Saturday, October 30, 2010
I just got back from a mini-shift at the hospital (two hours instead of four). As I suspected, it was just what I needed: the work grounds me, makes me feel connected to the divine and to other people, and, generally, reminds me what's important.
Several of you implored me to stay home this weekend because I wasn't feeling well. First of all, the back's improving, and the PT guy didn't put me on any restrictions. But secondly, and more important: at least for me, volunteering isn't a distraction from self-care, but a form of self-care. I don't volunteer because I'm a nice person. Sometimes I'm nice and sometimes I'm not -- people who deal with my daily in the flesh might say I'm more often not, especially when my back hurts! -- but that's not the point. I volunteer for entirely selfish reasons, because the work's good for me. The fact that it's at least sometimes good for other people too is a lovely bonus.
See Frederick Buechner: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." See also research on service as treatment for depression.
I worked two hours instead of four today because I still have eleven hours of grading to do this weekend (this is after six hours yesterday), but I've vowed to myself that if I'm away from the hospital entirely, it will be because I'm ill or out of town, not because I have mounds of papers to grade.
Not surprisingly, though, two-hour shifts are less tiring than four-hour ones. If I get my sabbatical next year (crossing all toes and fingers here, which makes typing quite the challenge), I may very well break up my four hours per week -- which is what the hospital asks of volunteers, although they're very flexible about it -- into two two-hour shifts. That will also allow me to see more patients, since the ED population often doesn't change that much in four hours. During the academic year, though, I'm pretty much stuck with a four-hour shift on Saturdays: other days are too problematic because of teaching, committee meetings, prep, church, and fiddle lessons.
Speaking of which, yesterday I had my first fiddle lesson in two weeks. Because of the back crud, I'd only been able to practice three days since my last lesson, but Charlene was very kind about my progress (or lack thereof).
Right. On to the mounds of grading.