Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My mantra: self-care is a good thing!


I don't know if I've mentioned it in a previous post (and frankly, right now after my evening cup of Sleepytime tea, I'm too lazy to care), but I dropped a class. Yes, that's right...I am only taking nine credits. Instead of dropping a job, I cut back academically. My rationale for picking the class over the job:

1) I need money. Well, not need, need, but I want to start to save some more so that when Ben and I start our life together, we will have some additional financial backing.

2) I'm ahead of the game when it comes to credits. With 33 already under my belt, I can afford to take only 9 this semester and still be on track to graduate "in time" (i.e., within their idea that the MDiv program takes three years to complete). When you factor in that C.P.E. will be an additional six credits that will happen over the summer, I'm in goooooood shape. (Note to self, start C.P.E. application! All you who read this, harrass me about it, ok?)

The real reason I cut back is due to some serious self-care issues. Something inside of me almost died when I was talking with some people (who shall remain nameless) and upon mentioning how every last moment of my day was scheduled and busy, they said that it was good, and how it should be. Time for self-care and self-nurture is very much a foreign concept, one that I started to learn senior year of college and one that I need to continue learning. I will not be able to be an effective minister if I don't intentionally carve out some time for me.

Secondly, I almost started crying during the mandatory Monday Supervised Ministry meeting when Dean Samuel was talking about the busy life of a seminarian. So: I totaled up all my hours as follows (with 4 classes) upon the general rule of thumb that a for every credit you take, you spend about 3 hours doing work outside of class. Here we go.

Supervised Ministry/Other Jobs - 30 hours max
Time in-class - 12 hours-ish
Work outside of class - 36 hours
Time sleeping (8 hours per night) - 56
Sabbath - 16 hours

This leaves 18 out of 168 hours in a week in which to eat, shower, run errands, have personal devotional time, plan a wedding, and attempt to stay sane. There is little for meaningful relationships of any kind (and I don't think Ben would take kindly to that one) and that more than anything really hurts me, since I wanted this year to be more about forming relationships with people. Sure, I have friends that I hang out with from time to time, but it's rare. And I feel so isolated here in my apartment that aside from my roommates, the only person I see consistently is Ben. I love Ben, but I enjoy spending time with more people too.

There is also no time for me to take a step back and cultivate other areas of my life (such as my more creative side). I'm not a brilliant photographer by any means, but I enjoy going outside and taking pictures of nature or other things that strike my interest. I like cross-stitching. I want to finish the banner I started for a class over January.

I also need time for exercise. No excuse here. If I want to lose weight, I just have to do it. Period.

I've also been overwhelmed lately by other issues in my life (the car is finally fixed, by the way, which eliminates one area of stress) that I'm seriously an emotional wreck. Ask Ben. I'll be reading one moment and the next I'll be crying. Mucho repressed anger has been seeping its way out of my body (thank you to Douglas VW who I deem the catalyst of such a reaction) and while most of the time I'm Ok, there are moments I want to kill the next living thing that moves near me. (I never thought I might need anger management...I'm really not an angry person, I swear!)

I'm sick of living in the space which I have been kept hostage (largely by my own psyche, but my psyche has very good reasons for keeping me in my bedroom, and for the most part, I agree with them). I need some separation in my life (not eating in my bedroom would be a good start to that...and probably so would getting the television out of my bedroom), but I can't because there's no way to do it. I work, eat, sleep - live in this one little bedroom. How did I ever pull it off in college? Please, someone, let me know, because it's not working for me now!

Anyhow, I planned on sharing some pearls of wisdom that I gathered in my Pastoral Care and Counseling class, as well as some severe criticisms of the way They want us to do theological reflection. I also wanted to reflect more on why self-care in general is a good thing, but I'm done for now. Perhaps I'll ruminate more in a later post.



Elizabeth said...

Hope I don't bore you with comments that start "when I was at drew..." BUT...
When I was at Drew, I dropped down to 3 classes/semester for my whole third year (thanks to CPE.) It was the best thing I ever did, schedule-wise. I had a lot of free time, and I really enjoyed getting the most out of spending time with friends.
Re: Living in one room. I tried to create little areas in my room, sort of section thing off. It helped it seem like it was a mini-apt. and not a room.

Anonymous said...

You are really on to something now! In only a few other occupations are people required to devote all their time to (their jobs). Your mother in law (to be) would tell you you can hardly feed others when you aren't being fed. Spirituality is only one portion of our lives. Working out, reading (for pleasure) and nuturing relationships are crucial to a well rounded life. Your recent vehicle debaucle will pass and Ben was once a waiter sooo.. he should be good at waiting while you develop other relatioships. Someday you'll look back and laugh. We are after all, human. Your mental state being overwhelmed and becoming deppressed stinks. Only you can decide what your breaking point is. Oh by the way when it comes to work when I was young I used to work extra all the time. I'm no richer for it today.

Expect a miracle
Rob C.