I needed to take a plunger to my heart, it gets bunged up like an old toilet (there's a pretty image for you) and needs to have old gunk forced out and flushed away. That's how I entered into the weekend. I was tired. My heart was clogged. I knew that this week when I was doing a consultation with a pair of really caring staff and a man with a disability who did constant self injury to his self esteem. After meeting them, and meeting him, I was able to give a few ideas for what to do next along with my absolute belief that there was a real hope for his future. One of the staff, cried.
That's usually enough to set me off, but while I was moved, I felt very distant from her feelings. It was an honour to be with them, they cared so much. And it was a privilege to listen to his dreams, he'd handed them to me gently. But deep inside I just wanted them to leave so the next people could come it. It was then I knew that I had some work to do because it was just work that I was doing. I wasn't just going through the motions, but I had lost the sense of emotion that makes things really matter to me.
I remember once talking to a parent and she looked at me, lost, and said, "I just get so tired of caring that sometimes I just stop. Things that matter, don't. It's like my heart gets all stopped up." It was then that the image of the toilet and the plunger first came into my head. And it worked for me. I asked her what she did when things got like that. I knew that she had precious little relief, a single mother, a severely disabled child, a nasty school board, it was a tough go for her. She said, "I take breaks," and pointed to her temple "up here."
That's advice that I have followed ever since. Taking breaks of time when 'up here' is still busy with work, with worry, with future, with agenda, with meetings, with unwritten reports, with undone consultations, with unfinished manuscripts, just doesn't work. I knew, this weekend, that I needed the a bit of space. So, I watched the birds on the feeder. We have thousands of birds dine with us daily. They're beautiful. So, I watched hours of 'Upstairs, Downstairs' and got caught up with Rose and the gang downstairs. So, I shopped for the makings of diabetic banana cream pie. So, we canned 5 jars of home made chili.
Then, at about 6 in the evening. I felt a renewed energy. Taking a plunger to my heart I pushed the gunk through and suddenly felt ready again. I knew that night that everything inside was working again. I thought of that staff, the one who cried over the need of her client. Suddenly I felt such a gratitude that there are those who are paid to care that actually do. Suddenly I felt, again, that rush of desire to be back in, to do it again.
I don't get burned out.
I get stopped up.
Thankfully everyone has a plunger.