I’ve spent most of the last three months trying to figure out what to write about for my fourth entry to Pagan Activist. Since September I have traveled out to Colorado to visit my Mother Coven, I’ve spent time with my mother. I’ve worked long and hard at my bills-paying-job, and I’ve spent many hours putting together programming for both my podcast and the community radio station I volunteer at. Since September the United States (and recently Australia) has seen protests, mass shootings, hostage situations and police brutality. Since September the Pagan world has seen many wonderful things, and many not so wonderful things. The New Alexandrian Library has completed construction on the first dome, Raven and Stephanie Grimassi have seen the love (and indifference) offered up to them in a time of need, my old pal and brother Zaracon has seen the miracle of funding a dream for his dying sister.
I could write on any of these topics and many others. I could write about the Winter Solstice (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). I could even go about writing something predicting changes and wonders in the Pagan community for 2015. But I’m not going to do that. You can go just about anywhere in the Pagan blogosphere and read about any and all of these topics. That’s not why you come to PA.
On December 9th I got a little bit of a wake up call. Something that I hope you can learn from without experiencing something like it for yourself. I was working my bills-paying-job and tried to do something that I shouldn’t have done. Rescue two cases of bottled tea before they hit the floor. Even with properly lifting, I managed to strain my back, doing (thankfully) minor damage to the lumbar region. I’m not as young as I used to be, I guess. Not the first time I’ve done my back in, probably won’t be the last time. I ignored the pain, worked two more shifts before I gave up and went to a doctor. Several physical therapy sessions later I am back to where I was before the incident. But it has made me stop and think a little bit about things.
Activists of all sorts often try to do more than they can handle. What’s the line, “bit off more than I could chew”? Well, sometimes we all do that. I suppose you could say this is a cautionary tale. A normal week for me involves 40+ hours at the bills-paying-job (sometimes without a true full day off), several hours each planning for two radio shows and a podcast, attempting to spend time with family and friends, and (gasp) trying to have a social life. What that translates to is about 80 hours of work and effort put into my week. Even the hours spent at the job are usually enjoyable, at least satisfying. But that doesn’t leave a lot of time each week for rest and relaxation.
I recently wrote an article for an anthology on leadership. In that article I focused on the need for a leader (or an activist) to take a break before they burn out. Down time, personal time, whatever you want to call it, is very important for an activist, as well as a leader. You need to rest a little, recharge the batteries. You need to take time to take care of yourself. In no particular order, here are some ideas for self-care:
- vegging in front of the TV
- reading a book for entertainment
- family time
- girls’/boys’ night out
Whatever you think is a good way to rest and relax is right for you. I like to curl up with my furbabies and a good book, maybe a glass of wine, play some soft instrumental music and just be.
Whether you are an activist, a leader, a teacher, or just the average Pagan, taking time for yourself is important. You don’t have to be active on the front lines of a movement to need down time. You don’t have to lead a coven, grove, circle, what-have-you to need personal time. Despite evidence to the contrary, every single one of us needs “me time”, no matter our circumstances. Do what feels good, what helps you to relax, rest and recharge. No only is it healthy, it makes you feel good about yourself.
It is Winter time in the North, a time for many of us to look inside ourselves. Unless we live in more temperate climes, we have fewer outdoor activities, fewer picket lines, fewer demonstrations. There is still plenty of work for us to do as activists, but less of it done outdoors and in person. Let’s take some of that time for ourselves and recharge our batteries. Our friend in the South are at the peak of the outdoor activities that may involve them as activists. They, too, need to remember to take some time and rest themselves.
The editor of this site has asked me to start writing monthly for PA. Starting in January you will see more musings from my over-taxed mind. I hope you have enjoyed what I have written here thus far and will continue to find some kernel of worth in what I present in the months to come.