Cougar Women at Work
Cougar Women at Work last met on September 25. Our guest speaker was UH anthropology professor, Dr. Vicki Bradley who spoke on the topic of how caregivers often feel that their own wells are empty as they give so much to many others. Dr. Bradley was an enthusiastic and authentic presenter and her message and well metaphor resonated with UH staff who attended. Although the presentation was planned months ago, it seemed especially timely in this post-Ike time period. The workshop began with each attendee noting who they cared for in their lives. As you might imagine, at the top of the list were often UH students, followed by family members and friends.
The workshop was very interactive as Dr. Bradley asked: “Are you stressed out? Burned out? Is your Giving Well empty?” She noted that the metaphor of filling up a well is a simple way to visualize the process of caring for one's self. Participants wrote down how they felt when their wells were empty, followed by a list of what kinds of things fill up their wells. Many common themes resonated with people feeling tired, frustrated, angry, sad, and self-pity when their wells were empty. Things that filled up a person’s well were varied, and included reading, praying, sleeping, shopping, cooking, and getting massages. Interestingly enough, what filled up one person’s well, for example, shopping, could be the same thing that drained the well of another. The topic of obstacles that prevented workshop participants from filling up their wells was briefly discussed and included feeling guilty, not entitled, being socialized as a people pleaser, or having difficulty saying no to requests. Suggestions to move through obstacles were related and practical suggestions offered by the presenter as well as workshop participants. For instance, one workshop attendee noted that she sets aside an evening a week for self-care while another goes to lunch and an afternoon movie with a friend occasionally, which does not require additional child care arrangements.
Workshop participants left with a clearer understanding of what fills their wells and what happens when their wells run dry as well as a commitment to take action soon to fill up their wells with an activity they defined as being a well-filler. Dr. Bradley is working on a written component for her workshop curriculum that will soon be available. Interested individuals can contact Dr. Bradley by contacting the Women’s Resource Center at (713) 743-8156.