Monday, February 22, 2016
Decluttering My SLP Brain
My winter break officially started today. I spent the weekend lazing with my kids, binge watching BBC's Doc Martin and relaxing. Today, through some strange metamorphosis, I started a rampage through the house in a pitiful attempt to declutter. I suspect I felt compelled to be productive to make up for relaxing over the weekend, as if relaxation was a bad thing! I was like a whirling dervish grabbing at extra dishes from the cabinet, clothes from the attic, loose books, extra tote bags (many collected from vendors at ASHA conferences), and throwing them into piles. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to just cry! I began to think of the clutter as a metaphor for my life and became truly disconcerted. I sat for a moment and picked up my cell phone to check Instagram, for probably the 15th time this morning, and saw a post by Amy of 3D SLP referencing the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Coincidence? I think not!
I asked Amy about this book and she said, "Call me!" In her book, (which I have just ordered and have not read), the author provides an approach to letting go of the stuff that clutters your home. Amy shared that the items that are kept are those that bring joy.
This gave me the opportunity to look at other parts of my life within the same context. I naturally landed smack dab in social media-ville. Social media has it all, the good the bad and the ugly (insert whistle here). Every day there is another new-fangled way to put my life in the spotlight. There's Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and things I have never heard of. There are places to buy clothes, make-up, furniture, books, toys, home goods, and antiques. There are ways to gain support for every cause imaginable: donors choose, go fund me, and more. There are more and more avenues for selling our own goods: Etsy, E-Bay, and Teachers Pay Teachers to name a few.
How does how my participation in social media clutter my life? When I joined the teacher-author bandwagon it was to stretch my limits. I wanted to try something new and scary. I will also admit I wanted to be a part of a talented and diverse group. I somehow convinced myself that I would magically become a member of an elite group and my value would increase exponentially with each new product I created. I joined a plethora of groups for SLPs. Groups for TpT sellers, groups for school-based SLPs, groups for CAS, groups for peeps and RtI, and Language and Literacy. I get thirty notifications a day at least! I joined Periscope and now I can watch videos on how to use products in therapy. I follow more blogs than "Carter has little liver pills." Every week I have to catch up on 99+ posts. I can get sucked into Pinterest and spend 30 minutes looking for an activity where a die and plastic chips would have worked fine.
The excess and time lost are anxiety producing. I am so susceptible to the frenzy. In my attempts to remain current, to have the most motivating and fun games, or the best no-prep packet I have over consumed to the point of not even knowing what I have. I have seen a product on Instagram and clicked over to TpT only to shudder when I realize I already own it. I have purchased materials I have never printed and even worse are still in my downloads file. I have ordered professional books, with the best of intentions, yet still haven't found the time to read them. I have perused the blogs and Pinterest boards reinventing the wheel. I have spent eight hours on a product that I charge $1.50 for and have sold ONE. Yes, I have purchased materials that my students enjoyed and that have made my job easier. Most are well researched and fun. I have even created some pretty swift products myself, but it has come with a cost. I have fallen into a time sucking abyss trying to keep up. After creating my latest little gem with my face stuck in a laptop I asked myself, "What could I have done in those eight hours?" I could have read. I could have played a game with my children. I could have had conversation and a cup of tea with my husband. I could have visited a friend. I could have done a crossword puzzle. I could have called my brother. I could have prayed.
Why? Who am I comparing myself to? Do I get more street cred if I make more stuff? Am I somehow a better speech-language pathologist if add to my already overflowing speech files or my already jam packed schedule? In a recent conversation with another SLP friend, we remarked that when we started in the field we hand colored our materials. We did a lot with a little. Those of us in the schools were the MacGyvers of speech therapy. We were low-tech and creative. We could make a game out of a band-aid tin and a pom-pom. Oh the time I have lost!
This is what I have concluded, I can't keep up and more to the point, I don't want to. I want my time back. I am going to remove myself from most of the groups AND I am finished pushing myself to create materials for TpT. I set a goal to create twelve new products this year. After asking myself what my motivation is I realize I don't have a good answer. Does it bring me joy? No. No it doesn't. I feel proud of my products, but not joyful. I want joy. I want the joy that comes with simplicity. I want to declutter my SLP world.
I have made remarkable friends through my endeavors and those friends are not going anywhere. They are smart, funny, creative and diverse and I simply love them. They are real and if I can find joy in this, it is that I have I established relationships with those practicing in one of the best professions there is. With that I have decided to leave creative materials production and periscoping and Snapchatting to the young, tech-savvy, energetic SLPs. For me I will happily satisfy myself with my blog that few read, my Instagram posts that are so fun, and a little Facebook time with my family and friends. Ahhhhh, I feel lighter and more joyful already :)