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Nothing doing

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Let me tell you what: 3+ weeks of unscheduled vacation time? Just what the doctor ordered (and the doctor is me).

First, I must say thank you for all of your amazingly kind words after I bailed off the trail. I knew that I had made the right decision, but still felt a little sheepish that I might be letting people down, and that disembodied internet voices would tell me so. How silly of me. I have the greatest friends and family in the world, and this fact was only more firmly emphasized last week.

So, now I’m on vacation. I’m basically doing nothing. I’m doing a great job of not hanging out on social media and not checking my phone very often (if you’ve tried to get in touch with me, I should just go ahead and apologize). When I first came home and realized that I had 3 ½ weeks of unscheduled free time ahead of me, I thought about going on a big trip – Hawaii, Europe, maybe a Road Trip USA. But then I remembered that my unscheduled time off was also unpaid time off, and I probably shouldn’t go blowing my Dave Ramsey Emergency Fund on frivolous gallivants and romps. So Colorado is where it’s at.

I obviously would never have taken a 5-week leave of absence from work just to lie around and relax – but good grief, have you ever done this before? It’s HEAVEN. Never in my life have I had an opportunity to rest my brain and body to this extent. It’s worth not getting paid for.

I still have two weeks before I have to head back to work (on my birthday, so please arrange for your gifts to arrive at the office), and have a few things I hope to do and thoughts I hope to think. But mostly, I’ll be waking up each day and taking Foxy on a walk and then just seeing what happens next. Last night I got to see this sunset, so life is obviously rich these days.

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To rest is to waste, and other lies

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Sophomore year of high school, my algebra class was the last period of the day.  Every Friday, in the last two minutes before the bell would ring, the teacher would stand up in front of his squirrelly students and give the same speech: “I know you’re anxious for the weekend.  You’re thinking about all of the fun you’re going to have, all of the time with your friends, how you don’t have to come to school for two whole days.  But listen: the minute you walk out that door, the clock starts.  The instant that the bell rings, time starts ticking away, getting smaller and smaller and smaller.  Right now – this moment – is the very best part of your weekend, because it’s all still ahead of you.  But,” he would famously finish, “IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE.”

Cue the bell ringing, and me sprinting out into the weekend, hell-bent on not losing a single second.

Who knows how formative my high school math teacher’s speech was in my current life.  All I know is that I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, to succeed, to do more and do it well.  I find it next to impossible to sit still, and it’s hard for me to separate “time rested” from “time wasted.”  Add it to the list of reasons why “Annie needs therapy”: in my mind, nothing-doing is synonymous with failure.

This belief system keeps me moving at a frantic pace.  My busy, busy job takes up the vast majority of my brain space, and whatever is left is instantly snatched up by family, friends, exercise, and commitments.  If I have a free day, I fill it up – if I have a free HOUR, I fill it up.  If “vacation” is defined as “a scheduled period in which activity is suspended,” then I have never taken a vacation.  Ever.

Years of a rapid, anxiety-driven lifestyle are catching up with me.  These days, I am so tired.  I find it hard to breathe, and even harder to think.  Stress has reached an astronomical level.  My shoulders are tight and knotted.  I’m starting to believe that the biblical concept of a Sabbath isn’t such a dumb idea after all.

So it’s after 9 on Sunday morning, and I’m still in bed.  I skipped my original plan of getting up at 3:30am to climb two more mountains in favor of a day of nothing-doing.  I can’t remember a day in which I had zero plans – and even though I’m tempted, I’m choosing to not feel guilty about allowing my heart and my brain and my body to rest today.

It’s all downhill from here.  But maybe that means I can sit back, close my eyes, and just coast – if only for a day.