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.




Boundaries for A People Pleasing Introvert


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.

There’s no place like home.


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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It’s OK to Cry

Stream of consciousness

A Mountain Stream by JoAnne Silvia


My old career, my new career, social media,

Church committees, volunteer work,

Arranging words on a page, Youtube, TV,

Laundry, yard work,

And my father’s estate

Have all kept me busy,

Kept me from my feelings.

Especially the ones I’d rather not feel.

I should be happy.

I am happy most of the time.

My life is good.

I’m so thankful. Thankful beyond words!

But those damn feelings,

The ones I’d rather not feel

Squeeze their way out of the closet

And sit in the corner,

Waiting for me to drop my guard.

Like the day I go to yoga class

for the first time in weeks

and after I get home,

A wave of sadness

Grabs me around the chest and tries to pull me down.

I resist at first.

I don’t want to care.

After all, I am an introvert.

I don’t really need people

hangin around all the time.

I sure as hell don’t want to be needy!

I can take care of myself,


Maybe it’s just hormones.

But the distance weighs in.

I miss my daddy.

And Mom.

And my two sisters.

And my dog, Jesse.

They are all D E A D.

I miss my daughter, who is alive

For which I am thankful.

I miss my son and his children,

Yes, I have many blessings.

I’m thankful already!

But the distance….

The wave wells up again, and I let it pull me down into my bed,

Let the sadness flood into me.

My daddy is gone.

God holds me while I cry

And tells me it’s okay to feel this sadness.

I’m supposed to feel this sadness.

I’m allowed to feel whatever comes.

I’m allowed to cry sometimes

Even when my life is happy.


Bruce Jenner aka Caitlyn…being free!

Thank you, to “Bipolar Drunk Chick” for getting me thinking about positive what if’s. Her post reminds me when I worry about the scary what ifs, I can turn them around to good ones. What if I let people know that, deep down, I’m still an introvert, that I can be overwhelmed by loud crowds and need alone time to recover, but I know how to find the calm center of a storm…..what if I tell people I sometimes need time to process things, but I’m good at looking at all the options. What if I tell you that my energy level fluctuates, but I am good at being patient, most of the time, and always bounce back sooner or later. I’ve told my husband these things and he accepts me and loves me as I am. What if I believed that all the time? What if I believed all the time that it’s completely okay to be who I am? What would that freedom be like?

Bipolar drunk chick

I just listened to a segment of Keeping up with the Kardashians and heard Bruce Jenner say that once his Vanity Fair cover came out, he will be free.  He discusses his lifelong struggle with hiding his true self.  He says from a very young age he felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body.  Now that he is transitioning he seems so happy and actually looks quite feminine and comfortable in his own skin.  However, the bashing and hate from the public is so frustrating for so many reasons.  It is as if, if we do not go with society norms that we are somewhat a freak or a sinner or crazy.  We are labeled and put in a box marked do not open.  We are shunned and talked about behind our backs.  And I feel the exact same way Bruce Jenner feels,  as a Bipolar woman.  I am…

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Taking Me Time on Vacation.


Headed for New England, by JoAnne Silvia

Have you ever felt you needed a vacation after your vacation? Or maybe during your vacation?

I enjoyed our recent trip to Connecticut for my mother in law’s birthday. She is as gracious and lovely as she was in 1972 when I first dated her son. It was fun to get to know David’s friends and relatives better and listen to the stories. But after a couple days, I found myself very tired and was grateful to be able to take care of myself with a long nap- in the middle of the day without feeling too guilty.
After airport security and maneuvers, two flights from North Carolina, and being in a place that was not home, with a lot of people who I like, but who I’m not used to, I was reminded of what I cannot deny:

I’m still an introvert.

Maybe I’m an introvert because I’m also empathic. That would explain why  the airport experience, as exciting as it can be, can also be quite draining. On our first afternoon in Connecticut, David was driving the rental car by Avery Point, in Groton. The blue sky and calm waters of Fisher’s Island Sound beckoned to me. “Lets stop here,” I said. So we got our feet on the ground and breathed the fresh air. That was me time.

JoAnne looking at water

David took a picture of me at Avery Point.

I’ve learned that an introvert needs alone time (or time with a small number of people) to recharge his or her batteries, while and extrovert gets charged by being around people.

I can act like and extrovert. I can speak in front of a large group of people without shaking too much. I can even play my guitar and sing for communion at church. But underneath it all, I’m still and introvert by nature, and that means, sometimes I just need to be alone, or surrounded by nature to restore my spirit. It’s how I take care of myself.

What are some ways you take  care of yourself? What steps can you take to make more time to restore and rejuvenate your spirit?