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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to School

Hearing the term "back to school" brings back memories of years past, when I was a kid, mixed with bright and bold announcements for special back to school sales blaring everywhere in the present. But in between these extremes, there is really more to it. "Back to School" affects us all. Here are some reasons why and tips how to get the best start of the school year ever...

Ahhhh, summer. No worries, sleeping in, no tight schedule, simply being. Vacations, adventures, sun kissed faces, hanging with family, remembering dreams and likes, away from long lists of chores, tense and energy draining environments and long hours of work. Still today, although I find myself every summer to be busier than ever, I feel the very distinct "back to school" feeling come over me, right about the same time, the first ads for the yearly "back to school" sale start to arrive in the mail. It is a feeling of hope. I feel I have been given a clean slate, a new chance. This time I will do everything different. This time I will be all organized and clear about my priorities. I will not procrastinate and thus always enjoy doing what I am doing, because the pressure does not spoil my interest in learning and creating.

Back to school is also a time for reconnecting with friends, exchanging stories about what has happened while everyone was traveling and/or taking it easy at home. New trends become clear quickly. A slight feeling of having missed something is immanent. What if the one interesting thing happened while I was gone? What if something has truly changed just then?

The time right before school starts again is the ideal time to set the tone for the coming season. The mind is still rested and uplifted from the long days, more time outdoors and from relaxation. The desires of the soul - that could be heard again during those endless seeming lazy summer afternoons and mild evenings outside - are still fresh, are still known. A sense of oncoming seriousness is already in the air. This is the perfect time to plan. It is well worth it spending some time thinking about the few priorities and discussing them within the family.

Once the schedules have started again and the days are filled with countless mundane things that need to be done, a feeling of overwhelm starts to pile up slowly but surely, all the way to exhaustion. Being in the middle, it is often impossible to even find the time to think about priorities, let alone being able to name them. This overwhelm and sense of being in a hamster wheel or even complete chaos, barely making it from day to day, can be easily prevented by making use of this gap that opens up in the few days before and around the start of the school year.

Make it a priority and take some time. Whether it is you alone, with a partner, with kids as well. Agree on a time to meet and make sure there will be no distractions and the environment is pleasant, somewhat in order, and serene. Supply water and make sure no one goes into it hungry or with a high sugar or caffeine intake immediately prior. You want to be able to listen to the others. Start with the question "What is our main goal as a family" and come up with up to 3 priorities. Come up with up to 3 individual goals for every participant. Listen everyone out and listen with compassion, while looking for the magnificence in whose turn it is to speak. If an individual goal does not seem to go along with the family´s priorities, bring it up and find a solution.