Last month, we had some really incredible times of rest – an unexpected night on the beach, a spa day with some colleagues, a manicure with family, and a couple nice hotel stays while traveling. But each time we had a nice time of rest, it felt like I was still at the end of my rope, just barely catching up. My eye continued to twitch, that has been pretty constant this year, but my feet started hurting. The pain was consistent with plantar fasciitis, and I was not happy about that, because walking and running has been my way of releasing stress. By the end of the month, I even noticed that I was getting an upset stomach from the stress. Even on the other side of the world from my usual work, I wasn’t able to rest.
I still can’t pinpoint what was actually causing so much stress. We were traveling a bit, and not sleeping well. There were changes in time zones and changes in weather, public speaking and deadlines with work in the US. In some ways, I wonder if I was having a hard time adjusting to life back in the US – the pace is more hectic here, the prices are higher, and it’s hard to get healthy food. It might also have been the environment, most nights sharing space with family or friends, adjusting our schedules to theirs. Maybe it was the time for reflection – being far away from the work I usually do, having space to think about our potentials for long-term impact, wondering where or if we should be changing directions.
What I can say is that I’m doing better now. A big family get-together in another state was canceled, and we found ourselves in a house just for us, in a small town, with not much to do and not even much internet. I read books, I rested, I started practicing mindfulness and stretching more. I enjoyed the fall colors. I would say that I still wasn’t sleeping great and still had some stress at the end of that week, but I finally felt like I wasn’t at the end of my rope. And then, after a 3am wakeup and 17 hours of traveling, this week we are in Hawaii. This place really is magical. I can wake up before sunrise without even trying thanks to the time change. Nobody expects a lot of me and everyone is living at a relaxed pace. I can run by the ocean and breathe deeply as I watch the sun rise and set. I sip tea. I get a lot of sleep. I work less than 8 hours each day.
For all that I’ve studied, for all that I try, I’m still prone to anxiety, I still border on burnout. When one appointment or coordinating detail goes wrong I start to unravel. Sometimes Greg has to pick me up off the floor. I wonder what life is like for people who don’t get the chance to get away and unwind. I am thankful for the space. We have a few more weeks here, me and Greg and his family. My feet still hurt, but I will try to balance physical activity with rest and stretching, and maybe some better insoles. I hope to work just enough to reduce my workaholic withdrawals from productivity. I mean, I’ll probably log over 40 hours this week, but next week maybe I’ll take more than a day off. But for now I will enjoy rest. I will breath deeply. I will sip a cup of tea. I will read one more book.