We were recently able to sneak away to Maui for 17 whole days- an amount of time that felt downright scandalous to set aside for the sole purpose of rest which is probably why I secretly planned to accomplish a lot of “inner work” while I was there.
You know, dreaming, planning, reflecting, figuring out my next right step in all major categories of life, that sort of thing.
There was none of that.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Instead I rested.
Like, actually rested.
Not being productive might be the most productive thing I’ve ever done.
It was like my entire soul exhaled when I wasn’t even aware I’d been holding my breath.
I didn’t recognize it until I’d finally relaxed (which wasn’t until around Day 4 because it takes a while to fully decompress) but it turns out I’m actually a pretty high-strung person. Maybe not on the surface.
My mind is always buzzing. It’s leaping to the next thing on my to-do list, or fretting over what that list should consist of, or it’s indulging my inner monologue which runs an endlessly critical loop of worry, pressure, and/or guilt.
Wow, I really sound like a basket case here, don’t I? But hey, I’m just being honest. I’m not proud of it, but the truth is that the real me is not very chill. Which is why it was so good to quit dressing up rest with a secret agenda for “inner work” for once. To take the time to rest, be with my people, play in the ocean, and completely SHUT IT DOWN.
It reminded me of this thing that Emily Freeman said last year at the Hope*Writers workshop. She was talking about waiting as an important part of creative work and she pointed out that music isn’t solely made up of different notes strung together, it’s equally about the pause between those notes.
And then she said:
“Rest needs a full stop.”
She wasn’t even done speaking the words when I was already busy scrolling them in bold lettering across the top of my page of notes. I think I knew I’d need them this year.
You see, 2017 has been somewhat of a pivotal year. A lot has shifted. Mostly because I’ve finally found the courage to name the dreams hidden away in the corners of my heart. To give them voice and life and action instead of leaving them safely tucked away in the peripheral of my consciousness.
I began taking my creative work seriously instead of brushing it off as a “hobby.”
I wrote a book proposal and signed a contract with a literary agent.
I quietly opened a business called Dream Big Consulting, because I believe your dreams actually matter, and not just to you.
I flipped another house with my husband,
I set up my own office in our home- a sacred little space where I can sit down and do all these things that help me become more fully myself.
I could sit here and tell you how excited I am about all that stuff- because I am. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also tell you that it wreaked a bit of havoc on my sensitive, anxious soul in the process.
There’s a natural ebb and flow to the creative process, but because I’m so new to all of it, riding that wave often leaves me feeling a bit unsteady.
When I start to feel that way, I’m learning that the best thing I can do is to hit the pause button, allow rest to have a full stop, and to give myself permission to honor the slower, more mundane rhythms of my life. Cooking dinner, helping my kids with their homework, even watching Netflix on the couch with Nate (or alone, amiright?)
Sure, the work I do in my office thrills me, scares me, and makes me feel more alive in the process, but all the stuff that happens in between, the day to day moments that make up my small and happy life, are equally defining and satisfying for me. They bring a different kind of joy that isn’t flashy or sexy, but it’s deep-seated and steadying.
Which is good, because it’s not like we can run off to Maui every time we need to recharge our batteries, right? But as my friend Maeve reminded me earlier this week:
The invitation for rest is always there, hiding in plain sight right in the middle of our actual everyday lives.
So as 2017 winds down, I hope you’re able to grab onto some of that rest for yourself, friends.
Whether it means intentionally slowing your racing thoughts, honoring the simple gift of Netflix with your person, or lingering on your pillow or over a cup of coffee instead of your to-do list, may you find joy in the rhythms of right where you are.