Wellness – Can’t Really Survey For It

April 1, 2016

I just spent a lovely Saturday morning, post-mediation, post-workout, and post-breakfast with a cup of coffee and the new HBO documentary, Everything is Copy. “A candid portrait of beloved author and screenwriter Nora Ephron, written and directed by her son, Jacob Bernstein.” It is well worth watching.

In the last few minutes of the film, Bernstein has his mother’s voice on tape sharing pieces of her essay, What I Will Miss from I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections

What I Will Miss

  • My kids
  • Nick
  • Spring
  • Fall
  • Waffles
  • The concept of waffles
  • Bacon
  • A walk in the park
  • The idea of a walk in the park
  • The park
  • Shakespeare in the Park
  • The bed
  • Reading in bed
  • Fireworks
  • Laughs
  • The view out the window
  • Twinkle lights
  • Butter
  • Dinner at home just the two of us
  • Dinner with friends
  • Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
  • Paris
  • Next year in Istanbul
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Christmas tree
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • One for the table
  • The dogwood
  • Taking a bath
  • Coming over the bridge to Manhattan
  • Pie

This list is so sweet, so poignant, so simple. These moments and experiences are what made Nora happy; what made her ‘well.’

So I am struggling as I try to find a link between the important things in life and a staff wellness survey sent to me by a colleague in by a nearby school district. In the survey, intended to gather data on which to build a Staff Wellness program, the questions include “How likely are you to participate in health screenings (i.e. glucose and cholesterol) or in a program on workplace safety?” as well as “What is your preferred mode of participation in a wellness program?” Might it be through a smartphone/mobile app or through a computer/virtual class?

I can’t help but thinking these supposedly unrelated experiences are deeply related. I can see how quitting smoking is essential to my wellness but the survey doesn’t get at my longings, my wishes, or my needs. It doesn’t look at my wellness beyond my stress level about finances or my need for preventative health care. This survey was a painful reminder for me of how intent and impact can be so terribly misaligned. I know administrators mean well and want to help their fellow educators and that a survey is an efficient way to gather data from a large number of employees. But I am not going to use the ‘Other’ box to tell you what I really need in order to be well, and I sure as heck can tell ya the fixes to what ails me won’t be found in an app. If you are in the area, let’s take a walk, laugh and eat some pie instead.

Cool Resources

It’s ON! The Women in Leadership Conference is happening! Corwin Press is sponsoring a conference and I will be there. Please join us. Location is New Orleans. Dates are TBD but most likely in October. Here is a start: “Experience interactive sessions where you can develop your talents within and among your strands of interest including leadership, supervision, advocacy, authorship, consulting and more. The institute is smaller in size than others, allowing for personalized support and true networking amongst attendees. Join us for real talk, laughter, skill building and support and become stronger, more authentic and empowered leaders in education.” More at http://www.corwin.com/WIL soon.

And, here is a pic of all the books that I look forward to reading this coming month. Send word if you have another one I should add to the pile.

About Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.

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“Jennifer Abrams is an exceptional presenter and author. Her workshops are motivational, memorable, and extremely useful. The lessons and skills that she presents are easily shared. Jennifer is charismatic, down-to-earth, and outstanding to work with. We truly enjoyed having her present to our administrators.”

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