On Friday morning, I felt like I was staring up a hill with no motivation to climb it. I felt pre-tired.
The hill was made of writing and painting. Those are my usual Friday activities. It’s my one full day of the week dedicated solely to art. That morning I easily found the energy to complete a difficult work out in my living room, and then jumped at the opportunity to head to a friend’s house for tea. But work?
When I started sorting out possible photos to paint, instead of my usual curiosity mixed with the thrill-meets-fear of whether or not I can do it, I felt deep resistance. Like, dog digging its heels in and refusing to budge against the pulled leash level resistance. I had near nausea; I simply didn’t want to do it. When I thought of parking myself at my laptop to write, I had the same reaction.
It occurred to me that I might just call it and take a full rest day. Immediately, I felt my spirits lift.
I spent the rest of the day lolling about in the bathtub with a book and a face mask or on the couch with the same book but now a cup of green tea. When I thought, out of habit, that maybe I would do xy or z task later in the afternoon, I struck myself down with, “today’s a rest day”. My check list would be there later on.
My stepmom’s voice sometimes ricochets around in my head at moments like these, because she used to give a deep sigh at hearing about some of my weekends. She would tell me I needed to learn how to rest. It was an exasperated kind of a sigh. I never took her advice, although I considered her perspective and wondered if she was right.
I must have truly been exhausted on some level on Friday, even if it wasn’t physical, because it takes a lot – a lot – for me to take a true rest day. I need to be sick. And, that’s kind of what it felt like. I wondered briefly if I was getting sick, but then my physical energy was high and my immediate change in mood when I granted myself the rest day told me that something else was going on.
I am someone who enjoys creating. I chafe at calling myself a “creative”, because that sounds demeaning, but when I think about the activities that are the most work but also the most reward, it’s about painting images into being, learning how to support a roomful of people trying to do a thing together in a way that maximizes their desired outcome (ie, writing agendas and facilitating), writing stories and anecdotes that only live in my heart and mind until they get down on paper. I love DJ-ing dance parties, and otherwise curating experiences.
What is all of that, if not creating? Yes, it takes a lot of effort, but I almost always am happy with the result, which helps propel me deeper and forward into my life.
I think my energy is fragile these days and was particularly compromised on Friday because I’ve been pushing myself forward on steps that are required of but no longer fit me. Sitting at a laptop for 30 hours a week while consulting is becoming more draining than rewarding. I follow through on it because I am committed to it, and I really do give myself the extra push needed to fully inhabit my role. But that push comes at a cost, and I think I felt that on Friday.
I also am ready to downsize the material needs in my life in favor of a more compact existence, with less “stuff” and fewer bills to pay. That moment is coming, but not quite yet.
It’s been a long Alaska winter, following and still during an even longer pandemic. We’ve been saving every penny, and that’s a difficult posture to hold for a very long time. I crave sunshine. When I think about the desert, which I do too frequently, I feel homesick in a profound way.
My husband reminded me that we are taking active steps to change our situation. It’s true. But I’ve never been a steps person. I’ve been a “paint it or write it into being; flip the switch, go to the place, life is short” actor; I don’t need instant gratification but I’m swift and decisive in making change because, again, I like creating. Life is a constant creation for me. I like to make things happen.
What’s happening now is the slowest but also, probably, deepest and most thought-through series of changes I’ve made in my life so far, in partnership with Wes. This takes time, and not even too much more of it. But I still feel the every day waiting and working in the meantime, and the routines in building toward our big life move have started to wear me thin.
I don’t have an easy answer for it except recognition. And, perhaps I can afford myself a few more rest days in the meantime, knowing that soon I’m coming into enormous, welcome change alongside all that will be required of me then.