Monthly Archives: November 2019

#NaBloPoMo: 30 Days

Postcard from my dearest Mikalina, sitting on my newly clean writing desk

Today is the final day of NaBloPoMo. 30 straight days of posting something every day, (except that one day I missed). It was good for me to write this much. I’d been trying to get back here more regularly since I quit my job in May, but it just wasn’t happening. So much wasn’t happening because I’m burnt out.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give, (read this full article: Burnout Prevention and Treatment).

The article that I pulled that quote from suggests burnout can be caused by work, lifestyle, or personality traits. When I read the specific characteristics on those three lists, consider the three possibilities, every single item on every list fits the way I was operating up until I quit my CSU job.

Just last night, I was curious and looked up the Facebook page for my department (I’d unfollowed because it isn’t good for me to see it in my feed all the time) and I was reminded it’s the 80th anniversary of its formation, which means lots of extra work for the communications coordinator right now. I realized if I’d stayed and been the one to do all that work, I never would have made it. I felt so relieved in that moment, so grateful I’d been able to make that choice for myself.

And I’m realizing that no matter how aware I am of what I’m experiencing or how much I do to take care of myself, it’s going to take longer to heal than I want. I’ve said before I had big plans to get a bunch of house stuff done over the summer, then when fall came, I expected to dive right in to my new career as a Contemplative Practice Guide. I have ideas and completely fleshed out plans of what that’s going to look like and what I’m going to offer, just need to put in some work on the back end of things (such as creating a mailing list and a new website and choosing an online payment method, researching venues for in person classes and workshops).

I adjusted my expectations recently to expect to start full speed at the first of the year. After just this short holiday week, having spent a lot of time working on cleaning and sorting my home office, and looking ahead to Eric being home for an extended period for winter break and needing to do some preparation for Christmas, I’m realizing that maybe the first of the year isn’t realistic either. I even suggested to my friend Mikalina yesterday that maybe I’ll take the full year off, May 2019 – May 2020, before I’m really ready to start.

And that’s okay. Things take the time they take, and in a situation where you are healing your heart, mind, and body, cultivating a new resilience, there’s no reason or sense in rushing it. In the meantime, I’ll keep showing up here when I can. Next month, starting tomorrow, I’m beginning one of my favorite yearly traditions, December Reflections hosted by Susannah Conway.

The idea is simply to take a photograph (and share it if you wish) every day in December while reflecting back over the year. I’ve provided a list of daily prompts with a mix of things to photograph — for example: through the window, floral, home — and things to ponder. The ponder prompts are an extra invitation to pause for a moment and consider some of your favourite bits of 2019. Share your treasured photos from the year alongside your thoughts. Dig further into the prompts privately in your journal. You may feel moved to create paintings or collages or poems. December Reflections started as a photo project but feel free to take it in any direction that calls to you!

As always, I’m so grateful that you continue to show up here, kind and gentle reader. Knowing that you are “out there” is such a comfort, such an inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you. ❤

Gratitude Friday

A Modern American Thanksgiving, image by Eric

1. Good food with good friends. The picture Eric took cracks me up every time I look at it. I was the only one sitting at the table ready to eat. All three of the other adults were taking pictures of the table. I know that many people would think this was awful or sad, but I just think it’s funny, and let’s be honest I only wasn’t taking a picture because I knew Eric would get one I could borrow. This picture was just a few minutes of that whole night, and doesn’t show all the time we spent laughing, talking, sharing food and stories.

2. Cupcakes. These are the ones I really wanted when I made some last week. The first batch turned out terrible. These aren’t a recipe adjusted for the altitude here, and the batter is deep and dense. I’ve baked these before, but the first time yesterday, I filled the cups too full and they spilled over then collapsed. We saved them because even though they were a mess they still taste good, but I made another batch to take with us to share. I made a few adjustments to the recipe for altitude (less baking powder, less sugar, and a bit of additional liquid) and filled the cups only half full, and they turned out pretty good. I also realized the mistake I’d made the last time with the frosting — I used butter and powdered sugar but forgot the cream cheese. It makes all the difference.

3. Snow day! We got 16 inches of snow overnight, so I cancelled my morning yoga class and my therapy appointment, stayed home in my pajamas and worked on cleaning and organizing my office. I also convinced Eric that even though he might be okay going out, it was better to just stay home with me and spend the day shoveling snow, (he did a LOT of shoveling).

4. Practice. As a teacher, it was actually a nice reset, a lovely rest to skip teaching last week. It’s like that thing they say about “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Since I wasn’t teaching, I got to sink into my own practice in a way I might not typically. I could practice just for me, do what felt good for only me — which in turn makes me a better teacher.

5. My tiny family. Eric was home this week on his fall break, and with the snow, the three of us got to slow down and hunker down in a way we don’t normally do. It was wonderful.

Bonus joy: friends with nice kids who you enjoy spending time with, how much bigger my writing desk is with all the crap cleaned off, good TV (Mike Birbiglia: The New One is streaming on Netflix. I saw the show live last year with Eric and it’s just so good), good music (Mary Lambert’s new album Grief Creature is everything I expected it would be), the stuffing I make every year (maple pork sausage, onion, celery, apples, cranberries, bread crumbs, chicken broth, a few eggs, thyme, rosemary, and sage — it’s SO good), leftovers, cuddling with Ringo, how Sam is always happy to take a nap with me, knowing that it’s okay if I need to take a full year off before I really start working in earnest again, having a partner who just wants me to be happy, the privilege that allows all this to be so easy, how happy it makes me when my clothes all match (like right now I’m wearing a black shirt, eggplant pj pants that are so ridiculously soft, and socks with black, eggplant and gray stripes), hanging out with Mikalina and Chloe’, texting with people I don’t get to see in person as much as I’d like but still feeling like I’m “there” with them, all things citrus (I start to crave it this time of year).