Last week I had a follow-up mammogram. My initial mammogram turned up a trouble area the doctor wanted rechecked immediately. As fate would have it, I also had pneumonia that I had just started treatment for two days prior. After getting up early and driving my boys to their respective schools, I went in for my second mammogram.
In the midst of performing physical postures that a Cirque du Soleil contortionist would envy, I found my feverish self clinging to the mammogram machine for support. Just at that moment, I caught a glimpse of my sick and disheveled self in the mirror. Clearly, I needed to rest. My nose was red, my hair needed a comb through, and I looked as pale as a ghost.
I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off. I went home, made a pot of Earl Grey tea, took a steamy shower, and watched some taped shows. These small acts of retreat did me a world of good.
Like many of you reading this, it isn’t always easy for me to clear my calendar. I have children who keep me very busy; I work about fifty or so hours each week as well as having myriad other responsibilities and commitments. There is no question that for most of us re-ordering our lives to take a break can take some creativity and some dogged determination. In order to live our best life, we often need to be deliberate and pro-active to make time for ourselves.
Many of us may feel that our worth comes from doing and going all of the time. We may be addicted to busyness. It is probably true that many of us are avoiding really feeling our feelings and our lives by overworking. Maybe we are trying to prove our worth by achieving in order to outrun feelings of inadequacy. Just “being” may feel uncomfortable or even foreign to us.
By mid-life, we often have had to learn the hard way that it is false economy not to take time for ourselves. Some of taking care of ourselves may take the form of meal planning, so that we don’t end up eating a diet of junk food that we happen upon when we are hungry. Maybe we will take time out for a massage. We may choose to take the time to meditate and pray the first moments after we awaken. We may choose life coaching to help us be supported as we traverse down life’s path. If we don’t take frequent and consistent breaks away from the demands of life, we invite the chance of sailing way off course into an unintended life. We might even find ourselves living someone else’s life. Gasp!
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If we never stop and disengage from our routine, we run the risk of our life being one run on automatic pilot rather than passion. By virtue of the fact that we are human beings and not robots, we need to pull back, re-examine, and integrate the changes and nuances of our lives.
I had a glaring reminder at the mammogram center about how important it is to have some down time. It is true that at times “soldiering on” has its place in our lives. Sometimes we have to buck up and push through. As a way of life, however, pushing ourselves without ceasing has a huge price tag. When we find ourselves running on empty, perhaps emotionally and/or spiritually bankrupted, we will simply burn out. The joie de vive isn’t something that should be foreign to us. Joy is our natural state. But when we are burned out, passion and joy can feel like unfamiliar abstractions.
We don’t need to get pneumonia or crash and burn to earn a time out. We are all deserving. We deserve unstructured and self-nurturing time just because we are human beings. If we take the time to feed and fortify ourselves, perhaps seemingly paradoxically, we will come out ahead. Most of us would probably agree that the adage “Life is a marathon not a sprint” is the unarguable truth.
As it turned out, my second mammogram was fine. Because of the process, I was reminded about the gift of life itself and the importance of self-care. If you are a woman who feels that your life’s journey towards self care and self love could be supported through life coaching, please contact me for a free consultation. In any case, please remember to take a break before you really need one.