Monday, March 15, 2010

What is this "work-life balance" of which you speak?

Sometimes, you just gotta.

My lovely coblogger About A Girl recently wrote about self-care and the symptoms of getting too wrapped up in your work. I have to say, "Not going to pee" really made me say "Oh god, hell yes." Isn't that insane? Not going to pee? Jeopardizing your long-term organ health because you feel so pressed for time that you pretend you're a machine and not a person who needs to pee??

On several occasions I've gone entire workdays without getting up to have a drink of water or use the bathroom (and eating a snack from home at my desk). Iterated over the long-term, those are NOT good ideas! I did get a lot better about it over time, though -- partly because I realized the importance of self-care, and partly because I got more efficient/effective at the parts of my job that had been keeping me busybusybusy.

The interesting thing about that list is some of it is really physical and direct -- not going to pee, for example -- while others have more elaborate pathways or are more about emotional coping when faced with other people's traumas, or even about getting along in the midst of office politics. It's clear that everyone's different, and we don't all necessarily struggle with the same effects of putting too much into our work. In my case, it tends to be more of the physical stuff -- not eating right or not peeing regularly because I felt tied to my desk or the flow of clinic was just nonstop -- and much less of the mental/emotional stress. On the other hand, I can get LOTS of mental/emotional stress when an officeplace situation is bad, just like it might be at any other (non-abortiony, non-hectic, etc) job.

I'm super interested in learning more about sustainable work practices in our field. My focus has always been on giving clients what they need, and that will always be paramount to me, but I also want my colleagues to be able to stick around for many years. Non-profit and social-good work in general tends to drain people without giving back materially, with the justification that you're in it for the satisfaction of doing good anyway so you don't care about crass things like money or forty-hour work-weeks (ha!) or the flexibility to take a vacation. Acting like we're "in the trenches" is supposed to be normal. And the smaller and more marginalized the field, the more this applies (usually!). I've talked a lot about pee in this post, but of course I'm really talking about the whole shebang.

I was trying to remember the name of a woman I once saw speak (and a reader commented speaking about the same person and reminded me, so thanks, Courtney!) who should probably be part of a yearly retreat for anyone who works in crisis care or other fields where clients bring you their traumas or urgent, high-intensity needs. The speaker's name is Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and she has peered right into your soul and written down what she saw. Her book is called Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide To Caring For Self While Caring For Others.

In other news, another of our lovely readers (hi, Ali!) tipped us off to the ending of BUMP+, the weird-looking show that Revolutionary Vagina blogged about a while back. I haven't been watching -- life's busy, TV's hard to watch on a DSL connection, and this show looked weird -- but supposedly the fictional pregnancy outcomes were pretty much par for the course when it comes to abortion and "television" -- even, I guess, if the television is on the internet. Did anyone else see it? What do you think? Spoilers are more than welcome! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning that book; I'm definitely going to check it out. Another good resource that Abortioneers and other types of helpers should check out is


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