|Learning better habits from my old chow pup, Guinnez|
Busy day ahead, three interviews to do, but, as always, I begin it with a walk to the garden, harvesting seven tomatoes today and basil for a lunch salad, then circle around to the pond, where, as always, I begin my day by taking a moment to be fully aware of my many blessings ... thank You.
The three interviews this afternoon: recording an author interview with George Dila at WMUK radio; interviewing the instructor of the Writing Center at Kalamazoo College for a September college newsletter; and finishing the day at a young artist's studio to talk about his sculpture in preparation for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids this fall. I won't be paid for these stories until I write and submit them, but I feel richer already.
Yesterday? I couldn't be bothered.
Day before? Busy as heck. A delightful day of checking in with old friends and colleagues in Grand Rapids, where I worked for almost five years, but now met with various colleagues as a free agent, collecting story assignments. It did my writer's heart good to tap into long-acccumulated experience and work alongside people I enjoy and respect. A lunch hour meeting at another science research institute, portfolio in hand, then yet another meeting with a wonderfully creative ad agency in town, and tying it all up with a bow at day's end by having drinks and swapping war stories with a friend at a new local pub, Brewery Vivant.
So what happened to yesterday? I had had an interview scheduled at Z Acres with an author in preparation for the fall issue of The Smoking Poet, but she called to postpone: family health crisis. My day was suddenly clear on the calendar.
Free time is always a gift. I could have done a thousand things. I won't even begin to list them all here. Instead ... I napped.
In the morning, I slept in. I padded around the kitchen in late mid-morning and brewed coffee, steeping it slowly in a French press, sat down on the couch, cat leaning against me in a steady purr, sipped and read. I took a slow stroll around the garden. Sat by the pond, watching fish surface, tiny mouths forming circles as they nabbed bugs and caused circles of ripples to crisscross across the surface of the water.
And then I napped. No cat nap, this. I napped for nearly two hours.
When my eyes slit open, I thought about napping longer. I peeked with one eye out the window, the afternoon in full sunny blaze. A pang of guilt traveled through me. A thousand things I could be doing ...
I went back to sleep.
I woke wondering what had come over me. My calendar was full enough with approaching deadlines, though none immediate. Just ... pressing. Was I ill? Struck with a bout of laziness?
I thought of my previous days. What, days? Years! Decades of working in corporate offices, buzzing away Monday through Friday and sometimes beyond that. On constant duty. And then the commutes. The last five years I was commuting 110-mile round trips daily, rain or sun or snow. I never missed a deadline. Tried to be a few minutes early for meetings. So what was with this sudden malaise?
Still on my back, on the couch, I pondered. What this felt like was a process of healing. Yes, quite that, my body, mind and spirit patching themselves up whole again. We in the United States tend to be a nation of the sleep deprived, working more hours than most any nation on the globe. We have long been blurring, then losing, the boundary lines between work and ... LIFE. From balance, to integration, to one foggy blur of always on duty, never unplugged, and our own health and the soundness of our families suffering in the process.
Something had to give. I had forgotten to schedule myself a vacation when I began Z Word, LLC. Finishing a four-month contract job, I immediately switched over to the busy world of the self-employed, relishing the process, but once again filling my calendar to busting.
There was an entire lifestyle I was leaving behind. I'd only used my alarm clock once since I had started my new life as a free agent, when I had a particularly early meeting with a client. The first few days, I kept looking over my shoulder, I didn't quite know for what .... my Outlook calendar breathing down my neck? A powerful director glaring at me to question why I was working in my sweats? Why I was still home exactly? Did I have a doctor's note?
All of that. It's hard to let go of what we have known all our adult lives. I was, had been, a part of the rat race, and even though many oh many times I quite loved what I was doing (after all, in great measure, I am doing the same thing still, only the powerful director watching me closely is ME), it was a sometimes unhealthy if not irrational pace that would never give. Or, as a former boss recently said to me as I sat in his office listing story assignments now in my new Z Word role, "You have the time now to be creative." And he was right. I could step back and see what others could not, too busy chasing the next thing while still being hounded by the last.
The difference in being a free agent is that I can draw my own boundaries. This much and no more. I could actually bring back balance, that precious thing that keeps us healthy in body, mind and spirit ... and allows breathing room for creative and innovative ideas to be born.
I went back to sleep. Naps are nice. My whole self needed rest. My gears needed to stop turning for a while. My spirit needed to destress. My entire being needed to detoxify, repair itself, gather back strength. My mind needed to understand this new lifestyle, embrace it, and allow myself to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy my work. My new director, me, needed to learn to take the occasional nap.