Shifting Focus

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Something strange is happening to me, in me, for me. I think it’s okay, but it makes me wonder. The precipitating event is relocating to the house I inherited from my parents so repairs can be done on the house I’ve been living in for the past 30 years. It’s a good thing in that I’ll be getting a totally new bathroom and  a new roof, and I get to finish going through all the stuff that once belonged to my parents and get this house ready to sell. I’m making a lot of progress by living here rather than driving two hours round trip once a week to work on it.

It’s strange to not be in my city where all my usual activities are. We drove the hour to church  and back again on Sunday and it’s not something we want to do every week. I’m going to miss a couple of my favorite annual events because it’s just not worth the extra time, energy, and pet care issues.  On one hand, I feel out very out of touch with the world. On the other hand, I’m getting more in touch with my family history and my grief in this house I lived in during most of my adolescence.

I’m not lonely because  I’m an introvert by nature. I don’t mind being alone most of the day with the dogs working on the house. I kinda like it. This makes me wonder if I’m  going to become a recluse.  But I have a choice about that. I see my husband every night and on his days off. We are going to explore local churches. Last week, I visited a friend who lives 30 minutes north. I’m planning a  trip to see my son and grand kids later this month for a short visit. So, I’m not a recluse.

Maybe this is just a season for me to withdraw a bit, to hunker down and continue the process of grieving the loss of my parents as I sort through photos, books, clothes, more photos, papers….. And I’m getting a lot done! I believe there will come a time when I’ll be more active in the world again.

 

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Valuing Our Time, Energy, and Life

 

time management quote by Thoreau

I’m paying more attention to how I use my time these days. Sometimes that means saying no to things that might be fun for some people, but not really my cup of tea. I’ve scheduled time to write on Friday mornings and work on de-cluttering most Tuesdays. These are things that can easily get crowded out. When I don’t hold firm, my writing, art, and de-cluttering projects tend to get pushed out into the zone of  no end in sight leading to despair and frustration.

It’s important to consider the value of our time and energy with each potential activity and how that activity will affect our life force. Will it drain us or inspire us? It’s okay to say no to things that take away too much life. After many years of service, I now choose not to add unnecessary stress to my life. Today, I choose activities that are meaningful to me.

The  volunteer work I do with children and community art projects inspires me. Singing at church energizes me. Working in the yard feels good when I don’t over do it. Swimming in the ocean gives me joy. It’s okay to do things that give us joy.

joanne in the ocean

 

joanne painting God

Singing Taize at GSC

 

What gives you joy?

What energizes you?

What inspires you?

Make time for the things that add life to your life!

 

Recovering from Burnout

blue butterfly

Thirty years is a long time for an empathic introvert to work in the field of addiction and mental health and in an environment of constantly expanding bureaucracy. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful to have served. I learned a lot. Parts of it, I even miss. About 20%. But that job took a lot out of me.

A couple weeks ago, I was driving down the street near my old office. The same street I used to drive Monday through Friday. The same street I drove to get home at 9pm on Thursday nights – my late night when I did my group. I liked doing groups, but the paperwork had increased to overwhelming proportions. I often prayed for deliverance as I drove home in those last years when I was a single mom, especially on Thursday nights.  Deliverance came in January of 2017 when the love of my life made it possible for me to “retire.” It felt more like an escape to freedom after years of captivity.

I don’t go to that side of town much anymore. It had been months since I’d driven down that street. As I approached the turn to my old office, I felt tension in my gut. How many years had I just sucked it up with deep breaths? Then, I passed by the turn and felt relief, gratitude, and defiance wash over me as I realized, I don’t have to go there anymore.

Could it be that I’m still coming out of survival mode? When I started my career in the 80s, I was eager and excited to help. After about twenty years, when the bureaucracy mushroomed, survival mode and being a single mom,  kept me there for another ten years. I think I’m starting to come out of denial, starting to realize how burnt out I was.

I used to think burnt out people didn’t care. But I still cared the whole time I worked at that job. Maybe I cared too much sometimes. I still care now. But I’ve learned to care about myself, too.

Maybe burn out isn’t so much about not caring as running on empty.

I’m still drawn to articles and memes about self-care. I’m protective (sometimes defiantly) of my time and space. I’m learning to say no to things that drain me like committee meetings and anything with a hint of bureaucracy or supervision, so I can say yes to what energizes me like helping first graders read, painting community murals, and organizing books at the mission thrift store. Now, I have time to say yes to the creative work that nurtures me.

Maybe this is what it’s like to be an assertive person with a healthy sense of self worth.

glass of water being filled

 

Do I harbor resentment? Perhaps. In time, I hope to let it go. Wouldn’t it be nice if resentment just faded away? That would be easier than letting it go. But right now I’m still feeling the need to protect myself.

I’m still putting back what was lost.

 

 

Honoring the Empath Within

blue-butterfly.jpg

“…if I was around someone who had a temper, someone who seemed to have no boundaries, or someone who was negative, I would feel a desperate need to figuratively throw glitter at them….”       Cynthia Sageleaf

I’ve known I was an empath for many years. I’ve never liked conflict or anger, and I finally became sick and tired of being a people pleaser. If you’re an adult, and you can’t be peaceful, then leave me alone.

I’m protecting my space, now.

Having worked as an addictions counselor for 30 years, I shielded when I remembered to, but sometimes things moved pretty fast (faster and faster as the paperwork increased).  I’m still irritated by one of the higher ups praising us front liners in a speech for  working “tirelessly.” Sorry lady, but we were tired. People get tired. I got tired.

The only way I survived that job was to toughen up, to turn my natural sensitivity way down, and bury a portion of myself. Now that I’ve been retired for one year,  I sometimes feel a little guilty about not doing more with my degree/license/experience to help people.  But I’m getting over that.

Last night I was in a meeting where a sensitive subject was being discussed. The tension felt like electrical charges jabbing into my body. I felt emotionally overwhelmed and wanted to run away. I stepped out of the room a couple of times and didn’t hang around afterward.  I’m starting to realize that with my defenses down, my empathic receptors are more exposed. When that happens, I want to hide out for a while.  And that’s okay.

For many years, I was tough, the breadwinner, the career woman. Now I volunteer two hours a week with first graders. I love their spontaneity and that I don’t have to do paperwork on them. Along with family issues that come up from time to time, I’m  going through all the stuff that belonged to my parents which is big job, physically and emotionally. In some ways, I still have to be tough, but now, it’s on my own terms.

My favorite days are when I get to stay home all day, do some painting or writing, and don’t go anywhere further than my own back yard.

moss-face.jpg

 

 

Boundaries for A People Pleasing Introvert

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I know it’s been a while since I’ve written here. Being “retired” from the old job and creating my own schedule opens doors to an abundance of opportunities. Home improvements, family needs, requests from friends and acquaintances, volunteering, and life tend to push”Loving Me, Too” to the back burner where my painting muse is hollering for attention. But all the while, I’ve been thinking about writing here and learning more about loving me, too and what I need to take care of myself better. Here are some boundaries I need to clarify:

  1.  I will not commit to or attend regularly any new groups where the primary activity includes sitting on my butt for an hour. This is especially true of committee type meetings. I’ve already spent too much of my life sitting on my butt. Which reminds me….
  2. I will go to a yoga class, swim, or walk to the park at least once per week starting  Friday.
  3.  I need to limit my involvement in politics.  I care about what’s happening in my country, and I might become involved in politics again in the future, but I have to be careful. Politics can suck time and energy away from things that sustain me, like art, writing, taking care of my home, and volunteering with first graders which I’m doing today – yay!
  4. If I go out of town, I will limit my time away to 4 days, unless my dog and husband are with me. I was just in the mountains for 7 days with a friend, and while it was beautiful there, I realized how much things can pile up and how much I like being in my own home, be it ever so humble.
  5. Thursday is art day. I’m painting tomorrow! It’s scheduled on my calendar. My art muse will be pleased and so will I.
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There’s no place like home.

 

Boundary Setting for this Busy Bee

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I tend to be one of those women who do too much. Since I retired from my 30 year career, I find myself exploring new activities that keep me busy. Too busy. Why do I do that? Maybe I just have so many different interests. Someone told me I’m a Renaissance Woman. I like the sound of that, but I want to make time for the things that are most important to me and I can’t do everything.

I went to a couple of political meetings and a local tree alliance. Both worthy causes, but what about my art which I have been neglecting? Okay, so I published my book and now I need to market it, but my painting muse is jealous!

butterfly mermaid in progress

She’s been waiting in the wings, saying Hey! What about me?

I’m going to work on this by Saturday!

Almost two weeks ago, I started volunteering at a nearby elementary school helping first graders with reading and enjoyed that, but three days later I came down with a head cold that is still with me, teaching me humility after saying, “I never get sick.” It didn’t help that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, staying up late on the computer…

One good thing I did a few months ago was to get back into yoga classes. It was in yoga class that I learned the chant: From now on, I send you only love.  I said it to myself in the mirror. It felt good, especially after I stuck out my tongue and laughed with myself.  I want to keep doing yoga once a week. Plus, I’m getting back into walking and will keep swimming when the waves aren’t too rough.

But I have to be more careful about taking on new things. So, I’m going to say this again: I’m not going to take on anything new.  No new projects until the following have happened:

1.  I’ve satisfied my painting muse (and finished my butterfly mermaid)

2. September is passed.

I’m helping a friend organize an event that takes place in September which is also the month I plan to visit my son and son and granddaughter. in the mountains. I’m so excited and have to stay well for that trip which means I need to get off the computer by midnight.

If anyone asks me to do anything new, my answer will be,

“Let me think about it and get back to you.”

Even if I really want to do it, I’m going to wait before I respond, to give myself time to evaluate.

With writing, I sit a lot which has caused some problems for me. So I don’t want to add any activities that are mostly sitting. If I take on anything new, after September, it has to be something healthy, fun, and physically active that gets me off my butt!

Like this:

girl swimming thumbs up

Photo from Pixabay

 

Poetry: I am.

Poetry: I am.

In this poem, Linda J. Wolff clarifies why I feel so comfortable being by myself and perhaps what it means to be an introvert. Yet I don’t want to be alone ALL the time. I wish I could feel more free to be myself when I’m with others. I want to be kind, but I don’t want to worry so much what other people think. This seems to have been been my dilemma for most of my life. I think I’m getting better at being myself around other people. No, I know I’m getting better at being myself. But I will always love to be home with just my dogs, especially when I’ve been around a lot of people like this past weekend.

Raqi Raccoon

…Being comfortable in your own skin is exhilarating, it shines from within the very core of who you are. A free verse poetry about accepting the person who you are. A digital art piece that’s easy on the eyes.

image of a rose

I exist.
Not because of anyone else,
and when I am with no one but myself.
There’s magic in just being.
Magic in just knowing,
I can be what I want to be.
It’ not about being something
for someone else or
what you want to see in me.
I am me; it is who I am.

It was never about you.

©Linda J. Wolff 2017

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