You get up frazzled. Rush to get get dressed. Sort of brush your teeth, skip breakfast, and head into a long commute, where work pulls at you in different directions. And if you work in a place that isn't a right fit, you pile on heavy emotional baggage to carry with you for the rest of the week. You get home, crash, and overeat to diminish the tension in your body. But it doesn't quite erase the to-do-lists in your head, the expectations you are trying to meet, the anxiety of being a successful human being. Physical, emotional, and social energy overspent on things you may or may not deem of value. Days go by, months, and years. In the end, is it worth it?
I found myself on this hamster wheel until I decided to jump off. For the first time ever in my life, I can nap peacefully. When I worked as a teacher of elementary aged children, school let out in June, but my summer break didn't really begin until the end of July because it took a month to allow my body to relax, to believe that the world was not going to crumble if I didn't finish that load of dishes, or that someone or something would fall apart because I didn't have things planned exactly as they should be. I could not rest because of all the "shoulds" running in my head like a loop. My body simply did not know how to relax when all it knew 11 months out of the year was maxed-out energy just a thin hairline away from combustion.
After a difficult depression, I forced myself on a personal growth journey. During this topsy turvy time, I redefined my values based on what my soul needed, one of them being to allow myself to experience joyful rest. In the past, I used to nap only when ill and in the few times I couldn't fight daytime sleep, I would wake up panicked that I had wasted time and my to do-list had grown longer. That by running out of hours in the day, I was closer to a death where stress was dressed as the executioner. Sometimes, in my sleep, I would tell myself to wake-up because there was no time for rest and the ensuing feelings of guilt and panic would simmer in me for the next few days.
I'm here to tell you that I had it completely wrong. Burning myself out to no end was a dead end street. No one cared what I got done during the day, the to-do lists are an infinite loop regardless of what I do, and the inability to rest made me much less efficient and present in my life. My one precious life. Denying myself rest was utterly pointless.
I decided to value me and my time and my peace. Not my culture's definition of success.
So now I create boundaries around my time of rest and I tell myself that it is my right do so. My husband takes the kids to the park, dinner is a takeout meal, and I lay on my white daybed to read a book, nap with the sunlight on my face, or just stare out the window admiring the birds in the trees. It looks like nothing to the outsider, but to me, it has given me a second lease on life.
It took me 2 years to truly appreciate and surrender to rest. And let me tell you how magical it is. My daily hour of doing nothing has made me appreciate the mundane, to simply enjoy my breath, and understand that my purpose is more than other people's expectations. It's to live my life with peace brought on by the smallest moments of joy - a caress from my child as I read on the couch, a cup of tea before everyone wakes up, feeling my hair swish as I swing with butterflies flittering around me. Joys that promotions, pay raises, and successful projects could never accomplish.
So now I implore you, demand rest in your day, relish it, and appreciate it as a snapshot of one of life's many gifts.
Because you, my friend, are a gift and the life that you create is full of riches to be treasured.