It is the eve of The Month of Mayhem. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. I just wrote a really poetic and negative couple of sentences about how I dread the holidays. It was so dark and dramatic that I deleted it. My assessment of the holidays boils down to two words: “Too much.” Too much food, too much work, too much stress, too much of everything. I went through a couple of decades where the holidays were a blur of excess. I used to expect a wave of near-depression as soon as the first decorations appeared — which means that from the end of September until New Year’s, I was in a funk.
The last few years have been much, much better. I have embraced the Mayhem, or at least accepted it as “the state of how things are going to be for awhile.” It really is OK. This year, I have new resolve to treat myself well and to pay attention to the warning signs that I could veer off into the “burnout zone.”
My inspiration today came from, of all things, the airlines’ pre-flight safety speech, regarding the oxygen mask. If you fly more than once a year, you ca probably recite the speech from memory. Here’s the part that inspired me: “If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, SECURE YOUR OWN MASK FIRST, and THEN assist the other person(s).” (Emphasis mine.)
The next few weeks will be full of demands. Lots of people ask me to do lots of things. Some of those things are my job, and some of those things, I really would like to do. But not all of them. I have new priorities: excellent nutrition and rest for myself, excellent attention for my clients and students, firm stop times for work so that home time is relaxing and renewing. If I do decide to say “Yes” to a request, I will make sure that I bring my oxygen mask along, and keep it ready for my own self-care.