Heating Up and Burning Out

Recently I have found myself facing a fork in the road. Down one side was social and justice advocacy work. Down the other side was myself, family, friends, nature, and well, everything else. While social and justice work will never be something I will forego, I was feeling the sting of regret when my daughters felt as they had been replaced by my work.

The absolute tenacity I felt when I began my work was at an all-time high. Speaking with incarcerated citizens and their loved ones convinced me of the injustices that are going on within our correctional facilities and of the lack of care those who struggle with mental health issues and addiction are receiving. I began to have meetings, often several in a day, with various individuals and organizations. Morning, noon, and night I prodded along searching for answers to the question we all have...How Do We Bring Change?

I suffered many failed attempts to help incarcerated individuals find attorneys and have their cases publicized through various news portals. The more defeated I felt, the harder I pushed, to no avail. I learned after time that by doing this on my own, I was actually setting myself up for failure. And not only myself, but also for those I was attempting to help. While sincere, I was not accomplishing what I desired to. And as far as caring for myself and my own needs, well...I failed there too.

Fortunately, I found a way to both have a personal life and to advocate as well. I have joined Hoosier Action, which is a non-profit in my home state of Indiana that actively promotes legislation that benefits those serving time, addicts, the indigent population, and we deal with other social and justice issues. I strongly believe in Dream Corps and have joined Dream Circles and will soon attend a training with Dream Corps Justice. While I do stay in contact with incarcerated individuals, I have removed the pressure of thinking I am their answer. Through my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Accreditation, I work with them on a different level. A soulful approach.

My personal life and my advocacy work are both important to me, but when I lost my balance, you see what happened. I soak in the tub a little more these days: I once again dig around in my flower garden; I'm spending more time with my girls. My mind is less frazzled which makes it possible be a better advocate.

Those of you who are just starting out, don't lose sight of yourself. If you do, find a way to respect both your work and yourself. Don't accept the pressure you may feel to solve the world's problem on your own; become part of a team. And when doing that, make sure you are a good fit for the team, and the team is a good fit for you. Don't give up; every person who is attempting to make a difference is needed!

Balance, and so it goes.

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