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Reflections from Kellie Kelly

I explore each month’s Soul Connections theme on my Twitter account (@kellieuukelly) using a hashtag (#) and the month’s theme (example: “#Identity”). I also would love to join your explorations of the monthly themes—simply include my Twitter handle at the beginning of your Tweet: “@kellieuukelly” or post to my Facebook wall. For those of you who aren’t interested or able to sign up for a Twitter account, I include some of my favorite tweets here in our newsletter.

This month, we explore #Balance. What does it mean to be a community of #Balance?

When I think of balance for myself, I think of self-care. I don’t believe we can have balance without self-care.

As an “out” mental illness advocate, I must be self-aware because my mental health requires more care than a neurotypical person’s. Over the 25 years I have been in recovery, I have become very attuned to what slight differences mean and what changes they require in my treatment. I see a therapist, psychiatrist, and spiritual director to process and reflect on different aspects of both my emotional health and pastoral formation. While my mental illness recovery has increased my need to tend my mental and emotional health, mental health needs to be a part of all our self-care. Mental health is essential for balance.

Since moving from my chaplain residency to my congregational internship, I have come to consider self-care an important part of my spiritual sustenance. I realized that I need to name self-care as a spiritual practice to give myself permission to see self-care as a daily necessity, not a luxury for some date in the future.

As a single mother from a working poor background, I must consciously fight the internalized messages that I have about spending all my time either parenting or working. So far, I haven’t minded this decision because both activities are so enjoyable to me. However, I’m realizing that both tasks require as much energy as they give me. Therefore, I am trying to find additional activities that primarily nourish me, like time to be alone without working and time with friends and loved ones.

I also am trying to make Erik Walker Wikstrom’s “Sacred No” my spiritual practice for this last year of my internship (“No is as Sacred as Yes” in Serving with Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice; Skinner House Books, 2010).

First though, I need to learn how to stop volunteering for things before I am even asked! My biggest problem in maintaining balance in ministry is that there is so much that I LOVE doing.

It is difficult for me to slow myself down and not try to do all-the-things, especially when they are still so exciting to me. By saying no to more activities, I am saying yes to self-care and balance—I am saying yes to myself and my life.

How do you create or find balance? Is self-care part of your equation? How can we create a community of people who honor their own needs and nurture those around them? Like our conversations on perseverance last month, we can hold each other when we need to rest.

Let us be the balance for each other.

With gratitude,

Kellie