Taking Care

The last couple of months have not been kind to my patterns of rest and Sabbath. I write that as if I am the victim of my calendar, which of course is not true. After all, I am the one who puts all that activity on there.  And I am the one who said yes to two jobs as the bulk of the time allotment… knowing that ministry work is not easily confined to allotted hours.

Thus, I will rephrase: I have not done a great job of making myself rest for the past couple of months. I need to do a better job of seizing gaps of unclaimed time and using them Sabbathly.

And so it came to pass that last week, I decided that for each of the 6 days leading into my birthday (yesterday) I would schedule in a couple of hours to do something I like or want or need to do. Something that would make a positive difference in my emotional, physical or spiritual health.

Monday I went for a pedicure, which I have been wanting to do for the past 6 weeks. Tuesday the family used a gift card I got in JUNE for dinner out. Wednesday, I get the oil changed in my car. Thursday I went for a massage (that gift card was at least a year old), and then Friday I finally got to the salon for the change in hairstyle I’ve thinking about  for the last six months or so. Saturday was a get on Ruby and ride sort of morning, which included breakfast at a local place that knows us by name.

Disclaimer: I know that none of these include the sort of emotional unloading and rearranging that therapy and spiritual direction provide, which is for sure the kind of self-care that makes a long term difference. But you know, the jump from ignoring and putting off the the little things to investing in the great big things is, well, huge.

Because I said out loud to my family and on social media that I was going to do this for 6 days, I had some low-risk accountability to make a plan and follow it. And it reminded me that really, it’s not that hard to carve out time, if it is a priority. Which means when I am ready to book that therapist and poke around, I know that I do have time.

Oddly, this little burst of “self-care” coincides with a conversation between Carol Howard Merritt and Rachel Hackenberg about what “clergy self-care” should and shouldn’t look like. I think you can find the other posts if you start here and Carol’s latest is here.  They are kicking around a lot of good stuff, and I hope they will keep the conversation going.

Meanwhile, I had a great birthday yesterday. I worshiped with my congregation, and they surprised me with singing and cake and lots of laughter. I saw a super local production of Spamalot with friends and family. Then I came home and collapsed EXHAUSTED on the couch at 6:30pm thanks to the combination of that full day, a congested head, and a typically late bedtime the night before (after wrestling another sermon onto the page).

It was a great week. My heart was and is full. And even with my car in the shop awaiting major transmission repair, I am feeling more balanced and able to deal with that and the cold or sinus crud that hit yesterday and kept me in bed this morning. Not because of (well-groomed) toes or a new haircut (which for the record, I really like), but because I have decided it feels good to take responsibility for listening to my self and for making time to respond to my own needs for rest, play and care.

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