The New Year approaches and my month of generosity is almost over. Hard to believe that two months of my transformational year are gone already.
In December, I have made mittens and I donated toys and clothes to a needy child at Christmas. I have welcomed friends and family into my home and have tried to be a good guest in return. I have tried to find little things to do to be generous towards my friends and family, such as scraping car windows without being asked or buying a friend a movie ticket because he always drives me places (he also happens to be one of the most generous people I know as well and I should take some pointers from him), but I realized a week or so ago that lately I hadn’t been generous towards one very important person- myself. I needed to fix that asap.
If there is one thing I remember having drilled into my head during my undergrad program in social work (and let’s be honest, that was three and a half years ago so I don’t remember much…) it was- avoid burnout! Engage in lots of self care and put yourself first before anyone else. To someone whose entire profession revolves around giving to others this may seem counter-intuitive and somewhat selfish, or at least it did to me initially, until I got burnt out, and burnt out again, and again until I began to recognize the wisdom in taking care of numero uno and setting more appropriate boundaries. (What do you mean you are a social worker who doesn’t work past four on Friday afternoons?!) I frequently remember a self care example I heard repeatedly from professors through college… Similar to the safety instructions they go over on airplanes about putting your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else in case of an emergency, you have to take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy in order to be able to function well enough to assist others. I had to realize that thinking of yourself first doesn’t necessarily make you selfish, it simply assures that your mind, body, and soul are rejuvenated so you can continue to be fully present in the lives of people you care about. I would like to note that “taking care of yourself” doesn’t mean going out and denying or taking things away from others, it merely means acknowledging and honoring the fact that you too are worth a little TLC once and awhile. I would also like to note that burnout isn’t exclusive to social workers, everyone from stay at home parents, to lawyers and doctors get occasionally burnt out from life’s daily grind.
With everything that has happened the last few months, with moving, the holidays, and working two jobs, I was getting down to my last nerve. I was tired, cranky and frequently pessimistic. So what did I do? I took a vacation! (Well, technically I worked myself to death this month making sure I had made productivity and had everything done and turned in that I needed to BEFORE I went on vacation, but that’s besides the point.) Between weekends, paid holidays and the days I actually took off I have had eleven glorious days of absolute freedom to do whatever the hell I’ve wanted to.
So in the interest of being generous towards myself this is what I have done, or plan to do (since vacation isn’t technically over until after the new year) with my numerous days off…
- Had a snow day pajama party with my puppies and watched horrible romance movies I borrowed from the library. (Kate and Leopold was a little far fetched, not to mention Kate was kind of a bitch. The Wedding Date was cute, but some of the acting was truly atrocious.)
- Visited family for several days in Northwest Ohio.
- Was actually able to read an entire book from start to finish in a reasonable amount of time instead of over the course of several months.
- Went and saw Les Miserables in theater on Christmas day. (It was AMAZING! If you haven’t already seen it run, don’t walk to your nearest cinema and see it NOW… Seriously, why are you still reading this? Stop wasting precious time and go order some tickets!)
- Have made/ am going to make lots of awesome food including grain/dairy/refined sugar free chocolate cranberry scones tomorrow for breakfast, which is exciting because I haven’t had scones in probably eight months now. Cross your fingers they turn out well…
- Went to karaoke last night and listened to several dozen appalling renditions of 80’s songs being sung by extremely inebriated people who had no business singing in public even without having consumed copious amounts of alochol. (Needless to say there was lots of incoherent screaming.) I also bore witness to an incredibly awkward version of “I Touch Myself” by a suspender-wearing, Steve Urkle type, that was reminiscent of the Keith- “Like a Virgin” audition for American Idol way back in it’s first or second season. (For those who don’t remember, have never seen it, or are masochists and want to relive the hilarity and pain all over again click here.)
- Spent time in the studio working on personal creative endeavors and Christmas presents for friends. (I made some really awesome gifts, but will have to post pictures later because I haven’t given them to the lucky recipients yet…)
- Spent many hours writing and philosophizing in my journal.
- And to finish off my vacation I intend to go to several parties on New Year’s Eve, stay out way too late, sleep until noon the next day and then have people over for a traditional lucky Irish New Year dinner of corned beef and cabbage- huzzah!
With all this free time I am trying really hard not to be critical of myself when I don’t get everything finished in a day that I wanted to, or if I didn’t really do anything that day period.This is vacation after all. Trouble is I need to remember to do that all the time- to be generous to myself everyday, and maybe then I won’t feel like such a shrew by the time my next vacation rolls around.
Ok, now for the upcoming month… As I mentioned earlier- two months down, ten to go. In January my focus is going to be on spirituality, which I am really excited about and have some great ideas on how to expand my own spiritual practices/knowledge. I have some awesome books I want to read and talk about, as well as I am planning on attending services from several different world religions. (This may include attending a Scientology meeting just for shits and giggles, although I don’t know if I will have the guts to go through with that one. We shall see.)
Stayed tuned, I will be continuing with new posts again here at the end of next week. Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!