I am breathing deeply. I am breathing deeply. I am breathing deeply.
These past few weeks, and this past week in particular, I feel like my brain has turned to mush. I have been having a hard time finding the right words - and I'm not talking about the particular words that have the precise meaning and connotation that I need - I'm talking about words like "headlight," which I struggled to remember for about a minute at the counter of Advanced Auto Parts yesterday. I was literally doing the hand-blinky motion to try to communicate that I needed a new headlight for my car. It has been a pretty busy week in the office, too, and it is hard to fully focus on any one thing when there are three or thirty new things flying at me all morning. I have been feeling very ADHD lately.
I think that my mind and body are trying to tell me something. I think they are trying to communicate that they are worn out and need a break desperately, and they are going to take one whether I like it or not. It has been a very busy and very stressful month and a half for many different and varied reasons, but I've been plugging on, regardless.
One of my ADHD activities has been reading a book for review, which thankfully is a collection of short essays that allows some extra grace for this mind that is taking extra time to digest, and will only eat little pieces at a time. In the first set of essays, nearly all of them mention the need for pastors to take care of themselves - eat right, exercise, etc... It's something we all know we need to do. And sometimes we're better at doing it than other times. When I went to Big Tent (a big denominational conference/gathering) a few weeks ago, I came face to face with the fact that in the past month, as life got crazier, my self-care dropped off sharply, and was almost non-existent.
I had been doing so well for a couple of months at getting up early each morning to exercise. Then I got sick for a week, and then I got back into my late night schedule, and my body really needed those extra two hours of sleep in the morning. My physical and spiritual disciplines were falling away as quickly as the plants in the rocky soil that wither under the sun (my sermon text from last week).
In a check-in yesterday with a pastor friend/colleague/mentor, she gave me some "homework." I was to write down twelve positive practices to do every day. My first thought was twelve!?! I can hardly keep up with trying to exercise! But some of these practices are things that I already do, and I can bring more intentionality to them. Others are concrete things to get me on the way to improving where I need to improve in self-care. I'm writing them down so I can be accountable to myself, and to her, and I guess to whoever is reading this blog!
1 - Daily Lectionary Readings - part of the practice of the Company of Pastors, getting grounded in the Word
2 - Morning and Evening prayer - ditto.
3 - Get moving - at least 5 minutes a day of walking or yoga or something, but aiming for 30 most days, and for an hour or more on days when I can do that.
4 - Eat something green - most days I do this, and eat more than one green thing. But some days running from drive-thru to drive-thru... And no, the pickles on my hamburger don't count.
5 - Drink lots of water - at least two of my SIGG bottles in the morning, and another two in the afternoon/evening. As I was writing this, I stopped to run down the hall to refill my water bottle.
6 - Say at least 5 positive things to my husband
7 - Write for at least 15 minutes each day - the blog counts, but emails, twitter, sermons, and newsletter stuff don't.
8 - Breathe - at least once each day, stop and intentionally do some deep breathing.
9 - Do something musical - either put on some music to feed my soul, or make some music.
10 - Clean - Tackle at least one project, or spend at least 15 minutes tidying up the office or house.
11 - Get 8 hours of sleep - This will be tough. My body really like 9 hours, but it's a stretch to get 8, and I can work on that.
12 - Self-affirmation/self-appreciation/grace - At the end of each day, resist the urge to beat myself up over the items on this list that I didn't do, or didn't do as well as I wanted. Don't "should" on myself for other things that happened or didn't happen through the day. Instead, find some room for grace, and affirm the positive steps I did make to build on tomorrow.
In some ways, this is a simple list. In other ways, it is quite daunting. But in the time it took me to write this post, I've accomplished parts of 5 items on this list, and it feels good. Oh, and by the way, I also replaced my own headlight last night. And even remembered what it was called.