Last week at work was very busy with all the Positivity Week festivities. Residents and staff enjoyed watching the conga lines going through the halls, and the art festival was a big hit, bringing people together to create something positive. The week has left me feeling tired from all the extra work and stress of having to organize some of the activities. Something I’ve learned about myself when organizing events is that I tend to be a perfectionist. I have a picture in my head of how everything will look and it causes me stress when things don’t go that way. I am learning slowly, over time, that things will be fine even if they don’t measure up to my level of perfection. So, in order to release some of the tension from the week, my friend Springy and I treated ourselves to a morning at the spa. It was the perfect way to end the week and recover my soul by way of my feet.
It’s that time again. The holidays are here. The hustle and bustle of the season is notably present each time I leave my home to do any kind of errand or shopping. I hear people talking about all the things they have to do to prepare. They carry lists on paper and in their minds. I notice all the beautiful decorations growing around the town where I live and I love all the lights displayed on the houses and businesses. The lights are my favorite part of the holiday. When I was young, my Dad used to pile us all in the big yellow station wagon and drive us through neighboring towns so we could look at all the lights. I did the same with my kids when they were young except we did it in a big orange Volkswagen Vanagon. It is those memories that make the holiday time special to me.
Many years ago, before my marriage ended, I sat in my room one night and thought to myself, “I just want to be alone.” I was Mom to three young children, I worked outside the home, and I took care of a large, old farmhouse, mostly by myself. My marriage wasn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad, either. A short while after wishing to be alone, my wish was granted when my spouse told me he wanted to divorce. I freaked out, but quickly adjusted and got on with my life. I found that I liked being alone, unmarried. It felt peaceful and uncluttered.
I’ve recently come to realize that I am missing my alone time. When I moved to my new home almost a year ago, I looked at my new alone life as an adventure, something to be savored. Now I find that dream interrupted by circumstances in my life that involve others needing to be here with me. I find myself asking the question, “When did I become such a loner?”
I work in the very people oriented field of social work. All day long I talk, listen, counsel, humor, and console people. I love my work, but when I leave the building, I want to be alone. I want to listen to only my thoughts. I want to spend time reading and writing. I want to go for a walk. I want to watch the television shows that I enjoy. It is my time to regenerate and refuel for the next busy day when I work to serve others.
Sharing my home with someone has been both wonderful and frustrating, but mostly it has cut down on my alone time. I didn’t realize the effect it has had on me until I came home tonight and had the house to myself for the first time in a while. It felt so peaceful to come home and be alone. I realize that not all people are comfortable being alone. In fact, most people I know don’t like it. It makes me wonder what they like to do for themselves, something that gives back to them. Many years ago I read a book called, Take Time for Your Life, by Cheryl Richardson. She talks about a concept called extreme self- care, about making your life a high priority. What a radical concept. All my life I’ve heard about being selfless and giving to others first. This book gave me permission to make me a priority. What I discovered was that by making my life priority, I was able to give more to others. When I take care of myself and my needs, I have more energy to serve others. Without extreme self-care, I would have long ago burnt out in my very demanding job of taking care of people suffering from dementia and mental illness. It’s a very important job that needs all of me to be present.
During this busy season, be sure to make some time for things that are important to you. Give yourself the gift of time to replenish your soul and have a happy holiday.
Yours in transformation,