Our perception that we have 'no time' is one of the distinctive marks of modern Western culture.
What's that expression again? There's the calm before the storm? I think that kind of thinking leaves us feeling like we should never get calm because god-forbid-we-will-then-have-to-feel-the-storm.
So we run.
Run, run, run, run, run.
How are you?
I'm so busy!
And how are you?
Busy as always!
But here's the thing: those storms? Those storms are the life we feel we're missing! Those storms are where the connection happens, where trust is built, were we grow. But if we haven't given ourselves a moment of calm before the storm hits, we likely won't be able to handle it with much grace. You've heard this message before I'm sure. Loads of people have used this kind of analogy in the past. It's not new, but somehow it's always relevant. So let's dig into this idea together a little further with a few different examples.
It's October, I launched a new business a few months ago and I've been hustling hard. I've been trying to learn online marketing and entrepreneurship from scratch. Riddle me this: I went to one of the most prestigious business schools in the country and I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. What help was that? I'm not sure yet. Still waiting, 10 year since I graduated and still waiting. I kid, I'm being cynical.
So I'm "cold calling" (see: emailing and DMing) my network to let them know about these fabulous new classes I'm teaching online and why they're so special and much they're going to help folks with their mental and physical health. But behind the scenes I'm also struggling with comparing myself to all the others who have come before me, have built a brand and are well-known for what they do. I'm also grieving the loss of the community that I lost in the breakup between me and the studio where I grew up as a teacher and student for the last 10 years. But God, I've been busy. I've been so damn busy.
In addition to busy and emotionally tired, I'm physically tired. Because guess what? When you're teaching online, suddenly you're also doing all the movement with the class and I've never done that in my entire 10 year teaching career. And I pride myself on the quality cues I give and that shit takes BREATH. And you know what's lacking when you're talking and exercising? BREATH. So I'm physically tired, too, on top of all the other tired.
I decided that things have to change in away. I'm going to take a NAP CHALLENGE. Hello, A-Type personality club? Room for one more? Yes, I will slow down and nap DAILY! HOORAY! So I start napping every day beginning Sept 30th on my wife's 40th birthday — we napped together, it was cute. Then guess what happens… Do I start feeling more energrgized and balanced? At first, yes. A week in though and BAM, I'm super sick. The body crashed and said, "NO. No more! You have to STOP. STOP, STOP, STOP!" So I'm now stopping. I'm stopping dead on the couch surrounded by used tissues, empty mugs of ginger tea and sneezing up a storm.
I slowed down for a week and my body started to scream: "You've got a debt to pay, girl! You owe us big!"
So let's look at the math: starts slowing down, and then gets sick. So then logically, don't slow down and never get sick! Right!? No, not quite. When we start to slow down, the little parts of ourselves who have been whispering to "Please… take it easy" get ignored. Quiet voices are harder to hear. Yes, the body sometimes speaks loudly, but her requests always begin as a whisper. I missed the whispers. I was busy gettin' shit DONE, YO!
You may have experienced this balance between busyness and stillness in your relationships, too. I noticed a pattern between Christa and I in the first year of our marriage where we were also sofuckingbusy. We moved into our first place together. I started teaching full-time again. We worked on getting Christa her permanent residency. We got married. Then she got a work permit and started her business. We bought a car. We set up all the insurances. We got cell phone numbers. We set up a whole life in Canada together from SCRATCH. Ne