Recharge, Refuel, Then Go to the ARHE Conference!

10 simple ways to recharge your energy and spirit.

Summertime has finally arrived! The long-awaited hiatus is here. As we all know, the joys of working with students are many. It’s an opportunity to guide and influence young lives in positive ways, a time to support them in their struggle and assist in finding their path, and a chance to see caterpillars transform into butterflies.

But let’s be honest: One of the joys of working with students is seeing them leave at the end of the academic year. A bit of peace and quiet descends upon campus. Staff and faculty take a moment to breathe and reflect on the past year. Of course, it’s not long before we start missing them — the hustle and bustle of the school year and the excitement of new classes, new information and new learning. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Truthfully, summers are not what they used to be. Today, we only have a minute before we are facilitating summer trips, preparing programming for the fall, going to conferences, writing letters of recommendation, preparing curriculum. In these moments, it’s important to refuel. There are a ton of websites that outline ways of firing up, but I think the important part is recognizing that the process or vehicle we use to recharge is as individual as each of us. Your job is to figure out what works for you.

At the end of my letter, I’ve listed 10 ideas for recharging. All are available to each of us, and some may be more accessible or useful in specific situations. Rather than randomly adopting a specific strategy, I encourage each of you to call upon your past experiences to teach you how to recharge successfully for your own body, mind and spirit. This also translates nicely to the work that we ask our students to do, though it may be within a structure or model; it’s important to learn who you are, what your needs are and how to honor them.

I recently attended a conference where one of the keynote speakers reminded me of my own work in this area. We were asked to think of a time when we were so engrossed in an activity that we lost all sense of time — something so absorbing that it didn’t actually feel like work, even if it was potentially quite grueling physically, emotionally or mentally.

I was immediately taken back to a sculpting class. There were five of us plus the model. We were in a cluttered space filled with half-completed projects, armatures and various tools for carving, smoothing and texturizing our work. The room was awash with a reddish-gray pallor, and the level of dust from dried clay was enough to set my allergies into full frenzy. I remember that I started the class with fear that I wasn’t going to be any good, that everyone would be better than me.

In reality, it didn’t matter. In the weeks to come, I would learn that the moment I stepped into the space, time simultaneously stood still and rocketed forward. Never in my life had three hours flown by so quickly. I would leave each week exhilarated, exhausted and already anticipating the next class.

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