Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making Time for Me

One session of our CPT training, a session we had before we dug into the topic of undoing oppression, was about self-care.  Since that session, we've had several "self-care pit-stops" built into our schedule. We, the trainees, are responsible for running the pit-stops by sharing or teaching an activity. Thus far, we've gone on a nature walk in a nearby park, played a game together, and practiced yoga nidra.  Our next pit-stop we'll focus on artistic creativity.

Though I know self-care is important, I'm not always good at creating time for it.  Sometimes, I say that I simply don't have time.  When that happens, I often end up distracting myself from work anyway, thus losing both productivity and a chance to do something that will give me the energy to continue.  Those times help me remember that I do have the time; I simply need allow myself to take it and use it well.  CPT training is helping me to see just how rejuvenating even a half hour away from work can be.

Yesterday was our last full free day before training ends.  We have 9 more days of training to go.  We've had 2 other days off.  On those days, I stayed in the house most of the day, simply relaxing and recovering from the previous exhausting days.  In the evenings I went out to dinner with other trainees.

Yesterday I knew I needed to get out of the house.  My introverted self also knew that I needed to do it by myself.  The other trainees are phenomenal people, but it's hard to be around even phenomenal people for 3 weeks, 24/7.  I decided to take the train into the city and see where my feet took me from there.

My train ride put me in the Loop, right in the heart of downtown Chicago. I walked down Michigan Avenue past the Art Institute.  Most of my body wanted to be on the move, because we sit a lot during training; in addition, my brain has been doing some serious exercise.  It wanted as few new stimuli, even beautiful stimuli like art, as possible.  Considering the totality of my body's needs, I decided not to go in.

I headed to Clark Street.  Once on the street, I walked and walked, trying to do so more slowly than my usual pace, until I found myself at the Lincoln Park Zoo, a couple of miles north of the Loop.

The foot I broke a few months ago was starting to hurt by that point.  When I decided to enter the zoo to animal watch, my foot was grateful.  The rest of my body was ready to stop moving, too.

I lingered longest near the gorillas and a tiger.  I was mesmerized by the interaction of mama gorillas and their clinging babies, by an older male drinking juice the zookeeper gave him through a fence, by younger males balancing on exercise balls and making nests from straw. And then at the cat house, I watched a tiger gnawing on a bone right next to the glass that separated us.  It was equally mesmerizing.  I thought of my cats and was pretty sure they imagined themselves as regal as the tiger appeared.

My body appreciated the leisurely pace I took through the zoo, the pauses to observe and read, the warmth of the various animal houses.  My spirit appreciated answering only to the needs of my body, and not to those of other bodies around me.

The afternoon, as well as the pit-stops done as a group, remind me that self-care doesn't require spending money.  It can be as simple as a walk or a game.  It doesn't require much time. Even 15 minutes or a half hour can revive the spirit.  We need to practice self-care to function effectively, but too often, we don't  make the time, we forget how simple an activity it can be, we opt for something that, while different from work, is not revitalizing.

After my zoo visit, I walked back to the Loop.  I met some other trainees for pizza. My afternoon alone readied me to be with them again.

And so today, we begin our last 9 days together before we go our separate ways.  I pray that in the midst of these last intense days and the work we'll do later with CPT, we'll find the balance between together time and alone time, working and self-care, and that we'll find peace within the stresses we face.  I pray the same for you.

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