In this season that invites us to start lightening up, clear stuff out, and evaluate our warmer weather wardrobe, something about sleep caught my ear in a podcast. Evidently, it’s not “new news” that during sleep our cerebral fluid flows through our brains, flushing out “metabolic toxins.” This image has stayed with me as I snuggle under my comforter each night, encouraging me to substitute some guided breathing before bed instead of my customary novel reading. I love the idea of waves of fluid pulsing through my brain as I sleep, restoring and refreshing it.
This image has led me to think of other things that can also refresh, restore, and clean out my brain—wondering about ways to “spring clean” my outlook and to release my grip on unneeded waste. With my metaphorical feather duster in hand, I’ve come across an old box taking up space, covered with dust. It’s the box that holds all the moaning and negative thoughts around aging. I bet I could give it the old heave-hoe.
In my work, I have the great pleasure of working with many who are at the beginning of their professional journeys. They are not only deepening their skills and experience, but also actively wrangling with questions such as:
- What kind of work gives them the most meaning and best uses their skills?
- What is the right balance in their lives and how does work fit into it?
- What is the mark they intend to make on their own lives and the world around them?
As we support, coach, and learn from them, I see my current place in this professional journey differently. At the place I am, three decades into this social work profession, so many important questions that we must each answer for ourselves are long settled. I realized there are many weights that are carried early that fell off my shoulders long ago.
Which led me to open that dusty box of moaning. How focused my mind can be on the losses that come with years passing. And how much affirmation I get from others about the loss part of aging; age moaning is a great conversation piece. I realized the part of my life stage that needs the limelight are the freedoms and opportunities that only come now in all aspects, mentally and biologically. I need my attention to be on the questions of this stage of my life:
- How can I take my experience and contribute to those moving into leading?
- How can I learn from the generation joining the profession now to energize our efforts of change in the world?
I am finding many gifts, even energetically. My pace on the weekend run is slower for sure, but it is not being too Pollyannish to say moving slower creates a whole different view. Think of how much more you see from a bike than a car! I’m aiming for more sitting under an open sky than a narrow focus through binoculars.
Now that I’ve found that box of moaning, I am attempting to take it the curb for garbage pickup. Now, I’m on the prowl. Armed with more nights of good sleep and a properly refreshed brain, where are the other dusty corners or crowded closets that may need to be my next victim of the spring clean?
This blog article was contributed by Margaret Vimont, Vice President of Strategy and Service Development Nexus Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.