Derek Sisterhen

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Confessions from the face of the earth

Contrary to what you may have suspected, I didn’t find the face of the earth and drop off of it back in June. I wasn’t even looking for the face of the earth; though I can bet Mt. Everest is involved – seems like a logical nose for the world to me.

I’ve been in a bit of a semi-self-imposed hiatus from all things social media. I say “semi” because I’ve still done some tweeting and Facebook updates. I’ve continued to produce a few episodes of my podcast, pastdueradio.com.

So, I guess that’s not really a hiatus. But, it feels hipper to say I was on a hiatus; like a band that sort of broke up because everyone got sick of each other, but then they all reconcile because they realize they’re better off together. And all their fans rejoice.

And then they go make their best music yet, and the world at large doesn’t recognize them for it because of the stranglehold the pop music machine has on American radio and television outlets.

But that’s an opinionated tangent.

About the not-quite-hiatus:

A lot of people will be surprised to learn that I’m an introvert. Not the people close to me; they know it’s true. But people who know me via the modes listed above (blog, podcast, classes, books, etc.) probably all think I’m some wildly outgoing extrovert taking a party everywhere I go.

Well, the kind of parties finance geeks throw, but you know what I mean.

Truth is, while I love getting up in front of a bunch of people to speak, and putting lots of stuff out there for my fans and friends to think about and mull over, my natural state is quiet and a little isolated. That’s how I recharge.

Words like “reprieve” and “rest” and “peace” and “tranquility” came to mind a lot as I navigated a busy springtime. I had my eyes fixed on the summer, when those words would become verbs throughout the day.

Ultimately, my summer didn’t allow for any of it. Actually, life in June and July was busier than the springtime. I was asked to speak as a part of a “Bad Boys of the Bible” summer series at my church (I talked about Cain, check it out).

I started working on a new book.

I was on the speaking and teaching circuit for some local companies who help their employees stay equipped on personal financial matters.

I started a major Stewardship Ministry project to understand more about the way generous people at my church live their lives.

You can guess the real verb I was experiencing: burnout.

Over the years of my professional career, I’ve grown more sensitive to burnout. I’ve built a lot of boundaries in my life so that work stays at work and I can be completely present when I’m at home (i.e. not distracted by work). Some of those boundaries started looking like Swiss cheese in June.

When my level of care and concern begins to drop for things I’ve long been passionate about, I know I have a problem on my hands.

I stopped caring about writing a weekly post for getnakedbook.com.

I stopped caring about producing weekly episodes of pastdueradio.com – even as my listener base was growing by leaps and bounds.

Actively investing in some important friendships was fading from my list of priorities.

I hope you don’t mind my honesty. I’m well aware that these aren’t good things.

So, in response to the climbing stress and lack of recuperation, I decided to step away from what I could, while I could. This is why my Past Due Radio fans noticed a two week gap in June and July with no shows (I miss the old radio days where we could just re-run a previous show sometimes). It’s also why you, my faithful Get Naked readers, haven’t had anything fresh in over two months.

Since I couldn’t just pick up and run away to the mountains and begin living off the land and grow a beard and build a tree house that would make the Swiss Family Robinson jealous, I took a little sabbatical to recharge my batteries right at home.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Without boundaries, what you enjoy can become a burden you resent.

Time is the ultimate resource to manage because it is finite. We can manufacture all sort of things, but we can’t make any more time.

The different things I’ve busied myself with aren’t bad. Rather, they’re all very good. But even good things can become a burden when not managed. The endgame of that burden is resentment. Thankfully, I wasn’t becoming resentful of what I had going on, but I was feeling the weight.

2) Being selective is good; do what you do best.

You can’t let your guard down when it comes to saying ‘No’. Being a Yes Man is kind of like living life in quicksand. The more you agree to do, be a part of, attend, provide for, accommodate, the further you sink.

There are some people whose entire identity is wrapped up in doing. They don’t know who they are if they stop (ironically, they’ll never be able to figure it out until they do).

It’s critical to be selective and put your time and energy into doing a few things well rather than many things average. As a result, I’m not going to be doing as much speaking away from my duties as Stewardship Director at Hope. I’m also going to be mixing up my social media activity, introducing more readers to my podcast, and more listeners to my blog, so that I can free up time to focus on writing the new book.

I want to keep bringing you good stuff and not continually contemplate new existential theses on myself in order to provide it for you. That’s tiresome and probably awkward for you, my faithful reader.

3) I’m just another guy. I need as much help in my life as anyone else.

And it’s a good thing, too. I’ve been meeting with a group of guys for the last several months and they’ve challenged me to cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships with a few people.

My mom used to tell me, “If you want to have friends, you need to be a friend.” I’ve come to terms with the fact that my being an introvert and living in a culture that moves fast, it takes a lot of energy out of me to have few significant friendships. I’ve also recognized that I absolutely must expend that energy to stay grounded and sharp.

I’m not very good at doing superficial relationships. I’m ready to pour into a few people who I know will pour into me when I need it.

So, I’m back.

But I’m also a little different (some of you might think “a little different” is an understatement).

I’m excited for a new season of life and I’m grateful for the discomfort of change. It will bring me to a new place – the place I’m supposed to be right now.

7 Comments
  • Dustin | Engaged Marriage on August 22, 2011

    Welcome back, my friend! I can totally relate to your feelings, and I’ve allowed myself to be pushed (and pushed myself) through these healthy boundaries a time or 10. You’re doing the right thing by reprioritizing and focusing on what matters to you and God.

    I’ll be here to learn from you and support you no matter the frequency or format.

    Dustin

    • Derek Sisterhen on August 23, 2011

      There’s something about the statement, “I am not alone” that has a way of comforting the soul. Thanks for your words, Dustin.

      If we aren’t careful, we can make the slide over the edge into a world and existence we aren’t ready for (nor really care to experience). I’m glad I’m not alone; and I appreciate that you’re right there with me.

  • nancy on August 24, 2011

    Thankful YOU always share, WHEN you can such insightful and interesting thoughts…

    • Derek Sisterhen on August 24, 2011

      Hey Nancy,

      Thanks for the kind words; I’m glad you found this post thought-provoking. I appreciate you checking in and leaving a comment!

  • Rhaina Amor on September 1, 2011

    Welcome back Derek

    It,s really nice of you to share what you learned during your sabbatical leave. And I really agree to all the things you mentioned here. Like, setting up boundaries and being selective. There quite true and direct to the point. And lastly by admitting that where just human being and we need help is very touching word. It just show how humble you can be. With the knowledge I gain from reading your post, I will start to make some move to at least change my life for better, like what you did.

    Rhaina 🙂

    • Derek Sisterhen on September 2, 2011

      Thanks for such encouraging words, Rhaina! I’m humbled that this post spoke to you in such a way.

      I find that, even after writing some of my learnings and observations from this summer, apply them in “real life” is still a challenge. Being intentional about positive change means there will be a ripple effect across many areas of life. Simply adjusting your schedule to include more time investing in meaningful relationships means that you have to find more time elsewhere to fulfill duties and obligations.

      At any rate, we’re all works in progress and it’s great knowing we aren’t alone in the midst of it all, isn’t it?

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Paul Richard on December 22, 2011

    I can totally relate to your feelings, and I’ve allowed myself to be pushed (and pushed myself) through these healthy boundaries a time or 10, thanks for the post, keep up the good work.

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