On Taking Breaks & Being Well

TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN. Its been a productive year. Especially as a member of The Bravery Board- its been, like, very productive. 

For a tiny recap (and I do mean tiny! There is no way to cover all the craziness this year has brought to the three of us in a paragraph) --  In 2016 Madison started a flourishing new business as a life coach, (and has recently been nominated as Beautiful You's International Coach of the Year!) Kate became a mother to a beautiful baby boy, and I pursued my artwork like a madwoman and began writing and performing for my husband's TV show, The Mystery HourIn the midst of all of that, we kept working our day jobs, maintained our relationships, and... AND... we launched The Bravery Board, this crazy thing that has been feeding us and keeping us moving in the direction of health and wellness and goodness that we all so desperately need and crave.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say... whew! There are feelings of gratefulness for how well received The Bravery Board has been in our community, validation that we have been on the right path, challenge as we look ahead to new opportunities and a need for balance, and a bit of downright exhaustion for pushing so hard through a season of getting things done and making dreams become realities. The thrill often outweighs the challenge, no doubt, but that doesn't mean we all aren't a bit tired. 

To handle this whirlwind feeling and to lean into self-care, Madison, Kate, and I decided to take a couple of months off from podcasting and hosting Bravery Board gatherings. We've been mindful to spend time in reflection and thankfulness for what was accomplished in 2016, and to look ahead at new topics, speakers, and plans for the year to come. Slowly but surely, we are chasing our dreams and making them come alive, but I think we all recognized that we wouldn't be able to keep the pace toward our goals much longer if we didn't take a bit of a break.

The realization that slowing down is needed in order to be productive is a slightly new concept for me; one I continue to learn about and make mistakes with. My tendency is to run full-speed ahead until my body catches up with me, screaming to STOP, or SLOW DOWN, or to just DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN RUN! There was the time I was taking 20 hours of graduate school classes in one summer and started getting painful back spasms only to ignore them and land myself in surgery with a disc so herniated I couldn't walk. There was another time I went back to work after having a baby and flat out fell face-first into postpartum depression after trying so hard to be good at ALL OF IT rather than one thing at a time. And now there is this- a December with little travel, little to-do's to check off a list, no Bravery Board things to keep me busy, and I am wrestling with that familiar feeling of being a bit perturbed with myself for being lazy.

Lazy? Really? 

No. I have to tell myself "no" to that nagging anxiety almost daily. I remind myself there is a difference between lazy and rest. Lazy is allowing things to happen to you; watching as opportunities fly by. Lazy is asking other people to do your dirty work whether that's with meager responsibilities around the house or in life. Restfulness is different. Its NEEDED. There are rhythms in life that cannot be ignored and rest always comes into play. Summer leads to fall which leads to winter- a season of dormant darkness. Day always creeps into night where the hours of black seems to last longer than the daylight hours- (any mothers who have been through the first few weeks of breastfeeding an infant can attest to this). Periods of fast and furious working need moments of reflection and rest to be balanced and true. No one can shine their light all the time; they would burn out of precious fuel. 

During the Winter months I struggle with this the most, reminding myself constantly that this too shall pass as I get anxious and annoyed with the lack of ability to go out and do things. As a child of sunlight and plants, I need to be able to roam free, lay in the grass and watch the clouds drift by, eat picnic lunches, and ride my bike through treelined neighborhoods. It sort of feels like its in my DNA- my dad is a huge outdoors-men after all. Typically when Christmas comes and goes, I am left with a sense of melancholy- a reminder in the stillness that I am not living up to all the expectations I set for myself, a reminder that not all is being won and sometimes my body or the sun or the temperature set limits for a limitless mind. 

But this year, as the Christmas season winds up and then back down again, I am challenging myself to be stick to this season of rest we have set for ourselves and to be mindful for the need to slow down and soak in the goodness of still quiet air. I've added many candles to my house, bottles of red wine, and cozy socks and blankets to help me transition to the restful cold. Creating simple routines also helps- Coffee in the morning and 20 minutes to read The New York Times has been the most recent ritual added to my delicate weekday mornings of half sleep and burdensome work. When it is still dawn outside and I am already in my office, this helps ease me into the day a bit. Healthy simplicities make the day brighter in the midst of rest and more open for fresh ideas. 

This slower season is teaching me about the natural need for breaks so I can use them as points of rejuvenation rather than boredom or despair. Any season of little responsibility used to bring on feelings of panic because I would equate quiet with anxiety, but now I believe in the essentialness of taking breaks. Breaks are healthy. Breaks are normal. Breaks are needed. Breaks are the times I get some reading done, paint my nails, make tea, take cold walks with my sister-- all of the things I so often complain about not being able to do during times of pursuit and busyness. I am learning the lesson that all things have rhythms; that I have a rhythm and mine tends to slow me down with the cold. Without it I could not rev back up when the sun comes out and grow. I can't wait to start running again, no doubt-- to share new things and learn new things. I cannot wait for all that is in store for The Bravery Board in 2017 and beyond.

But for now, its time for some rest.