Tag Archives: Day of Rest

Day of Rest: Burnout Recovery

The door to nowhere…

I’m categorizing this post as a “Day of Rest” because that’s usually what I post, if I post, on a Sunday. To be fair, it could also be a Life Rehab Resources, or What I Learned, or What I’m Doing. I’m realizing that after nine months of taking care of myself and trying to be patient, that if I was 100% burnt out nine months ago, I’m still about 87% burnt out now, and I should maybe be taking a more direct approach (instead of trying to “wait it out”), which for me typically starts with some deep research and contemplation.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram asking for books that had helped people through recovery from burnout, even if it wasn’t specifically about burnout. Some of the suggestions were:

One person on Facebook asked for clarification about the cause of my burnout, as that might help her make a more effective recommendation. As I told her, and I think have said here before, “the reasons are compound: just retired after 19 years in a stressful job, on year 11 of perimenopause, an autoimmune disorder, complex-PTSD, etc. So pretty much pick a reason and I’ve probably got it.” That makes deciding on a direct approach for recovery so much more complicated.

What’s been working for me so far, in terms of practices and support: Therapy, quitting my job, reading, watching lots of TV and taking lots of naps, eating what I want when I want it as much as I want, aqua aerobics, yoga, meditation, massage, having honest conversations with those close to me, asking for what I need, walking and napping and cuddling with my dogs, my infrared heating pad, our new living room furniture, flowers in the bathroom, cleaning out my office, getting more plants, limiting the amount of time I spend “peopling,” listening to music and podcasts, comedy, sitting in the sauna, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs are asleep, really good healthcare for my dogs (the better care they get, the less stressed I feel), writing, turning down the volume on bad news, cute animal and baby and dance videos, art, CBD oil, a small dose of THC before bed to help me sleep, the softest pjs in the world, my moon lamp, my HappyLight, and a sunrise alarm clock.

Another thing I have to do is cultivate patience and a willingness (which is currently reluctant) to accept that this could be permanent. I may never have more energy than I have right now and I need to figure out how to be okay with that.

All that said, I have a favor to ask you, kind and gentle reader: if you have recovered from burnout, what worked for you? What did you try, read, watch, do to feel better? If you don’t mind, could you post a comment or send me an email (lifewholehearted@gmail.com) and let me know? One request: as I am in recovery for not one but three eating disorders, even if a diet or nutritional supplement worked for you, could you leave that part out? I have to be super careful about how I handle anything having to do with nourishing myself through food or supplements, so not referencing anything related to that would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. You are the best!

Day of Rest: On Being “Good”

Ani Difranco performing at Washington’s in Fort Collins on February 8th, (image courtesy of Carrie Lamanna)

Last night I went to see Ani Difranco perform. It was an amazing show, full of energy and power and heart. Her opening act, Jesca Hoop (who was also amazing), said that the first time she saw Ani perform was transformative. “I never saw a woman hold space like that.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it means to perform “woman.” We are told not to take up space, taught the exact opposite: to be quiet and small and supportive and pleasing to look at. We are taught to be a thing, an object rather that an actual person. Our personhood, our truth, our power is too messy, too wild, untrustworthy and unreliable, and we need to control it, hide it, smash it to bits if necessary.

I recently watched a documentary about Taylor Swift, another singer/songwriter/performer. To be honest, I don’t really listen to her music (although “Shake it Off” was super catchy). She seems pretty representative of what it means to be a white woman, a celebrity, so she’s not someone I typically look to for wisdom or even entertainment. However, I was very interested in what she had to say about “being good.” She talks in the documentary about how that was always her central purpose, her main focus and goal in life: to be seen as “good” and to be liked.

This is a particular neurosis of white women living under the Stockholm Syndrome that is white supremacy. The “goodness” of a white woman supports and enables white supremacy (and in turn the patriarchy), allows it to continue. White women are conditioned to accept all the ways we aren’t enough, aren’t to be trusted, need to be controlled, and it keeps us frozen in shame and unworthiness and silence, limits our action, our creativity, our innate wisdom. We perform and please and fawn and smash ourselves to bits to be “good.”

What’s weird is even when we start to wake up, become more aware, that performance of goodness stays with us. That pattern we learned is so deep that we continue to react and behave that way. Our response to our new awareness of things like white supremacy, patriarchy, diet culture, etc. is exactly the same: to be frozen by shame and unworthiness, to perform and fawn while inside smashing ourselves to bits. In this way, we still serve the status quo because we remain trapped, unable to act according to our deepest truths, our fundamental wisdom, our real power.

I realized recently, with the help of therapy, that the two core beliefs I was taught were: I cannot be trusted AND I’m responsible. Let me tell you, this is a real mindfuck. If I can’t be trusted, how can I possibly be responsible? If I am supposed to figure things out, fix them, make things right, how can I do that if I can’t trust myself? This confusion is further fed by the need to be “good,” the need to be liked. It’s a mess, keeps me frozen in inaction, anxiety and despair.

The remedy, the antidote is to drop the shame and honor our inherent wisdom, our truth, our power. Just know, there is not much in this culture that will truly support such a pursuit. There will be resistance that at times even turns to aggression. We will make mistakes and get it wrong. Standing in our truth and our power, taking up space goes against tradition, puts the current system at risk, and make us vulnerable. But ultimately, “good” is useless, violent even. Nothing will ever change if we keep trying so hard to be good.

Women like Ani Difranco show us the way. She writes her own songs, tells her own story, holds space, even though there will so many who don’t like her for it. Every performance by such an artist reminds me of the power of story, of art, of telling the truth. Art embodies our story, personal and yet universal in the way it represents what it means to be human. This art, these stories, these humans are essential, have always been the thing that keeps me from giving up, gives me some sense that maybe things are in fact workable, that joy and ease and love are possible. Yes things change and die but they also come alive and are solid, tangible, real. There is suffering but there is also something else, both empty and illuminated.

Day of Rest

Today in my Facebook memories, a post showed up from two years ago, a list of the reasons behind what I post and share. It was particularly interesting to me because I’ve been thinking a lot about the how and why of my social media use. I was surprised to see that how I explained what I was doing two years ago is still quite accurate today. Nothing’s really changed.

20 Reasons Why I Post/Share Things

1. Because I’m a teacher and thus compelled to share what I learn in the hope that it will be of benefit to others.

2. Because I’m outraged or horrified and need company with that so I don’t give up, run and hide, sink into despair or shrink in terror.

3. Because I want to make it clear what “side” I’m on.

4. To dare someone, anyone to disagree so I can practice my dialogue skills (which are weak, I must admit).

5. To instigate a dialogue because I’m unsure or confused.

6. So I can easily find the info later.

7. To curate a collection of things for my weekly “Something Good” list (so far there are 365 of them, the same number as the days in a FULL year).

8. Because I want you to like me, think I’m cool.

9. To feel like I’m doing something.

10. To cheer you up, encourage you, share joy.

11. To motivate, inspire you.

12. Because I’m bored.

13. Because I need attention.

14. Because I’m overwhelmed and need you to help me “hold this.”

15. Because I’m trying to find my people.

16. Because I think I should.

17. Because it’s so funny or cute and I think it might make you laugh or even cry.

18. Because I think it’s going to go viral and I want to be “first.”

19. Because I’m getting paid to (I’m in charge of the social media accounts where I work).

20. Because I haven’t in a while and I want you to know I’m still here.

Day of Rest

I taught yoga twice last week. Just like if I teach yoga near Thanksgiving, I’m compelled to theme my classes around gratitude, when I teach around New Year’s Day, I feel like I have to talk about intention and transformation. As much as we might try to insulate ourselves from  external demands, in particular those coming from entities trying to sell us something, it’s difficult to escape entirely. And the message right now, coming hard and fast, is “new year, new you.”

And yet, there is nothing wrong with you. Exactly as you are, you are basically good – wise and compassionate and powerful, whole and well. You are not a project or a problem. And still, we can’t help but feel the constant pressure to make more of ourselves. We see videos like this one from DDP Yoga (which is NOT yoga, btw, imho), and the transformation, the way the drama of it is distilled into a short burst is so compelling. We watch it and believe that if we just sign up for this program, the size and shape we desire is easily within our reach. But what the video really shows is ONE human’s determination, ONE person’s process and resulting success – and that has little to nothing to do with the program the video is trying to sell us, the fix it promotes.

We all have to find our own way. Our truth is never the big T truth for everyone, and similarly just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will be helpful to us. We are all on our own path. Certainly we can support and help each other, and there will be times when we share our path with others, have that in common, but ultimately we all must find ourselves, our own particular truth, our own way. As Buddhism refers to a middle path or middle way, but that middle is in a different place for every person, relative to our particular experience, and even then it is constantly shifting rather than a fixed point. It’s all a big experiment for each one of us.

Yoga as I understand and teach it isn’t about self-improvement. It isn’t about becoming something better or different, even though it sometimes unfortunately gets promoted as such. Yoga is about showing up with who we are and what is arising, having a sense of curiosity, cultivating an open heart and open mind, letting go of our agenda in order to meet what is, and meeting it with our innate wisdom and compassion. It’s about pealing away the layers of confusion. It’s not about putting our body in a specific shape but about being in our body, with ourselves, and becoming more and more authentically that. Through practice, we become more and more ourselves, and in this way we are on a path to wellness.

That said, yoga might not be your path. After years of doing traditional workouts, practicing from a place of self-improvement fueled by self-hate, I had to start over completely. I needed to find ways to move my body that felt good, that brought me joy. For me, that meant yoga, and also Pilates, aqua aerobics, swimming, and walking my dogs. It also includes things unrelated to moving as such, things like journaling and meditation, managing stress, healing trauma, getting enough water and sleep, and cultivating supportive and satisfying relationships and work. For you, it will be something else.

Soften towards yourself with compassion and trust your own innate wisdom. Let go of your agenda, turn away from external expectations, and tune into your intuition, your knowing, your longing. It is there that you will find the magic and the medicine, a kinder more sustainable middle path.

Day of Rest (NaBloPoMo Day 25)

In my Facebook memories today, there was a quote I’ve shared for the past two years in a row. It still rings so true to me. I reshared it on Facebook and wanted to do so here too. It’s a good reminder, as I said yesterday, that just because it’s the right thing to do doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors. ~Andrew Boyd

Day of Rest (NaBloPoMo Day Eleven)

“Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.”

~David Whyte, from “Rest: from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. © David Whyte & Many Rivers Press 2015

NaBloPoMo: Day Four (Day of Rest)

In artist Jessica Nichols‘s recent newsletter, she said “I learned two weeks ago that in Chinese medicine, fall is a season for grieving.” I feel this in the way nature shifts – the garden has died, the compost pile is working its magic on the flowers and food of summer gardens, and each day is the tiniest bit darker and shorter. This is also a time of year that I can’t help remembering the end of both Obi and Dexter’s lives, being in that space where any day could be their last, and still missing them so much all these years later. It’s also the official ramp up of the holiday season, one that I spend away from my people and their rituals, and that still feels strange, slightly off.

It’s a season that feels confusing in its conflict. On the one hand, culture is pushing us to speed up, to do more, consume more. Students return to school and another season of TV programs start, a time of new beginnings. It’s a season of multiple holidays and all the demands on our resources, energy and time that come with it. This year, there are elections too. And yet, there is nature calling us to slow down, showing us that there is wisdom and necessity in fallowness, in rest. It reminds us that we all will bloom and eventually die, it’s simply the nature of things.

As the wise Pema Chödrön reminds us, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”