Here I am, eyes-deep in end-of-semester papers and tests. There are at least three big papers to be finished in the next week and a half. I have stacks of books to read to research them, and a host of other commitments to uphold. Instead, I find myself obsessing about Christmas coming, looking at the few decorations in places I frequent and wondering when I might have time to put a few things around our little cottage to get me into the spirit. Then I wonder about how I will ever possibly complete gifts and cards for people, the things that make my heart happy to give at this time of year. I also wonder how I will make it without cookies, cakes, pies, and hot cocoa to fuel long nights of panic-stricken agony trying to fulfil all of the fantasies about Christmas and the whole holiday season that swirl around in my head.
So I am taking this day, my only real obligation to lead evening prayer in the chapel tonight, for myself. To really stop and look at what I am doing to take care of myself so that my papers are the best that they can be, my gifts really are gifts of the heart, and I am at peace with the celebratory season at hand. Sounds kind of funny, doesn't it? A seminarian who, in her haste, often finds she resents Christmas. Why did Jesus have to go and be born at this rather inconvenient time of year? Well, actually, He didn't. The feast was moved to coincide with earlier pagan celebrations of the rebirth of the light at the Solstice. I can't really blame Him for this rush - preparing for a major feast in the midst of finals.
But what do I do about the feeling that I am more like the grandma-with-reindeer-tracks-on-her-back than the young woman of faith preparing to celebrate the birth and anticipate the return of the Light of the World? It certainly isn't sitting here staring at the piles of books on my desk with the vague sense of guilt about not working on that paper when I barely have the motivation to get up and open the blinds.
I am doing just a few small things to remind myself that I have to take care of me, even if it seems unrelated to getting an A on that paper or doing my best on that Greek vocab quiz coming up. Because really, it has everything to do with those grades. If I am not at my best physically, mentally, and spiritually, then I don't have anything left to put into my work. Everything is being hoarded so that I can just function. So today is about remembering to take care of me.
* Enjoy a cup of my favorite tea, even though it involves more than just dumping a bag into a mug of hot water.
* Light my favorite scented candle, and enjoy the warmth it sends through the air.
* Take a few minutes at a time to sort through some of the clutter that has accumulated around my desk and is distracting me.
* Spend a while preparing nourishing foods that are easily packed for the crazy schedule coming up later this week. A little while now will prevent me from making excuses later about why I don't need to bother to eat. (Note to self: you really do need to eat. Really.)
* Picking up my favorite pen and writing in my journal.
* Making a list of Christmas gifts that are already made/purchased, and making a second list of things I still need to finish/want to pick up.
* Giving myself permission to rest; nap if I need to, or just sit with my hands wrapped around my tea in one of my favorite cups, staring out the window and dreaming.
Even with this list, I find that I am struggling to remember that a little bit of self-care will make a huge difference in the work I do and the things I can accomplish.
Update... better late than never
5 years ago