The cure for anything is salt water; sweat, tears, or the sea.
True confession #1: I have a difficult time resting. Even now, when I promised myself a rest I picked up the computer to write to you about resting.
I can slow down.
I can take it easy.
I can saunter.
But resting is hard.
I don’t mean resting as in sitting in front of the television and zoning out.
I don’t mean resting as in sitting on the porch and reading a great book.
I don’t mean resting as in sitting at an outdoor café and nursing a coffee or iced tea.
I mean resting where my body relaxes and does nothing but what it does on its own without my directing it – like breathing.
I have been physically and mentally exhausted for months. And yet, while I might sit down, I still find myself doing things like folding laundry or paying bills or putting finishing touches on my book on pilgrimage or thinking of ways to update my website (hello Kim!). Doing, doing, doing.
For now I have shut off the television. I have set aside the book I am reading. I have turned off the music. I have lit the candle that my daughter gave me. All I hear is the ticking of the clock and the sound of the wind chimes hanging on the porch through the open window.
I am going to rest my body. And most importantly I am going to rest my mind. I am going to allow my shoulders to drop from the base of my earlobes where they have stressfully seemed to have taken up residence.
I’m not going to look at the clock. I’m not going to mentally make lists. I’m not going to jump up to dust the furniture in this room.
Resting is not a natural state for me. How about you? Do you find it easy to really rest? Do you feel guilty in resting or do you think it’s mandatory for your physical and mental health? Do you live with people who “get” the importance of resting?
I will rest now. And continue writing in a bit.
True Confession #2: It’s been a few weeks since I last worked on the newsletter and in that time I did not rest much. In fact, I found it nearly impossible to rest. Most nights I tossed and turned until the early morning hours. When I attempted to relax my mind and push aside all the thoughts that were bombarding me I was less than successful. And I paid the price.
My good friend and I spent the past weekend together. We sat and ate and talked and laughed and had a few glasses of wine. At the end of our visit she commented that she hadn’t felt so relaxed in a long time – and she also told me that I looked tired and needed to relax more. Good friends always speak with love and honesty. We had one last sit on my porch with the water fountain bubbling and the wind chimes chiming when she gave me a few tips on how to relax. I felt like the shoemaker whose kids are shoeless.
The day after she left I picked a time that I felt I could give myself 10 uninterrupted minutes. For example, I did not choose to do this right before I needed to prepare dinner. I set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes. I sat and noticed my breathing. Short, shallow breathing is evidence of stress. I was nearing the panting stage.
I paid attention to my breath, placed my hand on my belly and felt how I was breathing. I inhaled deeply and slowly released the breath. I repeated a phrase or mantra as I breathed, eyes closed. 10 minutes – what a game changer.
My daughters have always liked to hear the stories of when they were born but both never could wrap their heads around the bit when I told them that during both births I was so tired that I just wanted to sleep – right in the middle of active labor. And I also wanted to give up. I felt there was no way I could continue. I had resolved myself to living in a pregnant state for the rest of my life. I just wanted to close my eyes and quit.
That’s the phase called transition – when you feel you can’t go on, when you’re tired and feel defeated, when there’s no end in sight to the pain and discomfort. And then the strength rises within you from a place that you never knew existed – and you surge forward – and this miraculous event occurs and you birth a baby. And then you forget about the pain and you become re-energized.
This happens all the time in life – and not just in birthing babies. It happens when we birth anything – businesses, creative ideas, and new ways of living and seeing the world.
So, if you’re going through a transition now, keep going. You may be tired, and feel defeated and overwhelmed. You might even think you can live with the pain of the current situation and want to stop the birthing process of whatever it is you are birthing. That feeling of wanting to stop a birthing process is as unnatural as me thinking I could remain pregnant for my entire life.
Is there something that you’re trying to birth but are resisting moving through the discomfort of the process? Do you find yourself giving up when you have come so far? Do you begin to doubt that you can handle those final pushes to bring something wonderful to life? It’s not easy; it’s often not pleasant. But the labor, the transition does not last forever. Remember that. Plow forward through the doubts, fears, and fatigue.
You might need to change how you’re approaching a situation. You might need to ask for a bit of help and encouragement. But it’s all on you. You have to move through the transition.
There are a few (!) things that I know I need to change in how I live my life. Over the past two months I’ve had to make a few decisions and I know how I would traditionally handle a certain situation. And for the past few decisions I did the exact opposite of what I normally would have done. And by doing so I created shifts in the energy surrounding the situations. I slowly stepped out of the rutted road that was leading me down a path that I no longer wanted to travel. And my feelings changed from ‘same old, same old” to “you go, girl!” And the world continued turning and things really did work out better. The decisions weren’t easy and I wasn’t comfortable making them but in hindsight I can see that they are part of the transition.
Relax and Renew
The transition I’ve been going through, this new way of living my life has not been easy. It’s not been without a mix of fear and tears. I will head to the sea soon. To relax. To renew. To restore.
Wishing you relaxing days as we approach a holiday weekend, a bounty of summer fruit and vegetables, no labor on Labor Day, and some precious time with just you taking in the wonder that surrounds us all day, every day.