My margins have been too small.
Three weeks ago, I was two days away from spring break. 18 straight days of a somewhat scaled-back schedule. Some creative work projects on the go but more home time, more kid time, more me time. It was gonna be great. And then?
I woke up that Thursday morning before the long awaited break with a giant, mega, head-piercing migraine. I cancelled my day. I full on cancelled – for the first time in my entire career – a workshop. The thought of online webinar presenting literally had me running to vomit in the toilet…
I couldn’t see straight.
I couldn’t think a coherent thought.
I certainly wasn’t presenting a workshop.
And so I did the only thing I could do. I fell into bed. In the span of 48 hours, I slept for 36 of them. I sort-of ate. I sort-of said hello to my family in the brief periods of being awake. And otherwise, I just slept.
Four days later, that headache finally released its hold. Around that time, I was talking with Tara, my amazing, wise, and uber-supportive assistant, and she said something SO GOOD.
She said, “You need bigger margins.”
Now … I am a psychologist. I am the person who tells all the people how to live their best life and all the things. Why had I never heard this phrase before? And why had it not even occurred to me before? She went on to describe it. She said that life is gonna happen. So you can’t deplete resources to the very edge of everything. You have to live with margins. This means you set your life up so that even in the worst case scenario, you will have a little bit left. You will have margins that are big enough.
Something about that clicked for me.
In this time of COVID, I have noticed that my usual patterns of “being” have become altered. In my part of the world, we are still living with quite significant restrictions – which have just recently increased again due to exponentially rising case numbers in the thousands now. So in the absence of plans with friends, and neighbourhood dinner parties, and weekend getaways, and vacations in the sun, I have found myself … working. From the clinic, my home office, my couch. Working. I have taken on all sorts of new projects. Said yes to extra things. Worked evenings and early mornings and weekends… you know, just catching up on emails or the to-do list. Trying to answer that last email or review that last report from a team member. Trying to keep the ever fluid (not to mention during COVID – OMG to business owning in the time of COVID!) environment of owning and operating a couple of businesses somewhat under control.
It turns out, I was chipping away at my margins and I didn’t even know it. Sure there were little signs along the way. My sleep had become disrupted. I found myself with a shorter fuse. I was exhausted all the time. The usual life stressors of sorting out my kids lives and up-keeping a home and managing a post-divorce coparenting relationship become sometimes GIANT stressors. I was done. By late afternoon on a good day, I just wanted my bed. On a not so good day I woke up just wanting to STAY in bed.
I started thinking things like, “Maybe it’s a iron deficiency?” or “Maybe I’m in early menopause?” or “Maybe… blahblahblah?” I did not once have the thought, “It is time to rest.” Imagine that the answer to months and months of struggling was in rest. Rest that restored the soul. Rest that was not simply about sleep. Rest that allowed me to attend to my mind. Rest that allowed my world to be quiet enough so that I could hear my own soul speak.
And so: two days before my long awaited break, my body decided to send a very loud message. There was no option but to REST.
Now on the other side of that wake up call of sorts, and having had a couple of weeks to really sit with how out of whack I had allowed it all to become – even though you might think I, of all people, should know better – I am sitting with that idea of rest. How rest is part of growth. How without rest we become stuck. And why it is that we become so utterly attached to busyness and performance and achieving and delivering and not disappointing that we forego even our most basic of needs?
I’ve talked this through at length with my own healer and counsellor. About how I allowed it to be what it had become and also how to sort out a balanced path forward with the various responsibilities always seemingly pressing in from the edges. I have arrived at a few conclusions – some of them new and some of then just underlinings of things I have long known and perhaps had not yet fully internalized:
- Rest is essential to EVERYTHING.
- Rest is a natural state.
- Rest makes way for growth.
- Rest spurs creativity.
- Rest allows for mindfulness.
- Rest is the gateway to consciousness.
My loves. You do not need to perform to be “good enough.” The universe will NOT come to a screeching halt if you don’t fold that load of laundry, deal with the organizational sh*t show in your back entryway, sort out the actual sh*t show in your yard from where the dogs have been doing their business, answer those 5 emails, message your friend, return that call, or edit that report. The universe is SO beyond that.
The universe is oozing with wisdom around all of these sorts of things, and knows that rest is at the epicentre of what it is to be fully actualized as a human being.
And so, in this season of spring and easter and renewal, let us focus on that. Let us embrace rest as a natural state of being. Surrender the hustle. You cannot hustle for happiness. Retreat to rest. Rest is the space in which we connect with our true humanity. And from there, everything … EVERYTHING becomes possible.
Onwards and upwards y’all.