It’s a cliche, but sometimes you don’t know what you need until you’re in the middle of it and realize…it was just what you needed.
That’s what happened to me last week. I took the week off. I actually did not work. For the first time in, well, over a year. And it was desperately needed – I was so far in the muck and the mire of daily life and the grind that I didn’t realize how much I needed it.
I spent time with 2 of the people I love most in the world – my parents. (I know I am beyond lucky in that I actually like my parents, despite our, well, radically different beliefs, political leanings, etc.) I sat on the beach. I read 5+ books. I stared at the ocean. I dozed off under the umbrella. I walked on the beach, and ran on the beach, and watched the sunrise from somewhere other than my office chair. I was overwhelmed at times, yes, because a group of 15 other people is overwhelming to someone who lives alone 99% of the time.
They were the most welcoming, loving group. They let me participate and engage as much as I wanted. They never pressured me to join in, they never questioned my choices or told me what to do. They welcomed my (minimal) help in the kitchen (I mostly loaded the dishwashers… my great contribution to our week…)
It was something I needed so desperately. And something that I need to build into my life with some regularity.
It’s also become clear to me that what feeds my soul is not what feeds my spouse’s soul. And that’s okay. He goes to outdoor concerts (seriously, kill. me. now.), he spends time drinking and hanging out with his friends. He doesn’t really read. He does walk and bike, but I like to hike and spend time in nature if I’m not working out at the gym.
So now I know. And I have realized that building in this downtime may be essential to me actually doing something with my life and my career.
It’s kind of a big “duh” moment for me. Lots of people have told me this over the years – that time away is essential for a fresh perspective and actually moving my work forward. But I chose not to listen. I chose not to do what they suggested.
Sometimes you need to be smacked between the eyes with something for the, oh, 100th time for it to sink in. Particularly if you are a bit, well, stubborn, like I am. (OK, maybe more than a bit.)
So now I know. Scheduling time for myself – with or without others – at regular intervals throughout the year. Whether it’s local (I really want to go glamping!) or a road trip (Colorado is on my list) or just a long weekend at home (harder for me to disconnect, though).