There is a view that is burned into my mind that is so clear, so pure and so wonderful. From the first moment I saw this view, over 25 years ago, I knew that it was something special. No matter where I am, I can picture this view, and I feel relaxed. Picturing this view is great, but seeing it, live, is even better. And it’s what I needed this summer.
My life is busy. Very busy. I have a full-time, often very demanding job, a husband, three kids and a dog, a household to run, volunteer commitments and various other obligations. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed at night, I am on the move. My co-workers, my family and sometimes my friends rely on me and lean on me. It’s as though I need to be needed. I often joke that I thrive when I’m busy, or I laugh when I say, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person…. I have always shrugged off offers to help, to take the load off or take a break. Somehow in my mind, I could do it all.
But this past spring it just became too much. No one had to tell me. Nothing significant changed in my life or for anyone around me. I suddenly realized that I was exhausted. I’m always so focused on everyone around me that I forget about myself.
By the time June arrived I felt anxious all the time, and the stress started to get to me. I couldn’t fall asleep at night, I woke often and always felt tired. My workday started before 8 am, while I finished school lunches and hurried my kids out the door. Noon would arrive and I realized I hadn’t yet eaten that day. My daily exercise routine started to disappear. Sometimes I felt forgetful or that I was letting people down around me.
Was I burned out? Maybe? Was it all getting to be too much? Did I need to take a break from the routine, the hustle and bustle of life?
Yes, I needed to.
With July approaching, I knew I had to take action. While I had some firm plans for the summer (including two kids at overnight camp and a family trip at the end of August), I decided to seize the opportunity and put myself and my needs first: I had to get away.
That’s when the view came into my head. Mountains. Trees. Water. I had to go there. I needed to go there. I wasn’t looking for an escape but rather a chance to slow down. Some Quiet. Fewer demands. And yes, a great view.
It’s almost the middle of July, and I’ve been away from city life for just over two weeks. I am fortunate that I’m able to work fully remotely for a few weeks, and to be surrounded by mountains, trees and water. I am considering what’s best for me, and I have really slowed down. I have noticed a few things while I’m here:
I’m Sleeping Well
When I close my eyes each night I easily and gently fall asleep. And while I do wake up once in a while, it’s rare and I fall back asleep quickly. My bedroom is dark and quiet. The window is open, and the only sound I hear is the wind, or rain. When I wake up in the morning, I feel rested and refreshed.
Work is Less Stressful
I am a communications professional, and I love what I do. My job is never boring, and I feel challenged, fulfilled and often very appreciated. But I had taken on too much, and there weren’t enough hours in the day! With a clearer head, I can focus on my priorities, be clear about my limits and complete tasks. I still start my day early, but I stand up and take breaks, I don’t have to hurry anyone out the door and oh ya, in front of me is a great view.
Time for Me
I’m not on vacation, and I do of course have responsibilities. I’m not sitting here alone, with no one to lean on me. But I am not spending every waking moment planning every minute of my day, worried about falling behind or letting someone else down. Every day I’m giving myself ample time to do something that I love, just for me. Sometimes it’s a walk, or a few minutes checking out the ripening blueberries. When the weather is (hopefully!) warmer, I will head out on the paddle board, or go for a swim.
A few days ago I started to exercise again. Outside. In front of my view. It’s easy to do any stretch when you’re looking at the mountains, trees and water. And as long as it’s not pouring rain outside, I’ll be out there every day to exercise.
The Food Tastes so Good
Some people will laugh when they read this. First of all, I am, for the most part, remembering to eat. And what I mean by that is that I’m not looking at my watch at 12:00 pm, stomach growling and saying, wow I’m hungry. And everything I eat just tastes so good. I will first and foremost give credit to the family around me who are supremely talented chefs. We also share the load of shopping for food, cooking and cleaning, and when this is shared, everything just tastes better. It’s not all falling on me, and I can enjoy being part of it.
I really am feeing refreshed, and there probably are many other reasons why I feel, well, better. I also know that soon I will return home, with many of the same demands of work, family, household and just general things life throws at us. But I am seriously thinking about what I can – and can’t do, in all aspects of my life. I can say no sometimes, and I can ask for help. And I have to make sure I always find time to do things that I love, just for me.
I value every moment here, away from the city and what it throws at me. I also know I am privileged to have the opportunity to be here, to work remotely and to be surrounded by family who care about me. I don’t take any of that for granted. The feeling of burnout is going away, though there are embers still around of some stress. No matter where I am, I have responsibilities which I take very seriously. But that’s okay. When it gets to be a bit too much I just close my eyes and picture that view. Or while I’m here, I will just look up. It’s right in front of me.