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A Reflection on Mindfulness

Rebecca Kimball, Director of Athletics, Health and Wellness

Science tells us that increased productivity, joy and happiness is attributed to recovery. Taking small breaks in your work day, getting a full night's sleep and taking unplugged vacations can be critical to one’s overall health and wellbeing. 

Back in August of 2019 I arrived at Dana with my spouse, our aging 14-year-old lab, a breastfeeding infant and a curious and active toddler. I leave Dana in June with my spouse, a new puppy, and Pre-K and Kindergarten-bound little humans who had the courage to sled down Lathrop hill solo this past winter. 

As I sit on the steps of 1923 Lathrop House overlooking the Upper School field, I reflect on my journey here at Dana; the moments that were challenging and the ones that brought me joy and happiness. It wasn’t until this third and final year I realized that in the midst of performing my role as the Director of Athletics, Health and Wellness and taking care of my own family, I had let my own personal health and wellness deteriorate. As two full-time working parents raising children, we were doing what we had to do to survive and still perform well at our respective jobs. 

During this past winter break, my family and I were able to slip away to our cabin in Maine and rest. It was during this trip that I recognized my regression. As someone whose focus is athletics, health and wellness, I am very familiar with the phrase, “you can’t care for others unless you care for yourself first." The truth is, I was caring too much about everything except myself. I tried to answer every email right away, I did my best to resolve conflicts head-on and in open and honest ways, I didn’t let things sit on my desk for more than 24 hours, and I tried to be present at all events. I take tremendous pride in being a strong and independent woman, but I let myself down by not putting myself first and as a result, I lost my joy.

Prior to starting Tri II, all faculty were scheduled to attend a professional development day. These days are used to not only learn from one another, but to re-connect and take one last deep breath before students return to campus. I attended a workshop on Mindfulness presented by my faculty colleagues Heather Panahi and Meghan Gayton, two strong women who hold a space with confidence when presenting. During that session, something clicked for me. What I thought would be a presentation on a few quick tips to clear your mind, turned into so much more. 

Since January, I have stepped back into the weight room, started journaling, reconnected with old colleagues and friends, and learned to put the computer away until my children are in bed so that I can present with my family. I sought out the appropriate resources and shared my story with my closest family. Because small children do not allow parents recovery time beyond the work day, I have found micro recovery moments during the day, such as taking a walk around the pond, checking in on practices and enjoying the energy that comes from student-athletes and coaches doing what they love. I feel revived and re-energized as I look towards the future. 

I owe a huge thank you to my athletic staff for supporting my vision to enhance the athletic program.Their work never sees the limelight, but is invaluable nonetheless. Thank you for having my back and pushing me to grow in ways I never thought possible, and thank you for being strong female role models for our students. I am grateful for the hundreds of women who built the foundation at Dana to encourage girls to find and use their voices. I’m taking away many valuable lessons in leadership that I am extremely grateful for. I have been so fortunate to learn and grow from this experience and I look forward to following the Dana community and the athletics program as they continue to use their voices to roar.