16 November, 2016

Taking time to rest

One thing that got me through an extra busy weekend was my plan to take some time off on Tuesday. My schedule was clear and I was able to choose to do something other than work.

In fact it turned out beautifully. Yesterday was an unseasonably warm day of around 20 degrees (though quite cloudy), I decided to ride to a coffee shop about six kilometres away and read a book for a couple of hours. Reading fiction has been my go-to relaxation tool for almost my whole life. I'd been craving a decent "coffee shop coffee" for a while and not been able to get any satisfaction, so this was perfect in many ways. Oh, the exercise was great too.

It was a new area for me to ride to (I've been there on a train and in a car and bus, but a bike is different). It is another city centre, only six k's from here, and with two train stations in-between! My Australian mind boggles. Tall buildings, underpasses, and over passes, it really did feel as though I'd gone a lot further.

It took me a while to find a park for my bike because the streets around the shop I was heading for were plastered with these No Bike Parking signs. Eventually I found a grocery store with individual paid bike stands (you pay a machine after you've been there more than an hour).

I rode home via our usual grocery store to do the shopping I usually would do on Monday and got home in time for lunch, quite refreshed. I'm sure the coffee helped my energy levels, but I did feel more calm and ready to get into work than I had earlier in the day.
Get the idea? I've just discovered our city has also
designated a smoke-free area around the city centre.

I'm not a superhuman
I'm writing this post, not to make you envious of my flexible schedule, but because I want you to know that I am not a superhuman. I get exhausted. What I did from Friday to Monday wasn't normal for me and wasn't healthy either, it didn't give me any margin to take care of myself or my family. 

Entrance to the Kitano Shrine.
I get discouraged when I hear missionaries or pastors talk about how much they work and how little time off they get. I can't figure whether they're asking for our prayers or looking for sympathy or even subconsciously boasting. I just want them to stop before they get stopped by ill health.

But I'm also aware that each of us has different energy levels as well as different coping methods. On the flip-side, we've all got hidden stresses or energy drainers that others don't see.

I have a fairly high energy level and tend to invest myself in things passionately. But I wear out quickly because I tend to sprint and not pace myself. My husband can keep going longer than me most times because he doesn't invest as much energy into everything he does, he just rocks along at a steady pace.

I've also found that a person's backstory can significantly effect how much they appear to be doing.

For example from my own life:

I have three big boys, big active boys who exhaust me. Though I tend not to mention my mothering as a prominent use of my time currently because they're so much more independent than they used to be and aren't in my care for the majority of the weekday (at the minimum they're gone from 8.20 to 3.30, but our oldest is often not home until after 6.30 during wresting season). That doesn't mean that I don't have a significant role to play that takes time and energy. My time from the time they come home is not completely my own and these days that is right up to bedtime. David and I usually carve out about 40 minutes to chill with a video, but other than that we're fair game for all sorts of "parenting" things from the obvious preparation of dinner, signing homework, answering questions, and breaking up fight to the less obvious of making them shower, correcting their tone of voice, making scheduling decisions for the future etc.

So someone could look at me and think that I actually have a lot of time on my hands, with my boys getting so big and relatively independent, but actually that's not as true as you might think. They can be very emotionally draining. So even though I'm "at home" that doesn't mean that I'm relaxing. Quite different to a childless couple or a couple whose children have already left home. Though I'm aware that these life situations have their own challenges.

But now I rant and rave. You know what I mean. I struggle not to compare myself with others, I struggle when others appear to be achieving more than me. But I really shouldn't. And I really don't want you to compare yourself to me either. I don't want you to look at what I did on the weekend and think I'm any better than you just because I was busy.

We are all "fearfully and wonderfully made; [God's] works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:14, NIV).

So take care of yourself. You're precious and not to be dealt with harshly, as in with an overly busy schedule.

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