Thursday, November 03, 2011

Buying more down time

In a conversation with a friend recently, I admitted to behavior I'm not totally proud of but seem to need badly: buying down time.

As I get closer to retirement (about 8 months away), I find myself less interested in causes and projects I would have warmed to immediately, if I were in a different place in my life. Sometimes I'm open about it: "I can't attend your start-up meeting because I'm trying not to get involved in things I can't continue to work with". Other times I'm evasive: "A pastoral situation arose that I needed to schedule during the time I would have attended your gathering". Occasionally, I feel like I'm lying (call it fibbing, to lessen my sense of guilt, maybe): "I will be off-island that day" and then I go off-island, just to be off when I said I'd be off.

I don't need to say once more that I'm tired. You've heard that often enough. I notice in myself, however, that there is good reason to back off from additional causes and projects. It does make sense not to involve myself or the congregation in causes and projects that require immediate high degrees of attention or a longterm commitment. I won't be here long enough to do what's necessary and the congregation has other big issues on its plate, with the search for a new minister to occupy them; I don't want to duck out in June leaving them with a project I committed them to.

What am I doing with my extra time? Not much. Well, I guess I'm enjoying it, enjoying the freedom extra down time provides, enjoying the lessened responsibility, anticipating the anonymity of a new town and new activities. My extrovert nature seems to be taking a back seat to my introvert nature right now. I want to be alone more, want fewer expectations from others (the jam is a good example----I have become much less regular in my attendance and often leave before it's over), am uneasy when someone in the grocery store introduces me as "our minister" and the other person says, "oh, Kit, I've heard good things about you".

The major thing that I won't slack off on is my responsibility to the congregation. I don't want to be a lame duck minister for the next several months, don't want anyone to have reason to gripe that I'm not doing my job. The needs of the institution and the constituency are second only to my own health. And I'm deeply interested in what happens within the congregation because I have become so closely tied to it. It will be hard to cut those ties when the time comes. But for now it is my insurance policy, that my work with them is so meaningful and satisfying. May we all have the strength to loosen the ties when we must.

9 comments:

Robin Edgar said...

"I don't need to say once more that I'm tired. You've heard that often enough."

Maybe you should take a cue from the cats and live up to your Ms. Kitty pseudonym a bit more by getting more sleep. . . I am a big believer in the value of restorative sleep, including napping etc. In fact I think that getting 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per diem should be a fundamental human right.

Robin Edgar said...

"I don't need to say once more that I'm tired. You've heard that often enough."

Maybe you should take a cue from the cats and live up to your Ms. Kitty pseudonym a bit more by getting more sleep. . . I am a big believer in the value of restorative sleep, including napping etc. In fact I think that getting 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per diem should be a fundamental human right.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Robin. I do get enough sleep at night and nearly always take a nap during the day!

Robin Edgar said...

Then maybe you are not just "tired" Rev. Ketcham. Is it possible that you are a bit depressed?

Feel free to consider this comment a private message.

ms. kitty said...

Sad, maybe a bit, but not depressed. Thanks for being concerned, Robin.

Miss Kitty said...

I hear ya, Ms. K. I think it's probably normal to feel this way as you approach retirement. After all, you're getting used to the idea of a different phase of life, and that takes lots of energy to process.

Nothing wrong with following your kittehs' examples and snoozing/snuggling around the house a little more! >^..^< My cats seem very centered and peaceful since they spend 16-18 hours a day in "meditation."

ms. kitty said...

Miss K, you sweetie! You and Robin appear to be on a "get more sleep" kick for me. Maybe I ought to go back to bed right now! Thanks.

Robin Edgar said...

Well you *can* overdo sleep but it is probably considerably less harmful than being sleep deprived or otherwise lacking in rest and relaxation. 'Tis the season for hibernation anyway. . . ;-)

michiganme said...

I think I understand. For the last couple of years I've been working hard as a member of a high-profile church committee and also on a board for a non-profit in our community. Now that my tenure is over for both of those projects I have 'let-go' and allowed myself to relax more.

Omg, now I feel like I'm making up for lost time when it comes to down time. I realize so much of my energy went into keeping the momentum up and now that I don't have to, I just want to keep my obligations & commitments to a minimum and reserve my energy for the next phase of my life.