Last weekend, after weeks and weeks of hustle, I found myself taking 3 days to do...nothing.
- There were at least 5 loads of laundry to fold laying on my bedroom floor.
- Garden beds to weed.
- School papers and mail to sort.
- A closet to organize.
- Flowers to plant.
- Garage items to purge.
- Garage sale items to tag.
- Thank you notes to write.
- A basement to sort…let’s not even go there!
- And we were hosting friends for dinner.
And on and on.
But I just couldn’t do any of it. Call it fatigue. Run down. Luteal Phase of my cycle. Call it anything you want. And the more I thought about all things I needed to do, the more tired I became. I felt overwhelmed and completely depleted.
This happens to me from time to time. The times I push myself too long without margin and extend my energy reserves beyond my functioning ability. What happens? I physically and emotionally shut down. Forced vacation. Soul fever.
If I don’t honor her, she will growl and bark until it’s not a forced vacation anymore. It’s a forced illness.
6 weeks ago, I knew this might happened. I looked at my schedule and thought, “Ok girl. This is going to be really full. How can I support myself with gobs of nourishment amidst this busy season?” And I did a lot to nourish myself. I got a couple massages and chiropractic adjustments. I went for walks and ate balanced meals with whole foods. I put fresh flowers all over my house and I even worked on my business outside when it was warm and sunny. Last week I took myself to the beach to sit by the water for an hour of quiet.
Yet, while I was doing many things to nourish myself, my schedule was frankly too full. I didn't have any space to create space to play. To read. To rest. To relax. What I noticed deep inside were these old belief patterns creeping back into my mind whispering phrases like:
- I’m so overwhelmed.
- I don’t have enough time!
- I'm so behind.
- When I get xyz done, then I’ll take time to relax and enjoy.
- I have so much to do.
The old me would hear these things and keep going. Keep pushing. Keep hustling. Keep grinding and rev the internal engine harder and faster. And I’ll tell you, making decisions and making a life from this place and this pace is unpleasant.
Often times as women we stay here. Stuck in this vicious cycle. We realize we're overloaded but how do we stop it? We live in patterns of fear; fear of not being or doing enough, fear of failure, fear that our worth is based on what we achieve and accomplish, fear of letting our loved ones down. And when we make decisions from a place of fear, judgement, and anxiety, the cycle perpetuates and it's like motion sickness. "How the heck do I get off this roller coaster?"
And in comes fatigue. Irritability. Jacked-up PMS symptoms. Cravings. Skipping meals. Self-care goes out the window. Operating with my head rather than my heart. My patience wears thin. My conversations are compromised. My presence is lost. I can't even hear life happening around me.
The key for me is to give myself permission to slow down.
Sometimes I must physically slow down. Because when I get in these modes, I act like I'm always in a rush - walk fast, eat fast, drive fast, talk fast, breath fast...
So, I must intentionally slow down my walking (Which is hard for me to do; you'll know this if you've seen me walk!). I slow down my driving (again, this is hard for me to do, I have places to go, people!). I slow down my eating, from fast-paced in the car or standing up to sitting and savoring and slowly eating. I slow down my breathing. Deeper. Calmer. I slow down my schedule. Remove before add. And I slow down my talking. Talk less, listen more.
This is why I LOVE practicing the Sabbath each week. I believe it was given to us as a gift for a reason but far too many of us don't practice Sabbath. Wayne Muller in the book Sabbath writes:
Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop - because our work is never completely done. With every accomplishment there arises a new responsibility...If we refuse to rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolved the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished. The old, wise Sabbath says: Stop now. As the sun touches the horizon, take the hand off the plow, put down the phone, let the pen rest on the paper, turn off the computer, leave the mop in the bucket and the car in the drive. There is no room for negotiation, no time to be seduced by the urgency of our responsibilities. We stop because there are forces larger than we that take care of the universe, and while our efforts are important, necessary and useful, they are not (nor are we) indispensable. The galaxy will somehow manage without us for this hour, this day, and so we are invited - nay commanded - to relax, and enjoy our relative unimportance, our humble place at the table in a very large world. The deep wisdom embedded in creation will take care of things for a while."
Isn't this beautiful? There's so much freedom and wisdom here. I highly recommend this book.
If you find your life overwhelmingly full and you're always in a hurry, perhaps the best remedy is not to step on the gas. It is not to push, grind, force, crank it out, hustle, lose sleep, compromise connection within ourselves, our self-care and our loved ones. It's simply to step back and recover from the motion sickness and recalibrate your bearings. All while listening to the new belief in your mind:
- I do have time.
- Life can continue without me rushing about.
- My family will manage without me for this hour.
So this weekend, staring at all the things I could be doing. I dropped it all.
It’s not possible to create a nourishing life making decisions from a place of anxiety, overwhelm, stress, should’s, ought-to’s.
So...instead, this past weekend I gave myself permission to rest. To play. To ask my body what she needed to recharge and restore. I took naps. Several naps. While I gave the main floor of my house a good 45 minute cleaning because I wanted to, I left the piles. I released my expectations. I released the “list”. I took a deep breath and let it go.
I read a book in bed for a couple hours. I sat in my backyard with my face to the sun and after I sat for awhile, I had a desire to get my hands in the earth so I weeded for an hour. I went for a 45 minute soul stroll while talking on the phone to one of my dearest friends who lives 3 time zones away. I watched a movie in bed after the kids fell asleep.
And while I was reading a book in bed all sorts of energy started to refuel me – my creativity sparked, my spirit inspired, my body relaxed. I realized once again that my most nourished self comes when I make room to slow down, when I create space to invite in ideas and people and conversations and laughter and learning....and doing nothing. Being completely unproductive, spontaneous, spirit-led and feeling okay about it.
For many people in my circle, this season has felt hasty and with the holiday and summer around the corner, I invite you to find time to be unproductive. To go slow. For no reason other than to realize that life can and will continue just fine without you rushing about. So that you can invite in more moments of simplicity, savoring, laughter, play and a more soulful and nourishing way of living and learning.