The temperatures have gotten cold in the new year. Fluffy fingers of frost trim the water’s edge by the creek.
I bundle up in a nutria fur coat made in the 1940s, looking like a little black bear as I go out to feed the horses in the morning. The horses’ coats are all puffed out and their breath makes clouds of steam in the cold air. I toss them some extra flakes of hay to be sure they have enough fuel to keep warm.
When I check the trough, there is a sheet of ice over it that does not break when I whack it with a branch. I kick through the ice with the heel of my boot, and there is liquid water underneath. By the evening feeding the trough is frozen over again, and I repeat the process.
The creatures know where to go to be as warm as possible. They stay under the trees which must form a blanket holding some of the warmth from the ground.
The bees haven’t been out for a week. They are staying in their hive eating the honey stores they put away during the year. Their numbers are greatly reduced from the seasons when the pollen and nectar are plentiful.
Our whole world, it seems, is tucked in, focused on staying warm. If you were here at the Bossy Spa, I would hand you hot tea in the morning and a hot toddy in the evening. We are keeping a fire burning in the wood stove, which keeps the house toasty.
Is it cold where you are? In winter you need a little extra energy to stay warm. The horses get theirs from hay, and we get ours from burning wood. Taking care of someone who needs a lot of help can drain your energy, especially at times when you need it most.
Take note of what drains your energy and what replenishes it. Be selective about how many people you allow to drain you and how often. You are kind and good, so lots of people want a piece of you.
Consider too what adds to your energy. Maybe it is time alone, reading a fantasy novel, having hot cocoa in front of the fire, having lunch with that friend who doesn’t drain you.
Make a list of the people you spend time with most often, either in person or on the phone. Make a + sign next to each name where you usually leave the interactions with more energy than when you started. Make a – sign next to each name where your interactions typically drain your energy.
Before I did this I just said yes to as many people as possible. When I finally made this list I was shocked at how many relationships I was sustaining that were sinkholes of time and energy, where the energy rarely if ever flowed in my direction. Some of these relationships had been going on for years.
After thinking about the results, I radically altered how I was spending my time. It was hard to break the habit of taking care of so many people, but it was worth learning how to do so.
Your life doesn’t permit you to coddle every needy person you know. You yourself need some coddling and tending and nurturing because you are pouring out so much. Make a plan to let go of the worst offenders on your list. Carry out your plan.