From the desk of Darcy Bakkegard,
As we brace for the change of seasons, I invite you to embrace your inner fat bear.
At a meeting recently I listened to one colleague share that they couldn’t find their spark. They were drained. Another shared that it felt like they were in preservation mode- just maintaining. Both shared these honest, real experiences with a tone of regret and guilt. They were frustrated. Typically highly motivated, productive people, both were struggling with this feeling of —not doing. Not being pulled to action, and therefore letting down those around them. Failing.
Talk turned to the fat bear contest, the National Park Service’s annual tradition to celebrate the bear who’s done the best job of prepping for the winter. We laughed that right now more than the yogic savasana we needed fat bear pose: the freedom to just eat and then take a long rest. And to be celebrated while doing so.
In light of the fat bear, it struck me that “in preservation mode” should likewise be celebrated. To preserve something is to ensure it lasts. Much of history is only revealed to us through preservation, past and present. From dinosaurs to pottery to cave art, we have information because it lasted. It was preserved, surviving all the changes and evolutions happening.
Moreover, the act of preservation is transformative: cucumbers become pickles; tart berries become jelly; raw veggies become instant easy side dishes. Wood is petrified. It is only through heat and pressure that preservation -transformation- is possible.
We have a right -a DUTY- to preserve ourselves. We cannot serve others from a state of exhaustion. Yes, our families deserve the best we have to offer every day. But what “the best of us” means will change day to day.
Ideas for Fall Preservation:
- Increase Collaboration. Resist the urge to hibernate and isolate. In times of stress, connecting with others is a proven road to wellness. So: What might you co-create? Do you have a neighbor who’d love to do a recipe swap: make two batches of something and switch with each other? Can your partner take on an extra duty for a while? (Remember: They will NOT know you need help unless you ask, no matter how obvious you think your need may be.) Can you collaborate with your friends, siblings, cousins for a weekly evening playdate/chore attack and blitz through each others’ houses? Can you meet your bestie for a cup of coffee, virtually if necessary.
- Adopt an “Oh Well” Mantra. My daughter asked to be a cupcake for Halloween. So I made her a cupcake costume and she adorned it with glitter tape sprinkles. Three days later, a week before Halloween, she decided she wants to be Anna from Frozen. Not going to lie, I had a lighting flash of irritation. But then…Oh, well. We had a blast making it together. So what if she doesn’t use it? It’s NOT worth a moment of time fretting so, Oh well!
- Empower others. Today I had my 3.5-year-old triplets clean for me. And it wasn’t a disaster! One collected and emptied garbages, one cleaned their bathroom, one cleaned my bathroom. By organizing my to-do list a little (and clearing off the bathroom counters), we accomplished a whole morning’s worth of chores in an hour. They felt important and I was tickled to have a few things off my plate.
- KISS. Keep it simple, silly. It’s ok to do less. My house may be tidy, but it is not clean! My kids have on clothes. That’s a win.
- Play. Draw. Act. Dance. Move. Connect physically and infuse life with joyful play.
There are seasons and cycles of productivity that shift, each day, week, month, year, and over your career. Lean into them. Make preservation an act of art and love rather than guilt. Relish it (yes, that’s a preservation joke). Life -and parenting and partnering and adulting- get hard. Messy. Exhausting. You must first survive in order to thrive. Embrace your inner fat bear.