Canadian Music Trade - April-May 2022 - Page 9

By Glory St . Germain

From the Floor

Untangle the Strands of Your Overwhelm

Have you ever felt overwhelmed ? Me too . In fact , I did every day of my life for many years , until I understood a process of how to reduce the overwhelm and live my life the way that I wanted to ; with joy , purpose , and passion . I ’ m going to take you through my journey of overcoming the overwhelm as a professional music educator . I believe that in my journey , you will find some pearls of wisdom that you can use to reduce the overwhelm in your personal and professional life , too .
An educator ’ s life is like a multi-strand pearl necklace . Why ? Because there are three strands in our lives : professional , family , and personal . We often experience overwhelm in not just one , but all three strands , and they can become so tangled that it may be very difficult to separate them . But here ’ s the thing ; by separating one strand at a time , you are reducing the overwhelm . For me , it happened in three separate events .
Let me take you to the event when I untangled the first strand of my professional overwhelm . I was invited to attend a meeting of music teachers at a local coffee shop ; the discussions on the business of teaching , finances , and the curriculum were intimidating and an overwhelming question just entered my mind , but I sat firmly on my hands because I was afraid to ask a stupid question . That is the professional overwhelm of feeling inadequate .
Imposter syndrome is very real . There ’ s always someone with more degrees , more experience , more knowledge ; but that does not mean that you ’ re not deserving or capable . As I watched the body language of the other teachers , and I could see that they were just as nervous and embarrassed about asking questions as I was . But I knew if nobody was going to ask questions , I would never get the answers and neither would they . So , it was time to take a bold step outside of my comfort zone and make a paradigm shift . I briefly raised my hand to ask a question , and then another one , and then another one . I thought these would be met with ridicule , but I noticed that other teachers who were previously silent began to lean forward , as if to say , “ I have the same question .” By asking questions , you can reduce your professional overwhelm . That ’ s what teaching communities are meant for — to support each other . I helped others by asking questions and collecting answers as a group .
So , I untangled the first strand in the pearl necklace by shifting my paradigm from “ comparison mode ,” which made me feel weak , to “ community mode ,” which made me feel strong . May I invite you to untangle this strand with a paradigm shift to reduce the professional overwhelm in your life ?
I untangled the second strand of my family overwhelm when standing in the doorway that divided my home from my music studio . That door that separated me “ the teacher ” from me “ the mom .” As I passed through the doorway , overwhelmed with family activities , I shouted to my daughter , “ Clean your room , do your homework , brush your teeth — I have to go teach !” But when I passed through the door , I found that my tonality and attitude changed completely . There was no shouting , no demands . Instead , there were questions about their day , and a transition into the music lesson .
At the end of the day , as I opened the same door , my daughter was there waiting for me . She looked up at me and she quietly said , “ Mom , when you come through this door , can you be the teacher on this side , too ?” In that moment , I became the student . I understood what my daughter was hearing and what my daughter was feeling .
From the day that I became a teacher , I pledged to be empathetic to my students . But empathy was needed beyond the music studio . I untangled the second strand in the pearl necklace by opening the empathy door of understanding and meaningful conversation with family . May I invite you to untangle this strand with empathy , to hear what they hear , and to feel what they feel , and reduce the family overwhelm in your life ?
I entangled the third strand of my personal overwhelm when I opened my jewelry box . I remember looking at my mother ’ s pearl necklace and thinking of her . I wondered , “ What are my expectations as an educator , as a mother , and a human being ?” I was overwhelmed with a long list of desires and obligations , and I asked myself , “ How did my mom achieve everything that she did ?” I got the answer as if she was talking to me and saying , “ Accept and reduce the overwhelm of expectations from yourself . Know that you can overcome it .”
By simply living each day and each moment as it comes with grace , I felt the heaviness of responsibilities and expectations lifted off my shoulders . That day , I decided to leave the jewelry box open to remind me that I need to live in the moment and not dwell on the baggage of overwhelm .
We are all feeling that right now . Being able to take a step back , see the big picture , and then simply start with small steps . It ’ s the little things , just as each little pearl creates the strand of your life . You can remain in the world of personal overwhelm , or gracefully accept the gift of being who you are , and live life in the moment .
I untangled the third strand in the pearl necklace by accepting the overwhelm and knowing that I could overcome it . May I invite you to untangle this strand with grace and live in the moment by accepting yourself and overcoming the personal overwhelm in your life ?
Glory St . Germain is the founder of Ultimate Music Theory , is an international best-selling author , TEDx speaker , publisher , music educator , and more .