Slowing down without feeling like a failure (is it possible?)

As social justice leaders, running yourself into the ground is not going to save us all. We need you for the long game. We need you healthy. So why do you/we feel like any slow down is unacceptable?

My last newsletter was sent over 3 months ago. Not gonna lie, I have been super annoyed that I could not send any newsletters for such a long stretch. You know it is bad when one of your newsletter subscribers emails you to ask if you are okay because you have been missing in action! During the winter break I hit a major burnout wall. I could do nothing but veg, watch movies, and generally enjoy holiday treats. The truth is I am both okay and not okay. In order to keep my whining to a minimum, I am allowing myself one paragraph to catch you up. Ready? Set? Go!

What the hell-o has Kim been doing? Why did she go missing? 

Facing the burnout wall, I still managed to craft a solid plan for the first 3 months of 2021: 
*launch the new podcast on whiteness;
*add more content to my white anti-racism and action course; and
*kickoff my 6-month Goal Rush group coaching program for social justice academics.

The last one is the only one I made happen. In January, my family and I decided quite unexpectedly to sell 2 condos and purchase a house. We found our dream home and moved in near the end of February. You know how moving is one of the top two most stressful things you can do in life? Well, let’s add to that major septic, plumbing, and sewage surprises that included flooding our finished basement. We are now on plumber #8 who is still trying to fix everything. Next week, we get to dig into the concrete basement floor to replace yet more pipes. Ugh. For the Case fam, 2021 already piled up a lot of shizzle (sewage joke in there somewhere).

All this to say, we are fine and coping. Some days we are coping better than others. We are fortunate to have the means to address the nightmare plumbing in this house. At the same time, the stress level has been HIGH.

Why does slowing down feel like failure? 

One of my biggest regrets of the past 3 months is that several of my own goals and projects came to a 100% halt. Am I the only one who makes a plan and then gets pretty frustrated when outside forces interfere? And I completely judge myself for it as if I had any choice in the matter. When life gets in the way, I am beyond annoyed and resentful that I have to slow down. And to actually stop? That is the most offensive result! Slowing down and especially having my own goals stopped feels like failure. To be supremely clear, no one else is requiring me to do any of this. We are talking about my own internal goals of launching the podcast. We are talking about my own goal of sending this newsletter twice per month, or at least more than once in 3.5 months. Even when life happens and the universe brings me the message to slow down, I remain resistant to an unhealthy degree. My internal message is usually something like, “regardless of the financial and emotional stress of these cast iron pipes, you should be able to get everything done that you had committed yourself to before you knew any of this would happen.” Yes, that sounds off the charts unreasonable. Of course, I tend to focus on what fell through and ignore all the amazing gifts during this timeframe.

How can we embrace the slow down and stop judging ourselves for doing less?

My internal message needs to become:
“Let yourself slow down and accept that some projects will wait. In fact, the podcast will be better because you will have clarity of mind for planning and the time needed to do it well. You deserve a reboot with no guilt for missing your own made up deadlines.”  
Yeah, I am trying to get to that new, more loving internal message. 🙂 And now, my own personal goals must focus on embracing the slow down, getting my health in order, finding more joy in each day, and reminding myself of all my accomplishments despite this temporary chaos. Here goes:

Today, I took a walk with Kent around our new neighborhood and admired the colorful spring buds on trees. Guster loves watching birds and squirrels play in our yard (pictured above). 

Guster, our tuxedo cat watching birds and looking into backyard full of trees.

Last night, we watched the new Godzilla vs. Kong movie for date night. This week, I zoom-met one of my favorite people from the TV show Married at First Sight, and we made plans to work on some anti-racism goals together. Over the last 3 months, several universities and colleges have graciously invited me to deliver workshops on my Syllabus Challenge, inclusive teaching practices, anti-racist pedagogy, and more. And that has been extremely fulfilling for me. My 6-month group coaching program for social justice academics (called Choose Your Own Adventure) is now in month two! We are currently working on the theme of how to “Embrace Your Inner Lizzo.” The key here is to intentionally make note of what is going well and all that we accomplish. As academics and perfectionists, we tend to focus on what we view as weaknesses and failures. And I think we all know this is NOT healthy.

My wish for you is that you take a moment and write down 10 things you have already accomplished in 2021. This can cover professional, personal, family, emotional, relational, physical realms — all accomplishments count!

Learn more about the White Anti-Racism and Action course I created for white allies.
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