Skill #13: Prepare For Re-Entry

Happy Labor Day, Friends. This is a re-post of a skill that seems especially pertinent this time of year. Next week we will be back with new posts.  Can’t wait to be back with you.


BIG CONFESSION. I totally blew this skill just this week. I did not practice what I am getting ready to preach and I am humbled and reminded of my own short-comings.  More will be revealed as you read along, but just so you know, I need to take my own advice!

Summer of my junior year in college was a tough time. I was working long hours waiting tables at Jone’s Beach and on my “off” days I was babysitting. Life got really messy when my mother had some kind of medical episode that resembled a stroke but wasn’t, and right before I left to go back to Furman I was caring for her and worried about her. Driving back to Furman, my newly purchased neon blue Ford Pinto which I bought for $900, broke down right on the Throgg’s Neck Bridge on my way out of Long Island which was so stressful I almost threw up over the bridge. A good samaritan helped me and got me back on the road. When I got back to Furman,  I was one of the leaders for a  service corps retreat.  When the retreat was over and I was back in the dorm, this is what happened.

collapsed neck
This is what happened to me during failed re-entry.


This is a picture of my neck collapsing. Yes, my neck completely collapsed. No muscle was working. I could not will my neck to hold up my head.  I had no other choice than to go to bed. Two days and many hours of sleeping later, my neck was fine. This happened again in my first year of teaching, and again, even more dramatically, after a trip to England. My husband and I got home on Sunday, I started a graduate class on Monday, and Wednesday afternoon, boom, my neck collapsed. I had to call my husband to come get me out of class. I think my country music theme song should be “Three times is a charm, or some of us are just hard-headed”.  I had to learn to Prepare For Reentry.

Re-entry can be a dangerous time. Rockets burst into flames if re-entry isn’t done right.

Mid- August through mid-September is a time of re-entry for so many of us. Getting the kids back to school, going back to school yourself, coming home from the last summer getaway, all of these things require re-entry. Re-entry can be a dangerous time. Rockets burst into flames if re-entry isn’t done right. My collapsed neck is my body’s equivalent of bursting into flames. Too much speed, not enough to cool me down.

What works?

I can share what has worked for me in the past.  It helps to clear the decks. Get rid of anything that is extraneous. No extra responsibilities, no company, no unnecessary travel, nothing new.  Try to take the first day “off” from any agenda, including work if possible. Be as present as you can be and let your body find its natural rhythm again. Drink a lot of water and not so much coffee and alcohol. Be prepared to be grumpy, irritable, and tired. Assume that your children will be also. Stay flexible. (See last week’s skill.) If things go wrong, try and go with the flow.  Keep a sense of humor, and practice laughing at yourself.

My last re-entry failed.

Last Monday I got up at 4am in NYC, was at the airport at 5:30, landed in Charlotte at 8:30 and drove to Columbia, arriving at 10:30. I unpacked my suitcase and made it to the office at 1pm to do five client sessions in a row. I stopped at WholeFoods on my way home to grab a salad, and was hoping to go to bed early and catch up on some of that sleep. Problem was, I could not fall asleep.  My adrenalin was flowing and my cortisol was up and I just could not get comfortable. I did all the relaxation tricks that I know, and I finally fell asleep around 11pm. Tuesday I got up at 6am and took a 4 mile walk, got to the office around 9:30 feeling great, but by 2pm I was crashing. Only I had to work until 7:30pm. So, I drank coffee and ate chocolate, and when I went home I drank wine to wind me down from the coffee and chocolate.  And by Wednesday I was whipped. What was I thinking? Oh, I was not thinking. I was not keeping my own well-being in mind and I did not prepare for re-entry.  Sigh. Blew it again. I am so grateful my neck has not collapsed.

Please do better than I did last week. Be prepared for the changes that will be starting in these next few weeks. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself and your children some space to adjust. Laugh a lot. Eat well. Move slowly.

A few of my friends have promised to hold me accountable. That is another thing that helps.

So prepare for re-entry, because Life is Messy, and Life is Marvelous.





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