It’s back to work for me this week. I’ve been off since January 13th, on a terribly needed “staycation”. There’s a six-month probationary period when you start working at this hospital. That means you can’t take time off for six months. For a hospital chaplain who works specifically in the trauma areas, that can be a difficult task. By the last month, I was drained, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually.
I remember my boss warning me before I even started the job; to be sure I do my work and find my balance in order to prepare for these six months. I confidently told her. “I’ve got it. Don’t worry.” In all honesty, I had it. I did do my job and completed my probationary period. Nobody can say that I didn’t do what needed to be done. Well, that may not be quite accurate.
I did what I needed to do for the work portion. What I realized during my time off was the fact that I didn’t do what needed to be done for me. I prepared for the extended time but didn’t give myself permission to take a step back when I needed to.
I thought I was finding the balance I needed. I come to work at the appropriate time for me. It tends to be early on most days, so I can prepare my heart and mind for whatever I encounter. I am good about leaving at the appropriate time too. In fact, I am quite stringent on that piece. There’s only been a few times that I haven’t done that, however I even prepared for that in advance. However, there still wasn’t a “balance” that I needed.
During my time away, I was able to accomplish some tasks that I wanted to do, including surprising a family member, writing, communicating, working out, visiting friends, sleeping, and a few other things that I needed (and wanted) to do. There were moments that made me smile, inside and out. They weren’t overbearing tasks or items that I couldn’t do at any other time, well maybe except the family piece, because that involved traveling and gas money that took a bigger dip than I originally thought. It was worth it though. The rest of what I did can be done on a regular basis.
And that got me thinking about the six months and being tired. I’ve been great about setting boundaries of when I arrive, when I leave and finding time to step away when things get tough. However, I know it can be better. I know have a what I called in my 6 month evaluation, “stringent personal work ethic.” I don’t give myself permission to step back when I need to, take a few moments to breathe and settle down. I wasn’t giving myself time or permission to do what I really want and what feeds my heart. What I did during vacation are things I can do during the workweek. I came up with “I don’t have time for that” excuses or “I’ll get to it tomorrow”.
Two things I learned this week. You make time for what you want to do. I get that reminder on occasion and have been over the years. If you really want to do something, you make the time to do it. You may have to make some adjustments in your schedule, but you can do it if you want to. I felt good last week and I want to feel good like that again.
The second thing I realized during my time off, well even before I had off, I am getting better in my self-care but I have a long way to go. It’s like that Joyce Meyer quote I see a lot, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” So this week, due to some God inspired direction, I am making small steps to improve some of those things. It’s going to take time and that’s ok. I would rather take the time and get back in the right direction than simply get up, run and fall down again. That’s something I’d rather not do anymore and it sure doesn’t feel good.
Remember Linda, you are not where you need to be, but thank God you are not where you used to be. That matters more than you know.