At the end of July, my husband said to me, "We need to take off the last two weeks of next month." I immediately felt two things.
Panic--how the hell could I "afford" to take off two weeks?
Desire--OH I want to do this!
I sat with these two feelings for awhile. They represented the two aspects of myself that are always at war with each other it seems.
The panic came from the person inside who believes that I must always be "productive"--doing, accomplishing, making shit happen in the world. She fits in well with dominant culture, especially in the US, where it's all about the disease of being chronically busy.
The desire came from that other person inside me--the one who knows that sometimes we need to just BE. The one who recognizes that the purposeful, centered DOING that is what I really seek can only come about when I allow myself the time and space to breathe.
I ended up taking off the two weeks. We didn't go anywhere--it was the classic staycation. Instead, I took time to make art, to write in my journal, to read novels and re-read some personal development books that had been calling to me from the shelves. With our neighbors, we hosted a dance party, where we invited friends over for drinks and dancing to Pandora on our tiny patio. Days unfolded with no particular plans and no need to "accomplish" anything. It was incredibly replenishing for my spirit.
I know that I've written in the past about the need for slow times and retreat to rejuvenate. But like most people, I still struggle with honoring these in myself. I can tell YOU that you need this, but it's harder for me to take my own advice.
Slowly, though, I'm recognizing how absolutely critical it is for me to start with myself. It's the old "put on your oxygen mask first before trying to help someone else." So I'm claiming this need and already looking forward to scheduling two more intentional weeks in December. This is as necessary to my "productivity" as my to do lists. It's also essential to the other parts of my life--the relationships I value, my own creativity, my spiritual and emotional self who does not thrive on daily accomplishments.
I keep spiraling back into this essential knowledge--of the need for stretches of time where we stop pushing ourselves and just revel in where we are now. As I return to the "real world" this week, I'm trying to bring with me some of the peace and centeredness I felt with time off, restructuring my days to focus more on what really matters and less on all the stuff that feeds a frantic, anxious pace. I do my best work when I do it from my calm center. The more I can feed this place in myself, the better I am for myself and for the world.