I first heard the bucket analogy some years ago in a women's meeting at my church. The theory is that those who spend their days in service--pouring water into others' buckets--must take time to refill their own so that they can continue serving. A woman with an empty bucket simply isn't capable of giving water to others, no matter how much she might want to do so.
I think that service is often its own reward, but I have experienced burnout at times when I haven't taken adequate care of myself. To prevent mental and emotional exhaustion, there are daily things I do that fill my proverbial bucket. I take walks around our beautiful neighborhood. I do yoga and read scriptures and pray and indulge in high-quality chocolate. I play with our darling new puppy and spend time with my very entertaining children. All these things renew me as a mother.
Nothing recharges me as a writer as much as reading good books. Reading entertains me, but it also educates and strengthens me. I need books like I need air.
Weekly Date Nights with my husband are a great recharger, as are my Sunday church meetings. But once in a while, I need refilling on a slightly larger scale. So a couple of times a year, I attend writers' conferences. These usually require travel away from my family--which means I have to work hard beforehand to replace myself. I often get anxious before a trip, but once I'm there, I'm glad, and all that work is worth it.
I got back this past Sunday from a terrific conference in Utah. I got to spend time with my very closest friends, including one of my sisters. I had fun book signings and productive and exciting meetings with collaborators and publishing professionals. I heard bestselling novelist Anne Perry give one of the most inspiring speeches I've ever heard. I took master classes and networked. I came away refreshed and enthused about my chosen profession, and burning to write.
And I got home to my wonderful family, excited and grateful to be reunited with them. I'm back to reality, and it feels good. Yes, I'm already planning my next getaway--a retreat in July--but that's only because these trips require a lot of forethought. For now, I'm thrilled to be in my regular bucket-filling routine.
What things do you do to refill your bucket?