I am embarrassed to confess that it’s been over 2 months since my last blog post. Have been lounging in the summer sun and relaxing? Have I been touring the world? Sadly, no. I have simply been doing too much.
Are you one of those people who does too much, especially to help animals? Do you work a full-time job and then spend your evenings and weekends helping animals? I would never criticize or judge anyone for doing too much to help animals, particularly since my website, blog and books are all about doing more. But for many of us, we can get to a point where we do too much; it wears us out, makes us frazzled, and then everything in our life is impacted. When we are frazzled, we are not at our best to help others.
This month, I became frazzled because I was doing too much. Because I am a master energy worker, having frazzle energy is not good. And when you are frazzled, you are not in a position to manifest the good things that you truly desire.
So here’s the run down … (1) After a year of doing consulting work and working at my own leizure, I returned to full time employment on September 1st. I love the work (I help train prosecutors on animal abuse), but the change in schedule was an adjustment. (2) I started teaching energy healing classes in August through my side business called Manifested Harmony and started a monthly Harmony Circle community to share healing. I love these classes and the healing that is shared. I even attended my first Expo event this past Sunday.
(3) I am continuing my work on helping domestic violence shelters welcome families with pets. This program was discontinued by my previous employer, but it is a life-saving program that I felt the need to continue. So I have been doing that work in my spare time and today I am launching the website for Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T)! I am also hosting the 2nd Annual National SAF-T Day on October 1st where there are 8 family violence shelters signed up to host a dog walk fundraiser in their community to raise awareness regarding the co-occurrence of animal abuse and family violence and to sustain their on-site pet housing program. I love this program!
(4) Then my 2nd book was published in August (with an official publisher release date of yesterday). Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets was a joy to write because it is chock full of ideas on how to help animals. Each chapter focuses on a different way to help companion animals, with chapters ending with “You Can Do More” tips. Tips range from simple (such as purchase cruelty-free cosmetics and household cleaners) to more in-depth (launch a nonprofit or seek employment in the animal protection field). So I have been working with Maryglenn McCombs, an AMAZING publicist in Nashville, who is helping me to promote the book. It is a joy to identify markets and ways to get this book in to the hands of people who loves animals but need to take that small step to get involved.
(5) Then I have fostered a darling cat named Pandora (aka Panda Cat and Pandorable) for the past 3 months. Pandora came from the island of St. Croix. She is grateful to be alive, but has been stressed with all of the changes. She stopped eating, thus necessitating her coming into foster care with me. After a few weeks, she developed an eye ulcer from the stress. The treatment required medication almost every hour, so she was day-boarded at a veterinary clinic while I worked. So I drove to and from the vet clinic twice a day for a month to help her. Then she developed an ulcer in her other eye, started treating with a specialist, had eye surgery to place a graft in her eye to save it, then 7 weeks of volunteers coming to my house every morning and evening to help me give eye meds. My schedule was not my own, yet it was important to help save her crystal blue siamese eyes. Last night, I took her back to the King Street Cats’ orphanage so that she could be seen for adoption. And although she was not happy about it, I know it is the right thing for her.
Then I sleep. Exhausting, eh? I did not realize that I was buring the candle at 100 ends until a few weeks ago when Panda Cat started to become frazzled and edgy around me. She was sensing my energy in trying to do everything. But my mission to “save the world” was negatively impacting Panda Cat, my health and my sanity. Even my acupuncturist grimaced at me last Friday and told me to brace for an aggressive treatment (ouchy!). So things that I love to do, such as blog on this website, blog on Manifested Harmony, updating those Facebook pages, and a desire to start on Twitter, have not received the attention they deserve.
So why I have detailed my life for the past summer? It was not to impress anyone or to seek sympathy (but feel free to give me a cyber hug!). It was to show how we can get caught in the cycle of taking on too much. There is always “one more” to save, there is always a pet who needs extra TLC or foster care, there is simply always more to do. And most days we feel as if we will never be done in the work to protect animals. It is exhausting. But if we are exhausted, we cannot be our best to help animals. If we are exhausted, we are suffering from compassion fatigue and burnout. SoI am here to confess that I am suffering from compassion fatigue and burnout. And for those that know me, that is a HUGE confession that does not come lightly.
So once you come out of the burnout closet, what can you do? Here are a few ideas to help take care of yourself:
- As soon as you feel jittery, frazzled and are going through your day at warp speed, not taking time to look at the sky or smell the coffee, take just 5 minutes to sit quietly and just breathe. This will ground you and slow down your energy.
- Set a deadline each evening on when you will stop working (even if it’s volunteer work). There is always more to be done, but setting a deadline so that you can meditate, exercise, do yoga, or take a bubble bath will give you more energy for the next day.
- Spend time each day doing things and being with people that are not associated with work, helping animals, or whatever keeps you busy during the day. Having a break and changing your routine will refresh your mind and energy.
- Delegate and ask for help!
For more ideas, I encourage you to get Defending the Defenseless and read Chapter 3 about Staying Strong and Resilient. We cannot help animals (or the people in our lives) if we are not in good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Remember what they say during the safety instructions on airplanes? “Place the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.” So today, I will let go of my to do list for even just a little bit; I will take the oxygen mask and refresh myself. Then I will return and be in a better place to help both animals and people. And I hope that Panda Cat will feed off of my new relaxed and refreshed energy so that she is at her best when her new family arrives to take her home.
If you have great ideas on how to combat compassion fatigue and burnout, please post a comment and share!