Work that makes me feel live
I had dreams, I had visions. Good things were happening and I was ready to dive into my professional life with a full body flip and twist. All I wanted was complete saturation into MY WORK. Mission statements, personal and professional philosophies, business plans…they were writing themselves faster than I could capture them.
Spurred by the messages of Essentialism and The One Thing, I made a decision to simplify everything else so that I could fully and completely show up for my work-get the advanced trainings, do research, network, build a brand.
I did not anticipate that both of my of kids worlds would start spinning in different directions and at a pace I couldn’t keep up with. And even more significant, that all of the change on top of even more change would cost me a level of health and energy I had taken for granted until it was not there to support me anymore.
My purpose in all of this life-changing simplicity was to create free time. I imagined that after I got all of my ducks in a row, I would live this calm, centered life where my children drove off to school every day and those precious hours were mine all mine to write, to meet with people, to learn, and to create a something wonderful. I wanted to give my whole heart to building up this new company.
Something broke inside of me in the beginning of September. I have tried to write about it from the beginning of this blog, but only because I am just now able to sustain an entire day without a nap, can I see how extremely exhausted I was.
During this season of rest, it was important to me that I not use my health as an excuse or a boundary. I was very intentional to say, “I need rest.” instead of “I am sick.”
I rested all day because I did not what my kids to come home every day to a mom who was asleep all of the time, so I slept as much as I could when they were gone and by the time they were home, I had enough energy to, at the very least, be vertical.
I did not say I was sick or that I was having health issues because I did not-even with my language and thoughts-want to become dependent on not being in good health as a way of taking care of myself.
I also didn’t realize how bad it was until it started getting better.
There were months that I bled more days than not and after a trip to the store or a phone conversation, I was scared I was going to faint. Some days, I felt a hundred years old. Some days, I was scared I was dying. Curiously, I even felt ashamed for not having taken good enough care of myself to be depleted on so many levels.
It was not only humiliating and humbling to be so weak but it was also heart-breaking.
Several years ago, one of my friends had a skiing accident and cried her eyes out when she heard her bone crack, not because it hurt so bad, but because her dream of running a marathon would not be realized, not that spring, maybe not ever.
There is so much I wanted to do and overnight what I hoped to accomplish seemed impossible. What I planned to do with a day took me weeks. What I hoped to accomplish in a year might take me a lifetime. Time was no longer my primary limitation, energy was.
My health has become my top priority. And I am feeling better. Of course, I still need occasional naps, but in addition to healing my mind and my body, this season of rest has changed my perspective of these precious wakeful hours.
Now, I want to do what I must do because it is what I am here to do…you know, like flowers bloom and birds sing.
The joy and thankfulness I have at being alive, being here, having the energy to participate in this beautiful life has changed my dreams, my vision, and my mission.
In the beginning of this season of rest, it quickly became obvious what had to be done, nothing more and nothing less. That is my first definition of work: what we have to do to live. Make the money to pay the bills to buy the food and cook the food, wash the sheets, fill the car up with gas, get everybody where they are supposed to be, etc.
While I have found gratification and meaning in the ordinary doings of our life there are also things bubbling up inside of me which I cannot stop. They fill me up with promise and come out my eyes and ears and mouth. This deep level of rest has tapped into a deeper place inside of me that is more certain than ever before of what I have to share, to give, to learn, to express.
This is the kind of work as what makes you feel alive. This is the privilege and thrill of being human, getting to participate in the sacred, playing in real life.
Like those summer mornings when I was a kid and the whole day was laid out before me for roller skating, biking though the neighborhood, working on the forrest fort with my brother or exploring that serene spot by the creek that I was certain God tucked away just for me.
When we lose a connection to the inherit sacredness in being alive, we only experience work as labor. We spend our days getting through it to start over again the next day. In our exhaustion and numbness, we lose meaning. Even if we are doing what we know is important work (curing cancer, teaching, healing, parenting, creating jobs), if we have lost ourselves we also lose the humanity necessary to experience meaning in any part of our lives.
This work I must do is not a business plan, it is not writing or painting or making my first million. It is just happening.
I can not NOT do it.
It is who I am, how I am, what I say, what I do, where I go, who I find myself with, what I hear or read and it is a thrill. Everyday has become an adventure. I am doing what I must because it has to be done (making life work) and in all the spaces in, around, over and under I am doing what I MUST because it is what I was made to do.
As a well-rested person, I can see and hear things I’ve been too busy and tired to notice. In my desperation for rest, I lived in a rhythm of work-crazy-hard and then crash. I was too tired to love life, too tired to enjoy that creative opportunity, too weary to have that conversation.
Before this season, I believed there was work and rest.
But my work wasn’t really working and my rest wasn’t refreshing.
Netflix and wine is certainly a wonderful way to turn off after a day of intense labor, but it is not restorative.
This kind of work as participating in creation is a type of work that is all the re’s-restorative, refreshing, revitalizing, recreational, and every bit as reenergizing as a good nap.
In my affair with rest, I have fallen in love with work, both types: the sacredness of the ordinary tasks as well as the art of the work I must do because I am the only one who can and I am not throwing away my shot.