We all deserve downtime. We need it to survive. Sounds so simple, I know. But I never really got it until today. It's basically like surgery...
The past two weeks have been big. I started Business Heroine Academy. I filmed in-studio for a class with CreativeLive. I kept up my freelance work. I mapped out a new Studio Kittie collection for the holidays. And I started reading The Desire Map.
Every one of those things deserves its own blog - and will get one. But today I'm talking about The Desire Map because it shook up my perception of Rest and some profound thinking resulted.
I spent the past three years working in an office environment and, while I loved so many aspects of it, I did not love Working In An Office™. I never have. I never will. Even my home office is an art studio first, with a tiny table for my computer in the corner. Offices don't rejuvenate me, replenish me, inspire me, light me up. They're not my jam. (Tack on commuting and goodness could I talk your ear off.)
Now I work from home full time and I am loving it. It's a little lonely, to be sure, but I can change that. My plants, my animals, my art supplies, my music as loud as I want, my tea cabinet... these things fuel me, inspire me, bolster me. If I am my work, then my home is my workspace.
Imagine my surprise four weeks ago when I resumed work, at home, after our Montana vacation, only to find... I was exhausted. What? Lakeside cabin retreat? No more office? No more commute? Yoga every morning? I couldn't believe it. In fact, I refused to believe it. I wasn't exhausted, I was just... too relaxed. In need of some serious firing up. Fist pumping motivation, if you will.
Four weeks from then is today, and I'm not fooling myself anymore. I am exhausted. Depleted. Drained. I'm also happy, motivated, productive! I can be both at the same time.
Working through The Desire Map is showing me that a life full of love, joy, great work, and creative ideas can still be incredibly diminishing - if it's lived with the wrong intentions. I walked into that office every day intending to do my very best work (which I did) and to be the very best office co-mate I could be (which was exhausting). I am not an office person; three years in an office took a lot out of me. That's not judge-y or critical or mean, and it's not in any way a reflection on anyone else who worked there (I miss those ladies). It's the truth.
I've spent the past month gently berating myself for not preparing amazing product lines and launching fabulous new offerings. Obviously I just needed to try a little harder, go to bed a little earlier, organize my day a little better. Today I realize, I was very wrong to deny myself the feeling of exhaustion. I was wrong to gloss over my need for downtime and regeneration. I was denying myself the very thing I needed to move forward.
Emotional recovery is like surgical recovery. Have you ever had surgery? If not, you're very, very lucky and I bless you with continued good health and fortune. If you have, you know what I'm talking about. The surgery itself isn't the taxing ordeal; you're out like a light the whole time. Just like how working in an office in and of itself isn't an avalanche of stress. You deal with it day by day.
Post-surgery recovery is a whole different ballgame. You're sore. You're on medication. You can't move around like normal. Possibly you can't eat or drink normally, or use the restroom easily. Things in your body that seem totally unconnected to your surgery still hurt like a mofo. And it takes time - oh so much time - for your body to go from sliced open and fiddled with to feeling normal again.
No one jumps from Surgery to Well. Everyone goes through a period of recovery. It's expected; it's normal. Yet we deny ourselves that critical stage of healing after we've been through an emotionally draining ordeal.
This realization today allowed me to relax, really relax, for the first time in weeks. I am no longer fighting with myself, because I understand what my body was trying to tell me. I need downtime. I need to regenerate my energy. And it's not about how long it will take (because it will take what it takes) or if it will affect my performance (I won't let it). It's simply about breathing deeply into the feeling of taking it easy now, so I can build up the energy I need to springboard into the next phase of Awesome Work.
Because I'm getting ready, world. I may not launch tomorrow like I want to, but when I do, it's going to be spectacular. And I'm so grateful I got it through my temporarily thick skull that resting myself up is the wise, kind, loving thing to do.