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Balance

8 weeks ago, I was contemplating what to do with my life: 1) stay on disability, be heavily involved in my community and continue volunteer work; 2) work full time or 3) Go back to school. If someone had told me all that I would be doing in the next 8 weeks, I think I would have gone crazy at the thought. Thank goodness God keeps us in the dark at times.

Several people have written me wondering how I am since my blog has not been updated in quite awhile. Let me assure you, I am truly well and enjoying life, but the past few weeks have been so incredibly busy. I have been struggling to fit everything in, and at one of my follow up appointments, my trauma therapist said that in this time of change and stress I need to up the self care. I nodded and then left her office scratching my head and trying to figure out where the heck I would fit in time for self care. As I mentioned much earlier, I am in need of housing and have been working hard to organize a student house that lives an intentional rhythm of life in line with our community and provides hospitality to the needy and the vulnerable. This has taken meetings, numerous house viewings and the ups and downs of getting my hopes up for a place and having them dashed. Community life has kept me busy as I have committed to a lot and yet not enough in some ways as there are so many areas of the community that need people. Keeping clear boundaries is not my strength, and I have been testing the waters on this. Some days it is easier than others. But I frequently feel pulled by the amount of need and by my own heart’s desire to serve the Lord. And then there is my course, which I have to say I am absolutely loving… but it is intense…. a full term’s load of material crammed into 6 weeks. Then the court stuff is brewing constantly and I am anxious for a decision to be made so that I know what the future holds for me (as much as anyone can know such things). Despite being well and happy, I have been feeling increasing stress.

This past week, I was reading the chapter on health, well-being and stress and feeling more stressed in reading what chronic stress does to the body. I realized that I have all these pressures on my time and have been struggling to sleep, to make food so I can maintain a healthy diet, to exercise (which for me cycling is both a joy and huge stress reliever) and to just hang out with friends. When I was provoked to tears this week, I was reminded of what my therapist said – I need to increase self care. That is, I need balance.

I have never been good at balance. I get excited about ideas and projects and always quickly overschedule my calender. School is forcing me in a sense to watch the commitments I make as in order to do well, school has to be my primary focus. But still, there are some many needs in the world, and I have many gifts and abilities, and I tend to want to be a rescuer. But I am learning that balance is important. And because balance does not come naturally to me, I am learning that I need to be intentional about it. Balance promotes thriving. If I don’t eat, don’t sleep, don’t exercise, then the stress builds and I am ill-equipped to deal with it. As an introvert, if I do not take time to recharge my batteries, I cannot give to others in the way I desire.

So this week I pulled out my bike. It was quite the day. I didn’t look at the forecast and by the time I got to Camino house, it was raining cats and dogs and I was practically a drowned rat. I needed to get a new bike lock as my old one was no good. After the rain subsided, I left to fill up my tires with air. Literally ten minutes later I heard this loud sound like an explosion – I drove my tire over a huge piece of glass which meant I had to replace the tire. Then I got to campus and spent half an hour trying to open my bike lock, asking people around me to help me, and right before giving up and trying to figure out where I would put my bike where it wouldn’t get stolen during my 3 hour class, I decided to check and see if I was using the right keys. I wasn’t. The whole ordeal was a pain – but getting my bike fixed was the best thing I did for myself this week. Do you know how awesome it is to fly down a hill and feel the wind on your back? Or to pedal with all your might up a steep hill and reach the top? Cycling is fun, healthy and a stress reliever.

I have also been scheduling in tea dates (Did I mention I gave up coffee? I think that is proof of miracles in itself!) at the end of a chunk of studying time which satisfy my needs for human interaction as well as provide an incentive to work hard.

And yesterday, I took a Sabbath…. something that I have often tried to make happen on Fridays but have failed miserably on. Yesterday I slept in and was able to catch up on some much needed sleep. Then I hung out with a close friend and her two beautiful children (including a 6 week old baby who is the cutest thing ever!). There is something awesome about holding a newborn or making funny faces with a two year old. And then, to end a wonderful day, my best friend and I went for a long walk, gelato, and then talked for a long time with our feet in a little man-made pond under the full moon. And then I came home and slept.

Let me tell you, adding these three things to my week has made the world of difference to the level of stress and anxiety that I have been feeling.

Balance is important.

We need to work. We need to take care of our bodies through nourishment, exercise and rest. We need to serve. We need to have fun.

Balance is possible. But it can only happen through making wise choices with your time and by learning to set boundaries and say no. Balance, for me at least, is hard. But balance is worth it.

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  1. Rascallee
    August 5, 2012 at 12:44 am

    That word “Self-Care” is the hardest thing to do…I remember hearing all the time from the facilitators “please ensure you do self-care” all the time and never knew what they were talking about. It finally hit me after four consistent weeks of hearing this word that I realized how important it is to do self-care on a daily basis…it is hard to for us as we must always be on the go but my hat goes off to you to say I am glad you are sticking to what you learn…keep it up.

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