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Author Topic: Giving Classes about wicca and personal rythm  (Read 2060 times)
Laramath
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« Topic Start: April 11, 2011, 11:58:38 am »

Hi All! Since the last Samhain I've been managing a "circle of study" about wicca, on january we all decided to walk together the year and a day path so that, those interested would be prepared if they want to commit to the religion (of course I don't charge for the classes, they are completely free and we are a formed group of 13 people -coincidentally-).  The thing is that we started off 13, and the group has eroded to 5-6 people, who is not a problem for me, but it has affected some of the people in the group, sometimes most of them don't attend the circle and I have to continue walking with those who are truly commited... but it's been a little dissapointing for some of the people in the group.

The other issue is that i've been teaching these classes, counseling others by messenger, and answering a lot in yahoo answers about wicca (suddenly everybody wants to know about it it's crazy!)....and I feel like drained, like all sucked up by everyone, like a wet nurse with no milk left, even for myself. I feel like I need to settle down a little bit, gain forces again and then continue, but I can't interrupt the circle that's not fair for them, nor our path, nor me.

Should I hit the brake a little and gain forces again for myself? should I interrupt everything but the circle or I should take some vacations from everyone for my own sake? Isn't that a bit selfish?

Thanks a lot.
Laramath
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« Reply #1: April 11, 2011, 12:44:14 pm »

Should I hit the brake a little and gain forces again for myself? should I interrupt everything but the circle or I should take some vacations from everyone for my own sake? Isn't that a bit selfish?

If you've drained yourself dry, you're no good to ANYONE - your circle, yourself, your gods.

We don't put a high enough value on self-preservation in areas outside of direct life-and-limb issues.  Protecting our sanity, our space, our minds is not some kind of evil selfishness.  Yes, it's self-directed - BUT! - we are as loved by the gods/part of the Divine/whatever your worldview as everyone else.

The airlines always say to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs.  You're gasping for oxygen.  Who are you being fair to if you end up completely burning out?

At a minimum, cut back on what you're doing.  You're always counselling - are you helping people that NEED help, or people that want someone else to fix things?  You're telling everyone about Wicca in chat - do you need to do that?  Can you leave the IMs off sometimes?

What is necessary, and what isn't?  If you do not protect and care for yourself, no one will.  AND - you will be telling the people you're training that self-care is a selfish luxury, as well, and that one should give up EVERYTHING to the group to the point of falling apart.  Not a good message, either.
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« Reply #2: April 11, 2011, 04:22:31 pm »

Should I hit the brake a little and gain forces again for myself? should I interrupt everything but the circle or I should take some vacations from everyone for my own sake? Isn't that a bit selfish?

What Shad said, mostly.

This is what I refer to as 'sustainable priestessing', and without it, you a) do a lot of damage to yourself b) can't help anyone (because you've got to deal with that damage) and c) dropping people in mid-exploration can do some additional damage to (or at least frustrate) them, so is not particularly great for *them* either.

One of my basic principles is that I try never to do stuff for just one reason. When I'm around on this forum, I want to share stuff that matters to me - but I hang out here a lot because I also learn things about how to answer questions better, different ways of looking at a topic, and I get to do it with people who are largely sincere about learning. This isn't true in many other forums - a lot of places, you either get very similar questions over and over again, or you get people who aren't interested in hearing things that challenge them (so the conversation get very similar over time.)

Likewise, I care about creating community Pagan events, but I also use my time there to help me stretch some skills that I use in my professional life (but don't get to do as often: managing a larger project or group of people, for example.) And it turns out I continue to learn topic-centered stuff at the same time.

Figuring out what time there is:
There's a bunch of ways to look at 'how much of this should I do'. Energy and focus matter, but the one thing we all have is a specific finite amount of time, so I've found that going at it from that directon is really helpful to me.

What I look at goes something like this. It involves drafting stuff on a calendar. I do mine on iCal (or Google Calendar) so I can move things around and color code to my heart's content, but you can do it on paper, or a simple spreadsheet, too. I  got the idea from a book by Neil Fiore, called _The Now Habit_.

Begin by blocking out the stuff that truly needs to happen.
Do you work? Your work + commute time go on there. How much sleep do you need to stay happy and healthy? Put that on there. (and include any necessary pre-sleep stuff - I need to read for a bit before I fall asleep, for example.)

How much time does it take for you to cook and eat a meal that's good for you and sustaining? How much time to have a shower or bath? How much time to get a reasonable amount of exercise? How much time do errands take you? (Grocery shopping, whatever else?) How much time does it take you to clean your house?

Pick a fairly typical week - one in which there are no crises, you don't have lots of special events, etc. But do pick a week in which things you'd normally do are happening (this is your daily life most of the time, not your vacation.)

Also include stuff you need to do for your own religious and spiritual practice. That includes rituals, daily practice, ongoing reading and learning, any classes you're taking (and the time needed to work on learning more, etc.) But don't include time that's primarily spent to help others (preparing to teach a class/lead a discussion/answer questions/etc.)

Take a look at the amount of time left.
I start by taking at least 25% of that time, and treating it as if it cannot be scheduled or planned for. (More if, as over the last 18 months, health stuff has been a big deal for me.) This gives you flexibility if something comes up, you have a week where you feel lousy and need to catch up later, etc. (If you don't, I'll come back to this time in a minute.)

Likewise, block out time for family and friends - you don't need to block out time for each person individually (maybe you see one friend this week, and would make a date to see another friend next week), but you can probably block out things like "Spouse and I typically have a night where we spend our evening together every week" or "I'm happier if I have some time to go spend with friends each week: about 3 hours is usually enough." That kind of thing. If it's more irregular, take your best guess, and round upwards by an hour or two. (Again, for flexibility.)

I then block out time for rest and relaxation. This is stuff where I don't need to be in charge of anything, run anything, etc. but that  It might be time to sit in front of a movie, time working on an art project, time for focused writing. I usually aim at this and the family and friends time being at least another 25% of the total, possibly more depending on details. (But bearing in mind that some things might overlap: some people spend talking time with a friend or loved one *and* knit, for example. Or you go for a walk with a friend, so you have both social time *and* exercise)

What's left is the time that you can reasonably plan for other projects. For most people I know, this turns out to be one or two scheduled nights a week, and usually one substantial commitment on a weekend day. (three or four nights, or stuff both weekend days might be doable, but depend a lot on life circumstances. I'm single and live alone, so my limit on how many evening events I schedule is based on my energy. Someone with kids or partner has different limits, because they'll want and need to do stuff with and for their kids, or with and for their partner.)

What fits into that time for you?
From what you've said, it sounds like that might be the circle - but not necessarily other things.

Think about what you'd most like to do. Look at each option. How much time does it take to prepare for? How much time does it take after you finish? For example, it may take you two hours to prepare for a circle discussion, and an hour to clean up afterwards, as well as the actual time together. Try that in your sample calendar, and see how it fits (and how that feels to you).

Don't forget to think about the energetic drain of open expectations. For example, when you're in contact with people by IM, you don't know if it's going to be a relatively simple easy chat, or whether something might come up that keeps your mind whirring for hours after you get offline. (Same deal with online conversations of all kinds, actually.)

So, how much of that can you do without hitting other stuff you need to do to take care of yourself and get enough sleep, and have time and focus for other things that matter to you? Do you need time to wind down afterwards? How much? How much does it take out of you the next day? You may find that you need to cut down how you do certain things - or may find that you can do them, but you need to plan in more rest and recovery time without specific expectations.

Picking things that have something in them for me:
One of the biggest things I've found to be critical for me is picking and choosing what I do so that I'm doing stuff that helps others (which matters to me, both professionally and personally) but doing those things is also renewing and refreshing for me, at least a fair amount of the time.

I *adore* teaching, and I'm someone who is comfortable teaching with a relatively short planning time and recovery time, so when other circumstances allow, I'm inclined to do a lot of it. (Right now, I'm limited, because my current job search means I might be moving, so taking on new students is not a good idea. So I'm throwing that into writing and sharing resources online.)

It's also important to me to help create events that allow people to connect, recharge, and interact in new ways, so I found a local Pagan community group that has done that, and have been on the board since late 2006. We just had our first spring hotel-based conference, and it was fantastic. What I'm even more proud of, though, is that while folks on the committee obviously had to work through the weekend to make sure everything ran smoothly, we all had a chance to have a good time, too, and we came away from it with some new ideas and insights and things to think about.

But that works for me in large part because I like the people who are on the board, we agree a lot about a low-drama, low-politics approach, and because the events themselves make me think in new ways because they're programming and conversation focused.  If those things weren't true, it might be a lot more draining.

In contrast, while I like ritual geeking, I find that putting on public rituals is *not* reliably recharging for me: it's a lot of work for something that doesn't leave me with new things to mull over. I like going to them sometimes, and I'll help with them occasionally, but mostly I don't make them a priority. (Small group rituals, in contrast *are* recharging for me, and I am currently prone to be cranky because I'm not getting enough group ritual work.)

Helping friends out is somewhere in the middle. Some stuff is recharging for me (including getting to spend time with them!) but some stuff is hard, too. So, I keep an eye on balance. Helping out *strangers* other than in specific ways, tends to be a lot more draining, so I limit how I do it to either times I (as opposed to the next person with relevant knowledge wanders by) can make a real difference or to formats that aren't as draining.

For example, I hang out a lot here, because I can help people with stuff I know *but* I'm still continuing to learn in ways that matter to me. People here, on average, ask questions that make me think, and even if someone is asking a question I've seen dozens of times before, there's a reasonably good chance that *how* they ask it (or something someone else shares) will make me think about it in a new way, come up with a new way to explain something, or otherwise give me something shiny and interesting to play with. That's recharging for me.

This is less true on some other forums I read (so I chime in there when I have time and energy, but don't check there until I've checked in here and a couple of other higher-priority-to-me places). And it's way more true of things like Yahoo Answers, which have some very sincere seekers, but a whole lot of questions that I find really frustrating to deal with (either because they don't actually want sincere answers, or because they want very simple answers, or because I have to dig through a whole bunch of netspeak and assumptions to figure out their question.) It's really not a good fit for my usual online conversation style, too. So, if I were inclined to do that, it would end up way down on my list - and I probably wouldn't get to it very often.

What this works out to:
As I said, life currently in limbo due to the job hunt in a lot of ways, but a reasonably comfortable breakdown for me looks something like this:

- A job where I get to help people find information that matters to them. (Librarian, by profession). Full time, which means 40+ hours a week, whatever relevant commuting time, and about 5-10 hours of reading time each week reading things that I'm interested in, but would probably spend less time on if I didn't have that job. (Professional blogs and other reading, books that are outside my own preferred genres so I can suggest/buy/use them more effectively, etc.)

- Adequate sleep (8 hours a night), time to relax before bed (an hour or so, including my bath), meals that are good for me (call it 2 hours total time a day), some exercise.

- Time with friends - usually, for me, that averages out to 1-2 social-focused things a week when I'm healthy (that doesn't count other stuff on this list that I do with people I like, or that includes some social time.)

- Coven (1-2 discussion nights a month, 1-2 rituals per month, perhaps a social outing to a movie, art exhibit, etc.) plus preparation time for same (which adds an hour or two per event, depending, more for teaching.)

- One larger community project (for me, this has been event running with Twin Cities Pagan Pride, which is mostly a meeting once a month, and stuff to work on on my own between meetings/discussed on our email list.) I like the minimal meeting time commitment a lot.

- Some ongoing projects: writing, music, Tarot, a few other things. These, I pick what I do based on how I feel that week/what's important, how it links into other things on the calendar (or approaching), but I am much happier if I spend *some* hours each week moving forward on something somewhere.

- Filling in around the edges. This is mostly online time for me. I have some places (Dreamwidth, LiveJournal, email, here) that are priorities, and then after that, check in with places as I have the time/energy/interest. Sometimes that's daily, sometimes that's every few days. (I do check back more frequently if I've recently posted there, for example.) I've got probably 10-15 forums on various topics where that's true, ranging from 'check in most days' to 'this is the stuff I read if I'm tired and out of focus, but don't really want to do anything else.' Ditto reading my RSS feeds, other than the professional ones.

And last but not least: have a group of peers doing reasonably similar stuff, or who have done it in the past, who can give me advice, support, and ideas. I think this is extra critical for anyone running a religious or spiritual group, but it's good for anyone working on a substantial project (writing, creative work, raising kids, etc.) This is why coven training can be so helpful when it's done sensibly, because you get a chance to learn how to balance stuff before being fully responsible for it (and have peers and elders you can turn to for advice).

If you want to do something, but the balance feels off:
This is a tricky one, because it depends so much on the situation - but sometimes, the reason something feels overwhelming or draining to us isn't because *doing* the thing is the problem - but rather that we're doing it in a way that doesn't work well for us.

If there's something that matters a lot to you, but that is also feeling draining, it can be good to poke at that for a while, get some advice, etc. For example, I spent a large chunk of time last fall working on my Seeking pages (http://gleewood.org/seeking - currently 138 pages and counting!). This was partly because I was working on retraining my brain to think and write the way I wanted after serious health issues, but I picked the topics I did because they're things I know I can use later, when I start teaching again. They're *also* things I can now use or point people to when some common topics come up. (Or I find what I've already written, snag the relevant bits, and edit to be appropriate for their question.)

The combination helps me help a larger number of people than I could if I were writing answers entirely from scratch each time while also doing things that help some of my long-term goals (like coven teaching in the future). That makes it an extra good place to put my time and energy.
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« Reply #3: April 11, 2011, 04:39:28 pm »

The thing is that we started off 13, and the group has eroded to 5-6 people, who is not a problem for me, but it has affected some of the people in the group, sometimes most of them don't attend the circle and I have to continue walking with those who are truly commited... but it's been a little dissapointing for some of the people in the group.

Hit 'post' on my previous, and then realised something really basic...

First, the kind of drop-off you describe is totally normal. Pretty much every long-term teacher I've ever talked to sees something like that, if they don't do *very* thorough filtering before the point at which they start classes. (In which case, they have a much higher rate of people wandering off before they become a student.)

Learning more about a religion is a good thing. But it is, for most people, not a life or death situation that they learn it with *you* right now, or that they learn it right now in the first place. A number of groups and teachers have found over the years that one way to help with balance is to do some combination of the following:

- Have a delay period (a week or three) between someone expressing interest, and the next step (starting classes, an informational interview, etc.) The people who are really serious about it will follow through. The people who are experimenting with the idea or not really interested in following through will drift off. This is a good thing, not a bad one.

- Have some sort of initial sorting exercise. I ask people to complete a letter of introduction that's designed to take about an hour to respond to. (and I give them a *ton* of information about me to read - my blog, links to other stuff, etc. so the letter is also partly a chance to balance my knowing nothing about them with them having access to lots of info about me. You can see that here: http://gleewood.org/phoenixsong/letter-of-introduction - it's designed to encourage people to be chatty, but I'm also looking to see some really basic stuff - do they follow directions, do they say "Hey, I'd rather not share X right now." if that's important to them, do they actually answer all of the questions?)

Other teachers I know assign some sort of general task that'll be helpful whatever path they continue with, but which also serves as a screening tasks. Examples I've seen include writing a review/commentary on a book (either an assigned one, or have them pick - and what they pick can be really informative), creating a project related to the local area (where the local water comes from, local plants and animals, etc.), or working through some introductory material on their own, and writing up/being prepared to talk about their responses to that.

- Have some sort of short class series, before continuing into a longer series. (This is what the group I trained with did.) In that case, a 5 class intro series was offered to anyone who wanted to show up at a public location, and covered enough that people who were just curious, or who wanted to know a little more about what a friend/family member was doing could get an idea. People who finished all five of those classes (and some assignments) could ask to be considered for further training. Out of every 20 people who expressed interested in the intro classes, maybe 1 made it as far as asking to train further - that's pretty normal.

- Offering some general public information that people can use at their own timeline (some suggested reading and why, background information, general definitions, etc.) so that if someone doesn't want to do the other things, you can still say "Well, more information over here, and if you are interested, just do [whatever]." It still feels helpful - and is helpful - without taking a lot of the group time and energy.
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Laramath
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« Reply #4: April 12, 2011, 12:51:37 pm »

Gods! THANK YOU -talking about time- of all the time you just spent on my issue. I realize that the problem here is organization... even though I really manage to be organiced my brain betrays me. I have this "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" and like one doctor told me years ago ┐how do you expect for your life to be plain and rythmic if your brain works in unconstant waves? (or something like that difficult to translate).... right now I realize that it took me like one hour and a half to read this (instead of 20 minutes) because I was jumping from one thing to another and I got the whole point.

A day in my life goes a bit like this: 7:00 am, get up, feed molly (my three-month-bite-all scottish terrier puppy), play a bit with her (10 mins or so), go shower, get dressed, play with molly, clean a bit the house (I live alone too) etc, grab a fruit, a granola bar and a drinkable yougurt and leave the house at 8:20 or so... 9 am arrive to work.... 1:30pm go to lunch at my mother's restaurant, 3pm back at work til 6pm.... 6:30 arrive home (or 7 pm depending of the amount of work I have).... Then I think, "I have 3.5 hours to do as I please, including dinner if i'm hungry to sleep at 10 and then have enough sleep for tomorrow's plans)".... BUT the thing is I start playing with molly, I take her out to the garden, I turn on the computer and it's like pushing the FFW>> button... time flies while I chat, do nothing and other bits and pieces of other nothing and BAM it's midnight and I NEED to go to bed..... I feel like I did nothing with my time, I lost it all "relaxing" on the computer, mostly facebook, messenger and Yahoo answers...

While I would want to wake up and take molly to a walk on the forrest (we live in one), then go to work, etc, and then when I come home I could write on my BoS (all that I teach each saturday on my circle I do it from memory and I HAVE to put it down on paper!), draw, listen to music, or read one of the 12345345 novels that I've left half read.... but I never do! I never excercise and having dinner with my friends means I'm late with molly for her dinner and no play for her that day.... (which is no good for a dog).

I think I need to sit down as you said and re-structure my day. I spend way too much time in yahoo answers, not only at my free time but at work too! (and I shouldn't)... and you are very right about all the simple-minded questions that get into my nerves and a whole bunch of other problems that derived from there.

In conclusion, you've set me in the right direction and I thank you very much for this. I will make an effort to make more of my time and not just to watch it passing by.

Shadow: you are truly right, I didn't realize that my own stagnation was that thing that was making some of the people in the circle feel stagnated too.

Thankyou!!
Blessings.
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« Reply #5: April 12, 2011, 03:58:14 pm »

Gods! THANK YOU -talking about time- of all the time you just spent on my issue. I realize that the problem here is organization... even though I really manage to be organiced my brain betrays me. I have this "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" and like one doctor told me years ago ┐how do you expect for your life to be plain and rythmic if your brain works in unconstant waves?

Oh, yes. (I normally have really good executive function skills, but health issues basically removed them for the better part of a year: they're coming back now to where they used to be, but I've had to figure out a whole lot of coping skills.)

Some other stuff that might help you:

- There's a bunch of productivity ideas out there on the web. I'm most fond of Getting Thing Done as a basis (it focuses on what we can do in the context we're currently in, rather than being time or priority based. The book of that name is by David Allen, and there are a ton of resources online.

- Online time is so easy to have get away from us, isn't it? Fortunately, these days, there are some really cool tools to help manage it.

For example, there's a plug-in for Firefox (and I believe other browsers) called LeechBlock that helps you set limits on how much time you spend on a given site or given group of sites. (Or online in general). When you hit the limit, it will lock you out, remind you - whatever you set. I also use a program on my own computer called Concentrate, that does the same thing with a little broader range (for example, I can set it so I can't open Firefox or my mail program while I'm focusing on writing.)  There are other options out there too - those are just the ones I use.

- There's nothing wrong with spending time online - but like you, I hate that feeling of having gotten nothing done with my evening.

So, I try to figure out what things I need to do that day or week that will make me feel like I'm productive (and make progress on the stuff I care about). I plan a bunch of down-time in there: I can be online while a long-cooking meal is cooking, or for an hour (while spending an hour or two on other projects), and then I try to go do other things. (And then, if I *still* feel like I'm not getting enough done, at least I have a list of the stuff I've done to convince myself otherwise.)
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« Reply #6: April 13, 2011, 04:58:05 am »


- Online time is so easy to have get away from us, isn't it? Fortunately, these days, there are some really cool tools to help manage it.

For example, there's a plug-in for Firefox (and I believe other browsers) called LeechBlock that helps you set limits on how much time you spend on a given site or given group of sites. (Or online in general). When you hit the limit, it will lock you out, remind you - whatever you set. I also use a program on my own computer called Concentrate, that does the same thing with a little broader range (for example, I can set it so I can't open Firefox or my mail program while I'm focusing on writing.)  There are other options out there too - those are just the ones I use.


I just installed Leechblock, and am hoping it will help me! Thankyou, Jenett, for always being such a treasure trove of good advice. Smiley
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« Reply #7: April 14, 2011, 01:42:52 pm »


- Online time is so easy to have get away from us, isn't it? Fortunately, these days, there are some really cool tools to help manage it.


I have a little problem, I like to do things the hard way so they stay in me, for example, yesterday I had this impulse to want to turn on the computer when I got home, but instead of that I went to the closet, changed boots for tennis shoes and put Molly a leash and went to the forest. Just like that, without even taking two minutes to procrastinate, I've found that works for me, but it's very easy to trick myself that way. I went to the forest, excercized, spent quality time with molly (she was totally thrilled) AND got some materials for a spell I'm working on Smiley... that's my ideal, but I don't think I could do it every day. I'll try today to excercise with molly in the garden and then start with all the work I've put for later like 4 years ago with my book of shadows.

I've summoned the whole circle for this saturday to talk everything out and re-stablish the conection between us all. I feel that If I continue to excercice myself emotionally, mentally and spiritually everything will take it's balance and continue growing. Thank you very much for all the insight and advise.
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