IF LAST WEEK WASN'T QUITE WHAT YOU EXPECTED ...

Michelle takes the pen to share New Year’s reflections as we welcome an unexpected first week of 2022



The first week of 2022 for us brought us the joys of family, and the sweetness of revisiting places where we became who we are.


At the same time, the New Year also brought the Hernandez family some bumps - closed schools, COVID diagnoses and long power outages. Most painfully, the fires in Colorado turned the town where we raised our kids into a war zone; 1,000 homes were in ashes overnight - including those of our dearest friends.


I had hopes for 2022 being a place of joy and ease and normalcy after the roller coaster of 2021. So it was tempting to feel despondent. But together in conversation with the team at Leading Elephants, I realized the world had given me just the lessons we needed. Here's what I was reminded of last week:


1. Contentedness lies in accepting what is, not in grasping onto "what it was supposed to be".

With headlamps and graham crackers in the pantry, my family had a fun night "camping at home" when we landed in Charlottesville for a busy week ahead - and realized our home had no power. Schools closing allowed my teens to help with cooking dinner and to dive into their college search. Having a team member out sick gave us time to rethink our workflow and goals for January. The real opportunity came by embracing what was in front of us.

2. Human-centeredness means taking care of each other.

We paused at the start of meetings this week to check in on how each person was entering 2022. Talking about the joyous times, the rollercoaster of emotions and our soul lessons lent sweet moments of connection with partners and clients, and brought us all back to center.


When close friends lost homes to the fires, my family created care packages for each family member - a hamsa to replace a collection that burned, fairy lights to light up a teenage girl's room at night, cappuccino glasses like the ones our friends used to served us so many many coffees over the year … It gave them daily moments of joy and love, but truthfully it was also a healing action as we processed our own grief.


3. When you’re feeling off, go back to the basics.

In my ideal vision, I am a person who meditates daily and exercises 4+ times each week. In real life, though, my habits fall off when life is busy but running smoothly. Wobbly times like last week remind me to go back to the basics. My Calm app helps me do a quick meditation every morning and I even journaled! When COVID rates made my new love of Spenga classes feel too risky, I headed to the basement for Peloton yoga.


I tried to be gentle with myself. Bubble baths are my go-to way to exhale, and I stayed close to home to feel the warmth of loved ones. This week I’m (mostly) back to my usual self, accomplishing big things and inspired about what’s ahead!


4. You always have a choice.

When the first 24 hours of our work week didn't turn out quite as planned, Amber and I had a funny aha.


"Ohhhh yeah … we are the leaders! If we are stressed about what's ahead, we could … change it!


We also watched an overwhelmed Chief Schools Officer in coaching this week come to great clarity on what was most important this quarter so that she could create space for her team to lead boldly on pain points hurting schools.


As we take a breath and manage yet another pandemic month, we realize that there is some amount of our stress that is a choice. When we wrestle to achieve our story of what “should” be, we put ourselves into a position of stressful hustle at best and disappointment at worst. Whether in formal positions of authority or not, we all have some level of choice about what is most important right now after we accept what is.


Our 2022 Wishes for You

How are you entering 2022? Are you focused on what you expected, or starting from where you are right now? Are you taking time to give moments of care to others - and remembering to attend to the basics of self care ?

You always have a choice. It might be as big as refocusing on the life you want to lead, or influencing a much needed change at work. Or it may be as small as rethinking your to-do list for today, or calling someone you are thinking about. As poet Mary Oliver reminds us, how will you live this "one wild and precious life?"

If you could use support stepping back on what is most important to you right now and how you want to step into 2022, please feel free to reach out for coaching!