This is why I'm five days into a very necessary two weeks off.
Actually, it was worse than that. It was the eyes going *boing* the minute I turned off the light, but no actual ideas coming, because my brain was moving so fast with everything I had done that day and needed to do the next that there wasn't room for ideas to hop on the ride. On Monday, I reached the point where the thought of working made me tear up. After battling it for several hours, I finally faced facts and e-mailed my lovely Producer at HealthCentral telling her that I’d be gone until the 23rd.
Tuesday, I was still in the crying mood, overwhelmed by a feeling of depression deeper than I’ve had in ages. Could not yank myself out of it and didn’t quite understand why it was there. Sure, I was tired and sure, I’ve worked too hard for too long without a break, but this despondent? Whyever for?
The Boy came by that evening and helped me do a bit of an audit of how I spend my time and the conclusion was rather telling. I'm usually awake about 13 hours a day. When we put it all together, 10 out of those hours were accounted for. And that's before eating meals, talking to The Boy, my mother, family and friends, playing with cat, grocery shopping, doing those life things that we all have to do (paying bills, making phone calls and whatnot), and with no allowances for the unusual events that randomly hijack my life.
No wonder I'm tired.
So I thought about it some and realized that from the minute I wake up, I hit the ground running. As I'm getting out of bed, I'm thinking about what needs doing as soon as I’m dressed and the rest of the day continues in the same vein. I'm always doing something, talking, writing, researching, running errands, having meetings and even when I "relax" by watching TV, I'm usually checking e-mail or editing photos (or whatever) in commercials and it's much the same when I listen to a book.
I don't remember the last time my mind has had the space to play.
No matter what I'm doing, the focus is always away from the present. There is always something I'm not doing and there's never enough time to do everything I need and want to do. And because I'm always moving, doing and then moving some more, it's become very easy to not pay attention to how stressed out I was. The regular mental images I've been having for the last four months or so straight out of a Lifetime movie of the week should have been an indication. I mean, it's fairly rare - I hope? - to have flashes of yourself dying early, lying in a hospital bed with your beloved by your side. And instead of making me pay attention, they just reminded me that I needed to hurry and I pushed harder.
And then it all came together in a perfect storm of exhaustion, stress and anxiety and things got a little messy for a couple of hours.
In the past four months, I have worked harder than I ever have before, done more and, quite frankly, mostly had a spectacular time (working hard is my drug). But it has become all work, with no time to feed my soul, to slow down and sit for a spell with the people I love, in this life that I love. All this busy has become a wall between me and my life.
"Life is made of moments. The faster you move, the more you’ll miss."
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness for Beginners
This is what I'm focusing on now. It is the third day of me coming to my senses and I plan to spend today in the same way I spent the last two: doing nothing. Doing nothing but what is really, truly important. In the past two days I have
Sung silly songs to Lucy when she's purring on my lap
Turned on the TV in the middle of the day
Gone to Sugar Beach to watch the water glint in the sunshine
Watched kids learn to sail in tiny sailboats close to the shore
Opened a chapter from The Book to do a rewrite and closed it again because I didn't feel like doing anything that resembled work
Watched birds in a fountain, cooling down, drinking and squabbling for room
Looked at the trees in the distance, noticing how each was a slightly different shade of green
Sat in a church with my eyes closed and breathed
Left my camera at home so nothing would be between me and the world
Read a good book for as long as I wanted
Sat in the sun, feeling the heat sink deep into my bones
I am beginning to feel like myself again.
Sometime next week I'll start thinking about how to slow down the madness when my vacation is over. But not yet. Now is for knitting together my body and my soul again. Now is for now.
Nothing but the moment.