next crisis to manage, the next overwhelming situation to navigate, the next unfeasible deadline to meet.
What changed? Well, I quit my job! Not as dramatic as it sounds. I already got a new position which I’m excited about. And all of a sudden I feel lighter and as though spaces have opened up — deep within me, as much as in my social diary 🙂 Hubby jokes that my face will soon ache from my smiling muscles suddenly getting over-worked as I stop clenching my jaw and frowning and instead find myself grinning all the time. He notices me dancing with the broom as I sweep the floor, singing quietly to myself as I fold laundry, and joking with silly the word plays that make sense only to us. All that light layer of existence that had been overshadowed by stress is re-emerging. It is a wonderful relief to feel more myself again. And slightly shocking to realise how far I’d shifted into survival mode.
When I gave notice to my manager (by video call, of course — such is the world these days) we went through the usual guarded professional pleasantries regarding work done, support offered etc. I’ve done this enough times with my own team to know the routine and go through the motions whatever the more bitter reality of the situation.
And then something surprising: my manager said that when I leave she’ll miss my kindness. Not something I expected, but very touching. If I wanted to be remembered, in any context, kindness would be a wonderful tribute. I’m happy that she sees me this way.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind. It’s not just a meme, it’s a valuable way of living.
Through the recent stress of my job, I’ve also been learning how to be kind to myself and balance my own needs against the requirements of a situation or the needs of others. It’s a work in progress. The importance of kindness is evident, how to offer or display kindness is a more nuanced thing that I continue to explore. On and off the mat, as a student, as a teacher, as a human being.