22 Nov
A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S....

A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S. Thanksgiving meal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

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A Burnout Bio

18 Nov
Forest fire

Forest fire (Photo credit: ElissaMeyers)

It was a weekend of revelations.

One dear friend and colleague said, “I’ve missed your newsletter.  I used to gobble up your short blog posts.”

“You haven’t missed anything.  I haven’t been sending out many newsletters.”  I dodged, but I got her point.  Here was someone who had enjoyed my writing, and I had to acknowledge that I had stopped.  Stopped dead in my tracks.

Later that day, another friend asked, “So, how long has it been since you last wrote something on your blog?”

“Months,” I replied. “Months and months.”  Tears, surprising tears, began to well up. “I absolutely love to write,” I said. “But in the last few months, I just couldn’t face it.  I am all dried up, drained out, and have absolutely nothing to say.”  Gradually, after more conversations, I had a new and convenient basket to put my feelings in.  It was called “Burnout.”  Not just a label, this term was a holding place for the contrasting feelings of apathy and exhaustion, playing side-by-side with anguished emotion.

“What if you wrote about burnout?” My friend knew full well that it was a leading question, but I’m glad she said it.  It was plain as day, and she was perceptive enough to know that at that moment, I couldn’t see it.  Once she said it, I saw it instantly.  I even FELT it.  It was as though blood started flowing through my veins again.  Lights came on inside my brain. I could see new possibilities.

So this is the inaugural post, a simple introduction. Here I am, writing again, on a new blog. You will read my confessions from the journey, currently in progress, back from the brink.  Actually, I was past the brink.  That phrase just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I don’t have the right, nor the expertise, to tell anyone else what they should do.  All I can do is share my story, and hope that it inspires you.  Thanks for dropping by!

Are you, or someone close to you, experiencing burnout in some facet of your life? Are you a helper of “Crispy Critters?” Leave a comment, be in touch!

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