Monday, October 08, 2007

Recharging Those Batteries

Beth wrote the other day about recharging yourself and what people, or maybe women in particular do to take care of themselves, and I had a lot to say on the topic, so rather than leave a comment there, I decided to write a whole post about it.

Beth asks at the end of her post:

"How do you keep the tank full?
If you realize it is almost on empty - how do you start to refill it before you get physically ill?

How do you strike a balance between taking care of yourself and self indulgence?"

I think that these are excellent questions. My husband is always telling me to take time for myself and not get burnt out. He tells me this because I'm always complaining about being exhausted and about how I have no time for the things I love doing, or used to love doing, or want to love doing. He tells me to get the housework done early so that I can relax. He tells me to get myself treats or go out with friends once in a while, and sometimes, I actually try to do what he suggests.

I have a friend with whom I go out for coffee every few months. We'd like it to be more often, but it just doesn't happen, and even when it does, well, it's nice, but I wouldn't say that I feel necessarily energized by the meeting. In contrast, a few weeks ago, before the holidays, or between the holidays or something, (I tend to lose track at this time of year) I needed to get out, and so I went out with my husband for breakfast one morning and then we both began work a bit late. Even though it didn't exactly work out as we expected, and we didn't end up getting a full breakfast, but rather ate bourekas and drank Lemon Lime soda, that excursion with my husband felt much better to me than the trip in to see my friend. And seeing my friend doesn't involve any real headaches, like planning or organizing - we always meet in the same place at the same time, usually on a Tuesday, that's how predictable we are. Usually, I get a lift in to Jerusalem, and am able to get home easily by bus in plenty of time to pick up my older daughter. I don't mind bringing the younger one with me, and since we meet in the Central Bus Station, getting home is made very easy. Yet, it's still not something that energizes me, and because ostensibly, it's supposed to be, I tend to wonder why. Well, maybe it's because, even though this friend of mine is one of my very best friends, we've known each other for ages, and seem to be on the same page a lot of the time, I feel like I have to be someone I'm not when I'm with her. I've felt that way for many years around most of my friends, and I guess it explains why I'm always so exhausted...

Also, a few months ago, I decided to invest some energy into giving myself more energy. So, I started going to a shiur, and I initiated a creative writing group because these were two areas in which I felt that I was lacking lately and I wanted to give myself a boost in my Torah learning, and my writing. It was good, but not as good as it could have been. The writing group ended up being a bit too much of an effort, as it was held at someone else's house, right in the middle of the morning, when it's not incredibly convenient to drop everything and go somewhere, especially if you're supposed to be working. Also, I had to confirm with every member of the group every week, which became tedious even though it was a small group, and sometimes I would miss one of them, or something, and then someone else would miss the group. And the shiur was difficult because I had to bring my baby and she made noise most times and I felt bad about that.

Perhaps these seem like small complaints, or kind of silly, considering. What do I expect, anyway? Do I want the whole world to suddenly do things in a way that's convenient for me? I know that that would be totally unrealistic. And there are solutions for all these issues. I could have said that I only wanted to hold the writing group at my own home (which creates its own issues). I could have made a rotation between the four or five members of our group so that it was more convenient at least part of the time, and every week would be best for one person. I could have found someone to watch my daughter for the one hour of the shiur, or the three hours of the combined shiur and writing group. I didn't want to pay for something like that, but I could have figured something out. All things considered, I did what I thought was the best choice in the situation. One woman in the writing group is a bit older and has issues with walking and doesn't have a car, so we decided to hold the group at her home. I still feel that that was the right thing to do, and would do it again the same way. As I said, I didn't want to pay for babysitting and the baby really was a lot smaller and less mobile then.

In any case, one of the participants approached me about restarting the group, and I'm a bit hesitant because I feel that it wasn't the pick-me-up it was supposed to be. Now, I know that the solution is to make it into what I want it to be. The shiur has also restarted and I'm not sure about it either. Maybe I'm scared of things being too good? I use the fact that I have to work and that money is scarce as an excuse. We do have a lot of debt, and we do need to pay it off sometime in this lifetime. But that's just the point that Beth was making in her post. She was saying that women get burnt out because they keep giving those excuses to themselves and others, and then they never get to rest and recharge, unless they get sick, and honestly, what kind of recharge is that? So I do want to find the things that I can fit into my schedule and that will help me grow and be me. The question is how to do it...

Keep your eyes open for part two of this post - where I try to answer all of these questions, at least for myself.


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