Things I learned on leave

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently took a four week leave from The Dale, and then returned in a part time capacity for another two weeks. There were a number of factors that led to my need for some time off, most of which were actually unrelated to my work here. However, I found myself in such a fatigued space that I wasn’t able to show up, emotionally, in the way that community work requires.

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to rest–I do not take it for granted! Here are a few things that I (re)learned during the last couple of months, in no particular order:

  • that even though I (rather pridefully) thought I’d figured out self-care and took rest seriously, I could still reach my limit and need an extended break. This was very humbling, and points to the fact that there is always more to learn and put into practice.
  • that my Dale staff team is the most understanding, gracious and caring team you can imagine ❤
  • that our Board is supportive and kind.
  • that tears contain cortisol, and are therefore natural little stress relievers.
  • that my friends/family are amazing, and don’t mind when I say I need to come over for a hug, then a cry, then another hug, and then a nap.
  • that, while I’m a cyclist at heart, walking is really great. That it helps you to look, not just see; to listen, not just hear (thanks to Wendell Berry for putting this into words for me.)
  • that poetry helps (I’m really enjoying a collection called “How to Love the World: poems of gratitude and hope”, edited by James Crews.)
  • that old growth forests help (and there’s one in Peterborough! Jackson Park shout out!)
  • that noticing and enjoying beauty is essential.
  • that “hope is not a waste. Hope is a song sung when everything else says you shouldn’t be singing.” (Padraig O Tuama, from his beautiful book In the Shelter.)
  • that light returns, bulbs sprout; death is real but life is real-er.
  • that we can believe in, choose and trust in joy, not because it’s easy or because it makes sense, but because it is a promise from the Source of all joy (see John 16:20-24)
  • that there are many definitions of self care, including: Self care as the right and responsibility to acknowledge and tend to one’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • that, for us adults, no one can be expected to know and meet our needs except us, with God’s help and by making clear requests of each other. This is not a fact that I love, but it apparently is a fact.
  • that our Dale community is more kind and supportive than I even knew. I wasn’t sure how people would respond when I returned after a sudden, lengthy absence. I would have understood if people were a little thrown off, but I was met with such tenderness and grace. When I explained that I had gotten over-tired without realizing it, and needed to rest, folks said things like “well yeah, you’re only human!” or “Good for you! I’m glad you got the rest you needed.”

I intend to keep unpacking and exploring and putting these lessons into practice. Please feel free to hold me to them if you see me forgetting. I hope at least one or two can be of help to you too, in your journey.

Much love.

By joannacatherinemoon

I am the Lead Community Worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale, Toronto, ON. The Dale seeks to create safe welcoming spaces in which all people, particularly those on the margins, are encouraged to participate fully, to the best of their abilities and journey together toward a deeper experience of the life God has given us. This blog is meant to help keep my supporters connected with life at The Dale.


  1. Yes, a right and responsibility!

    I want to read “How to Love the World: poems of gratitude and hope”

    Let’s hang out!

    And also, massage recommendations please. Safe, quiet ones LOL

    iEmailed from my iPhone


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