Tag Archives: interpreters

This is not business as usual | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreting During a Pandemic

This is not normal. 

Interpreting during a pandemic, especially a VRS shift, is like entering a war zone. People are stressed, frustrated, in pain and completely freaked out – with good reason

Don’t treat your shift or yourself like this is a regular day. It’s not.

This is a triage situation. 

As interpreters, we can’t expect ourselves to be 24/7  enjoying our #quarantinelife, productive, #blessed, #handlingit, checking things off our bucket lists and doing our work like it’s business as usual.

This is not business as usual.“Interpreters are first responders who cannot respond.” - Babetta Popoff Tags: interpreting during a pandemic, covid-19

We are on the front lines, witnessing the lives of many people in crisis on a daily basis

Facilitating communication between people who are calm and connected is hard. Facilitating communication between people who are triggered, afraid, sick and overwhelmed is exponentially harder. It can be helpful to name why this is so hard. Let me offer a suggestion:

It is hard because you care.

Connect to the humanity of it. Seeing another human in pain (fear, frustration, anguish) causes us discomfort. It hurts because we care.

This hurt is compounded by the fact that we’re each personally going through hard things, so witnessing the pain of others lights up and intensifies our own personal pain.

Stress affects brain integration.

ID: 40 year old woman with short brown hair and mulitcolored sweater, pointing to her hand in a "4" handshape, symbolizing the brain as it dis-integrates. Tags: interpreting during a pandemic, brain integration, interpreter, self-care, flip your lid, freak out

Brain Dis-integration

When we’re calm, our brain is in a state of integration where all its parts work together to balance and support the other parts. We’re able to problem solve, understand different perspectives, organize our thoughts, and carry out our plans.

When our pain is lit up – when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, outraged, anxious – our brain’s connections dis-integrate, and we lose our ability to do all of those things. 

This video explains integration and disintegration with a ‘handy’ visual that you may just want to teach everyone you know. When you and those in your life have shared language for what’s happening inside, you can lean on it when times are rough. And boy, are they rough. 

Give yourself triage care whenever you can.

Identify ‘check points’ that remind you to scan your body for tension and breathe deeply into it, allowing it to release and relax. Even 5 second check points throughout the day can do wonders. During a VRS shift some check points could be:

  • During your setup process, just before you log in to take calls
  • While ringing or waiting for a caller to answer
  • While on hold
  • Between calls
  • When you log out for a break
  • When you return from a break
  • At the end of your shift

Make self-care a habit.

During this crisis, as interpreters we must have time and practices built into our lives to care for ourselves – to be able to handle the stress we’re exposed to and experiencing. This includes time to cry and grieve and scream and break down. Time to laugh and connect and time to just let ourselves be

Daily reflective practice allows our nervous systems a chance to decompress and rest, and builds stronger connections toward integration.

You wouldn’t ask your car to keep running without giving it gas. Don’t ask your heart, mind, or body to show up to work without having what it needs.

A daily self-care practice creates stronger connections for brain integration.

As you flex this muscle of integration, over time you will find it easier to stay calm through the hard stuff. When those around you are in disintegration, or when things are tough for you personally, your brain will naturally maintain integration in more and more difficult situations for longer periods of time.

The goal is not to become immune to disintegration, it’s to notice it.

We are human. The ability of our brain to prioritize safety when necessary is a very good thing. The goal then becomes a growing level of consciousness, where we’re able to shorten the time it takes to return to integration when we’re not actually in danger, and where we’re able to be gentle with ourselves and others throughout this messy process of being human.

In this integrated state, we become a true source of support for those around us, and are able to act with more compassion and empathy – for ourselves and others.

May we make this state of integration, compassion, and empathy the new normal. 

Self-Care Quickie: Brain Integration | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreters

Brain integration, dis-integration, why it matters to your interpreting and how self-care can help.

This information comes from Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, and I teach it to interpreters because it can dramatically alter our ability to attune to ourselves and regulate our emotional responses, attune to our consumers – allowing us to act with empathy and compassion, and it can also strongly impact our consumers’ ability to regulate their emotional responses.

Brain integration has a powerful impact on our interpreting interactions

Start with the hand model of the brain. 3 Parts:
PFC + Cortex – upstairs brain – executive function
Limbic Area – emotions and memory
Brain Stem – fight/flight/freeze, autonomic function

brain integration - interpreter - self-care - flip your lid

Flip-your-lid

When the brain is in integration:
Cortex, Limbic, Brain stem all connected
Cortex is regulating, soothing, and assessing all impulses from limbic and brain stem  areas/downstairs brain.

When downstairs brain overwhelms the capacity of the upstairs brain, cortex tries to hang on, to maintain integration – you know what it feels like when cortex loses its grip – FLIP-LID – in a matter of seconds we have lost our ability to regulate our emotions and behavior.

Disintegration is contagious

When one person has lost emotional equilibrium, it’s much easier for the other to lose it. You may feel this when you are interpreting – especially if it is a topic, attitude or behavior that is particularly triggering to you personally. During times of crisis, disintegration is even more common. 

Good news: Integration is also contagious

Integration is like a muscle, and involves several skills.

Any work that you do to create stronger connections in your brain promotes brain integration and will support you during times of stress and help you maintain integration with others who are experiencing disintegration.

Hand Model of the Brain. Flip your lid. Brain Integration as Self-Care for Interpreters

From: The Whole Brain Child, by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Self-care strengthens the muscle of brain integration

  1. In the moment – BREATHE – Deep, slow belly breathing, in and out your nose
  2. Reflective practice – meditation, mindfulness, conscious breathing practice trains the brain toward integration

Three resources for integration practice:

  1. Follow me on Instagram – in my story and highlights I share short mindfulness practices
  2. Self-Care Resource Page – links to free and accessible self-care resources to support brain integration
  3. Put On Your Raincoat: Energetic Protection for Sign Language Interpreters – online self-paced workshop worth 0.5 CEUs – includes a 7 day mindfulness practice

I’d love to know:
What helps you flex your brain integration muscle?

Thanks so much for being here with me. Take good care of your precious self.

I want you to know… A love letter for sign language interpreters

sign language interpreter, We can do hard things, Glennon Doyle

~ Glennon Doyle

Dear sign language interpreter,

I’m writing you today, because I really want to be able to give you a hug.

I want to look you in the eyes and tell you that it’s gonna be ok.
That we’re in this together. That we can do hard things.

I want you to know
that even though you may be in isolation all alone,
or an essential worker who has to choose between safety and duty,
or confined to your home with stir-crazy children and work to do,
or checking long-overdue tasks off your to-do list,
or paralyzed by fear,
or binging Netflix…

that whatever it is you’re experiencing,
it’s normal. It’s human. It’s okay. 

I want you to know that Burnout Proof Bootcamp is about to begin.
I want you to know that there’s something to look forward to.

I want you to know the joy in coming together with other interpreters,
talking about the hard stuff,
celebrating the good stuff,
and finding accountability within connection.

I want you to know there are many options for payment,
discounts,
payment plans,
sliding-scales,
because it’s so important to me that you have access to support.

I want you to know there’s much flexibility in the timeline to complete this course,
that you can take as long as you need,
that you have access for life,
that you’re not just registering for a workshop, you are gaining a support system.

And so, dear one,

I can’t hug you today,
but if I may make a wish, my wish for you is:

May you find willingness to meet yourself
in the many varied moments and moods of these days.

May you feel hope.
May you feel love.
May you feel joy.
May you feel connection,
in as many creative and curious ways as you can imagine.

May you make it through this season,
not unscathed,
maybe not even unbroken,
may you make it through transformed.

May this pause be an incubator for us all,
a fertile, pressurized, sacred time of death and rebirth,

And may we find each other, arms open wide, on the other side.

So much love.
xo,
b

Self-Care During Scary Times

In many cities here in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to get more real. For my family in Portland, Oregon, the biggest effects so far have been:

  • No toilet paper
  • Kids’ sports cancelled
  • My youngest son, Kiran’s, birthday brunch buffet plan is getting changed (coronavirus buffet? no thank you)
  • I actually broke out an antibacterial wipe and cleaned the doorknobs and light switches (completely out of character)
  • Many honest conversations with my panicky kids about what we know and don’t know

So much is unknown, and that’s understandably scary.

One thing that warms my heart and keeps my faith strong is seeing the support and thoughtfulness that’s already kicking in. At Winco yesterday (the grocery store with no toilet paper), I saw person after person, in the crowded aisles with dwindling supplies, helping others reach what they needed, dividing up the last of products that were almost out (rice and beans were hit hard), making space for all to stand in the long snaking lines. I felt so proud of humanity at that moment.

If you are feeling the effects of stress, illness, closures and cancellations, know that you’re not alone.

  • Keep reaching out. Even with ‘social distancing’, don’t isolate. Get online, find your community, and connect with others – neighborhood groups, common interest groups, the Burnout Proof Collective (our private Facebook community of interpreters working on self-care). Ask a friend to virtual tea over FaceTime or Skype. Get creative. Just keep connecting.
  • Listen to your body. This is a lot to process, and our bodies need our attention. Breathe into discomfort. Be as gentle with your discomfort as you would a scared or hurt child. Make space for your experience, support your immune system and nervous systems, and keep scooching toward comfort. 
  • Make time for you. I know it can be even more difficult to prioritize your needs and take care of yourself during stressful times. Don’t give up! Do what you can, even in the tiniest chunks of time, to attend to your own feelings and needs. I’ll be hosting a free 7-day self-care reset March 23rd – 29th, 2020 and I welcome you to join me. This will be a simple way to make space for yourself and connect with others. You can get more info and register here.

As always, comment below and let me know how you’re doing, how I can support you, and give love & support to each other. The Burnout Proof community is growing and thriving, and it’s because of you. I’m holding a vision of us continuing to show up for ourselves and others during this scary time. Thanks for joining me. 💗

Make Time for You: A 7-Day Self-Care Reset with Brighter Focus. March 23rd - 29th. FREE Click to Register.

Minding My Business: How I’m Making 2017 My Year

I don’t know about you, but right about now I’m more than a little concerned about the state of our country and our world. There are any number of terrifying scenarios that can (and do, sometimes) keep my brain running late into the night. At times the heaviness mounts to a pressure that threatens to crush my little spirit. How can we make a difference?
In these moments, especially, I lean heavily on my self-rescue toolbox. I push the pause button on my fear and I practice what I preach. I take a deep breath and channel Byron Katie: What’s my business? And I start there.
Some may wonder: How does this help? 
Well, let me tell you. When your airplane is going down and your cabin is losing pressure, you just must absolutely put on your own oxygen mask first. There is no way to be a hero, no way to comfort those around you, no way to make one smidge of difference until you are breathing yourself.
And so, here we are. In our plane which some might say is dangerously close to going down….and I’m putting on my mask.
What does that look like? You ask.
I’m happy to tell you.
Getting a Brighter Focus: Self-Rescue Blueprint
 
When I’m in need of a recalibration, this is my jam. There are probably millions of billions of ways to do each of these steps, so that’s where your own unique creativity comes in. Play with them, make it an experiment, and let me know how it goes!
 
  1. Get Quiet
  2. Think Big
  3. Start Small
  4. Give Thanks
Get Quiet
For me, this requires taking intentional space and time, alone, to just breathe and be. I absolutely must by comfy, so you’ll likely find me in slippers, soft pants, and a hoodie. I suggest you do the same. I might be biased.
Bre comfy
Spend some time, in this quiet alone space, with your breath. You might meditate. You might light a candle and sit in the dark. You might lie on your back and stare at the ceiling with your hands on your belly. You might be in a hot epsom salt bath. Whatever it is, just tune in to yourself and relax. Whenever I do this, I’m astonished by how much tension my body carries out of habit; and as soon as I notice it I feel it start to melt away. It is so magical, and so worth the 10 minutes!
During my quiet time I experiment with fun ways to help me get in touch with my spirit and the loving nature of the Universe. Pick one and start there. Some of my favorites right now:
sticky note affirmations
Think Big
 
Once I’m centered in myself and feeling calm and good, I want to take full advantage of the theta waves I’ve produced. I get to work. What to do while in this headspace?
Start Small
 
After getting all creative and big picture, it’s time to break it down. Teeny tiny bite-sized chunks is what we’re going for here. Whatever it is you just thought Big about, come up with the very smallest, very first thing you’ll need to do to scooch toward it.
Ask: What is the very next step?
 
And now, the hard part: Do that. At the very least, make a non-negotiable date in your calendar to get it done.
Give Thanks
 
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on all that didn’t go right, or what we wished we had, or on all that we’ve lost. When we can shift our focus, even just the tiniest bit, to what we do have, what went right, what gifts the challenge brought us, then a magical thing happens. We begin to take control of our own happiness. We transform our reality by changing our take on it. And it feels really fricking good in the moment. So now’s your chance…try it.
Ideas for finding gratitude:
i am only one
This process could take days or weeks, or it could take minutes. If you’re pressed for time, but committed to shifting your energy and effectiveness, make friends with your timer.
Let’s make 2017 the year we did not refuse to do the something that we could do. Will you join me?
 

Got Stress? Try This.

This is the most wonderful time of the year…right?

Jori van der Linde Illustration

Jori van der Linde Illustration

For some, it may be one of the most stressful.

If you’re feeling the pressure this holiday/election/winter/fill-in-the-blank season, here are some out of the ordinary stress-relief suggestions. If you try them, I’d love the full report!

1. Smash away your stress in an anger room.

2. Melt your holiday stress with these adorable animal live cams.

3. Invest in a smart patch that fights stress.

4. Embrace this ‘Less Stress, Greater Choice’ approach.

5. Spend 5 minutes with this neat visual meditation. 

If all else fails….curl up with a soft blanket and Will Farrell.

1720_ElfExcited_23

If only CEUs were always this fun to earn…

I have been a staunch zero-makeup wearer and self-proclaimed low-maintenance person for many many years. I think the last time I wore makeup was in the mid-2000s, and it may have been this:
makeup
Not a look I’m ready to resurrect.
So when one of my dearest friends, acclaimed makeup artist and ITP buddy, Meredith De Leon, invited me to be a part of her workshop on using cosmetics as a tool to improve our interpreting work, let’s just say my palms got a little sweaty. I had a flashback to all those years of bad eyeliner and all-the-wrong shades of lipcolor. I wasn’t sure there was any hope for me. But, knowing Meredith, and being the ever-adventurous soul that I am, I decided to give it a go. There was something in me that harbored a tiny speck of hope…maybe I was not a lost cause.
So last week I took her workshop, and I left a changed person. I learned all of the foundational concepts about makeup that I had fumbled through and done without all those years. I brushed up and got some new resources on how to tell if your skincare and cosmetics are actually endangering your health, let alone nourishing the largest organ of your body. And most importantly, my tiny flicker of hope was fanned into a brightly burning flame. I am SO excited to add
this No-Makeup look, to my toolbox as a technique to show up more fully and confidently in life and in work.
I love Meredith’s philosophy that is not about beauty, but rather about bringing forward the best self. Taking the noise away from appearance, and finding integrity–presenting on the outside as you feel on the inside.
I’m feeling so inspired, that as soon as I saw this December offering I wanted to pass it along to you…Another strategy to add to your self-care arsenal!
meredith-workshop

Spring-Clean Your Self-Care

Spring is a time of year for renewal and new beginnings. Whether it’s by planting your garden, decluttering, cleaning house, or just opening up the windows, this time of year beckons us back to life. Around our house, kids can be found playing outdoors in the late evening sun, bags of clothes are being passed on to friends, and the bathroom is getting a deep clean.
spring
After a long dreary winter (especially here in Portland), our psyches & bodies can accumulate just as much dust as our windowsills. This could feel heavy, tired, or like you’re emotionally stuck in quicksand.

Here are 3 easy ways to spring clean your self-care, to blow the dust out of our chimneys, open all the windows, and let the light stream in.

1. Hydrate
A super easy way to help our bodies process and purge the harsh leftovers from our winter indulgences is to up our water intake. You don’t need to drink so much that your bladder feels like it’s going to burst every 5 minutes, just enough to really get things flowing for a few days. When I’m trying to flush my system, I aim to drink enough that I pee every hour. I also like to up the detoxifying effects (and make it super yum) by adding a drop of lemon, lime, or grapefruit essential oil (just make sure it is certified pure!).

2. Take Time for Yourself
Contrary to its name, ‘Me Time’ isn’t selfish, it’s actually one of the most sefless things we can do. As natural givers we are often serving others and helping to meet their needs. In order to do this with authenticity and love, we must be taking care of ourselves regularly. This spring, commit to adding one small act of ‘Me Time’ to your daily routine–and if you don’t already practice it, make it a Morning Ritual.

A Morning Ritual is a bit of time that you devote to your own self-care (and if this is a new concept to you, read this awesome book!). You may do some yoga or stretching, read a passage from an inspirational book, mindfully make a cup of tea, sit quietly in reflection, write in a journal, or any practice that connects you more fully with your own aliveness in the present moment. It can be as little as one minute (seriously), but I promise you will be amazed at what a difference it makes to your day!

A good morning. #affirmations #doterralove #morningritual

A photo posted by @breanacrosshall on

3. Sweat
Any way you do it, movement that raises your heart rate is an excellent way to release the bad stuff we’ve stored up and make more capacity for the good stuff. Start with 5 minute segments: power walk around the block, hula hoop, jump rope, dance to your favorite song, have a horse stance competition with your kids, or plank. The increase in oxygen and blood flow, and the endorphins that exercise releases will turbo charge your next several hours…it’s a better high than coffee!!

Do you have a self-care habit you’d like to share? Please leave it in the comments below!!


If you’re in need of a more serious self-care intervention, check out this post. 

And if your body could use some extra help coming back to life, join me for a free essential oils class (in person or virtual) to learn about my favorite natural way to supercharge my health. Just shoot me a message here and we’ll work out a time to talk!

Hope you feel the vibrancy & aliveness of this magical season!

My #1 Tip for Sore Arms & Shoulders

Your arms work so hard! Give them some extra love.

If you attended my Morning TLC for Interpreters workshop at TerpExpo, you learned about this simple and effective technique that provides instant relief to sore muscles, breaks up adhesions, and reduces trigger points. If you didn’t, watch this short video to get started.

My favorite lube to use with this technique is the Deep Blue Rub, made by doTerra. I use this heating/cooling cream daily on my arm and shoulder, and get wonderful instant relief. Try it today to reduce your pain and inflammation! 

deep blue benefits

What’s your favorite way to care for your shoulder and arm pain? 

With love and bright focus,
Breana

do something today

Eliza Greenwood: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Eliza Greenwood
ASL Interpreter, Artist & Social Entrepreneur
Owner of Greensoda Productions

Eliza in Hawaii, December 2013

Hawaii, December 2013

The thing I most love about my interpreting work right now is being in the middle-school environment. I enjoy the rush and chaos of students in the hall and tween angst in the classroom. I find millenials so interesting and worthwhile. I am lucky to be at a school with a DHH program where there are other DHH staff to support our students and each other. Each of us strives to strike the balance in our interpreter-educator roles, which vary based on our backgrounds and the needs of each student.

Eliza, Rocky Mountains, bike lesson with brother, May 1988

Rocky Mountains, bike lesson with brother, May 1988

Having a good life-balance at work, I believe, helps me have “juice” for my arts/creativity in my own business and helping others with their endeavors. When someone comes to me with a unique business dilemma, I am eager to help solve it, like a puzzle. I enjoy interacting with other creatives and feeling like I am helping to make a difference in the world. I am a “social entrepreneur.” Navigating this is sometimes tricky, because my altruist-self would love to simply give away the work for free, but my entrepreneur-self (the one who sees that the studio lights stay on) recognizes that being mindful of business is key. I am proud of how I have worked towards this balance through the long and challenging journey of creating and distributing my award-winning documentary.

Eliza, with award for Best Film that Breaks Down Stereotypes from the International Disability Film Festival "Breaking Down Barriers" in Moscow, Russia, November 2012

Eliza, with award for Best Film that Breaks Down Stereotypes from the International Disability Film Festival “Breaking Down Barriers” in Moscow, Russia, November 2012

My identity as an artist and social entrepreneur has also informed my interpreting work, certainly. For example, when tutoring students, it can enhance the learning process to swap stories. They are interested to know what it is like to help secure film festival sponsors and travel internationally, for example. On down-time, I have also helped obtain equipment for the classroom by drafting/editing grant proposals with my boss. I share this now with the understanding that it fits my particular circumstance, but for many other interpreting situations, it might not work at all. I like the below image because it reminds me of the cautiousness and tension between our compartmentalized/neutral interpreter roles and how we bring ourselves into our work.

If I were to give advice about managing these varied aspects of our lives as interpreters, I would recommend being mindful about the balance between our own input and output. You see, we act as message/information conduits, so the flow of communication energy can blur into our own. In the past, one tendency for me has been to lean towards being more outspoken and visible. Lately, however, it has manifested inward. I’ve been reading books and making time for one-on-one friendships. I have also found it helpful to do vision boarding on Pinterest as I recalibrate my input/output frequencies. The below bike in the tree image speaks to this for me; we inherently leave imprints with our service (as interpreters, artists, activists, whatever), and the work affects us, too.

Bike in tree, Vashon Island

Vashon Island, WA

This is the fifth post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know an interpreter who’s doing something great please email me!