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.