Summer is here and I am in mini retreat mode. Yet, I’m finding it challenging to settle in to the pause. Rushing to get things “done” so I can go on vacation, my mini retreat has felt more like my regular work weeks than I’d like.
I was talking with my Sisters in the Sacred Circle about how we were going to handle my limited internet access during my vacation time (we typically converse daily in our Facebook group). I was concerned that I would be letting them down if I went for a few days without connecting with them. But one by one they started to chime in that I needed a break and it was okay to actually take a vacation, even from the Sacred Circle. They assured me that they would be fine during my absence.
Suddenly I felt like I could breathe again. I hadn’t realized how much pressure I had been putting on myself to preemptively handle everything that might crop up in the two weeks I’ll be gone. But of course, you can’t predict the future, so it’s nearly impossible to account for “everything” that could happen.
The more I’ve been thinking about my struggle to cut down on “work” mode and move into mini retreat mode, the more I’ve realized that this too is a life lesson. I think one of my Sisters said it best when she said, “Maybe you are supposed to learn the lesson of disconnecting from “work” and focus on fun and adventure!!” She knows me well!
I’ve found this concept of giving ourselves permission coming up a lot lately – with my private clients, in my group coaching programs, with friends, and, yes, for me personally. This reminds me of an experience I had with a client a few years ago. I had asked her what she did for fun and she said, “You don’t understand, when I let myself sit down on the couch for even 5 minutes, the voice inside my head [the inner critic] tells me I’m being lazy and I should get up and do something.” How many of us can relate to that? We wear our busyness as a badge of honor. We pride ourselves in never taking sick days or vacations. But is that really the way you want to live your life?
When my partner and I first met, he told me that he had over 6 weeks of vacation saved up. At two weeks of vacation a year, that meant he hadn’t allowed himself to take a day off in over three years. He was also working two jobs at the time, so he worked most evenings and weekends as well. I would’ve been more stunned if I hadn’t had been guilty of the same thing… As we talked about this, we realized that work was an escape for both of us, but now that we were happy and had someone in our lives we actually wanted to travel with, we should do something about it. We decided to hold each other accountable for taking time off and exploring the world and having a little fun. So we made a pact to take at least 2 week-long vacations per year. We made a bucket list of places we want to go and are continually adding (and now crossing off!) places we want to go. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to our vacations!
Yet, you don’t have to take weeks off or go to exotic locales to give yourself permission to just … be. In the busyness of our everyday lives, sometimes the idea of a vacation seems like a far off pipe dream. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. What would happen if you gave yourself permission to take 5 minutes to yourself every day to simply unplug and be? How would that change your life? If 5 minutes seems too easy, then go for 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes! You don’t have to sit in meditation or have a plan for your 5 minutes. In fact, I think it would be better if you didn’t. Rather, just allow yourself to simply be. Like an empty bowl, simply be there – open and ready to receive.
I’d love to hear what you find in your daily practice. Give it time and I bet the insights that simply be-ing give you will be profound.