This week I decided to do something subversive. I decided that instead of continuing to push through on a couple of projects I am working on, I am taking a break.
Now that might not sound subversive to you -- but for the Type A me, the two stress-induced heart attack me, the create so much value me, it is as subversive as it gets.
I am trying hard to confront the cultural norms I have internalized that have me feeling like I am "doing nothing" if I am not working. But I have to tell you, it certainly isn't easy.
Our entire western culture since about the early 90s has shifted how it evaluates success from a life full of leisure time to a life so full of work that giving up leisure time is a badge of honour and a hallmark of the true leading edge.
Just go look at the TV shows we are presented with. How many of them focus on the life of the characters with work as a backdrop versus how many focus on the work of the characters with their lives as a backdrop?
Gone are the Happy Days, the Full House, the Fresh Prince. And we have firemen, doctors, lawyers, and all manner of overworking as the thing we get to know the most about. We don't see characters on vacation. We don't see characters going to parent teacher interviews at their kids' school. We don't see characters living full lives in the majority of shows. Oh yes, there are a few exceptions but they ARE exceptions.
Our cultural obsession has distilled down to the glorification of overworking to the expense of having a life.
Well, I have decided -- um no, sorry, my body decided -- that continuing this type of relentless work, relentless stress, and relentless self-minimizing will have increasingly bad outcomes.
My first stress-induced heart attack (what I now see as the true warning shot across the bow of my obsession with burnout) was NOTHING compared to my second one.
During my second heart attack, I required a clot-busting medication that stopped my heart (happens in 50% of the people it is given to) and I needed 4 minutes of CPR. And while I was not conscious for the CPR (actually technically my heart had stopped so I was kind of dead) for the next three months my upper chest felt so bruised and sore that I was reminded repeatedly of how close I came.
So while my head keeps telling me "you won't get back on your feet if you don't work harder", my literal heart tells me that if I don't change, I could be floating back in the vibration of the universe where none of that matters.
This is where the decision to take a break comes.
I have taken a break from my garden (it felt so much like work this spring that I just knew it had been colonized by my Type-A attitude).
I am taking a break from worrying about what happens in November when my yearly medical comes up -- my secondary superpower is worrying over stuff I have NO control over and that is just another Type-A change the world habit.
I am taking a break from anything that feels like it is Type-A me struggling to regain control.
But there are a few things I am not taking a break from.....because they bring me joy and peace in this very chaotic and ultimately scary world.
I am not taking a break from posting my self-care message across my social media platforms. Those posts help me as much as they help anyone else and i am reminded, while I write them, what to practice in my daily being.
I am not taking a break from dog shows -- honestly, the dog show world is my escape into something competitive and fun and gets me with groups of people I would otherwise never know and interact with. After these pandemic years, I am more inclined to seek out community that I had in the preceding years because work sucked the desire to be around people right out of me.
I am not taking a break from creating the life I want to live -- no matter how slow it seems to go (I am thinking that a SLOW LIFE can be as good as SLOW FOOD -- so there is that).
And I am NOT taking a break from my new work of listening to my body as the ultimate arbiter of what is right for me. I have spent my entire life ignoring or burying the messages my body is sending me and those 4 minutes of oblivion are there to remind me what that behaviour leads to -- so this is a habit I must continue.
So let me ask you -- what do you NEED to take a break from? How is your body signalling you and are you listening?
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