Deep Sighs

I’ve been enjoying some time away from work, and my brain can’t quite figure out how to function without the stress of the daily grind. Should I start measuring my moles? When was the last time we cleaned the baseboards? I’ve got solutions in search of problems. I’ve got issues. Who doesn’t?

As I work to calm my mind and stay in the present moment, I find little things that both humor me and peak my curiosity. I’ve been trying to step away from the computer, crawl under a weighted blanket, and read a PAPERBACK book. Emphasis on the paper part of that. I’ve needed time away from the computer. Who can relate?

As I step away from all of the screens in my home, the big screen (tv), the middle screen (my computer), and the little screen…you guessed it, my phone, I’ve started to notice the world around me more. The world of our home. I can hear church bells ring on the hour, and I can hear the rain dancing on our rooftop as I write this.

I recently took notice of our new little cat, Bumper, while I was curled up on the couch, trying to get into that book I was telling you about. As he climbed into my lap and laid down, he took a long, deep sigh. I’ve never seen a cat sigh before. I don’t know why, but this humored me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

At first, I thought, “What could you possibly have to be stressed about, little dude?” Then, it dawned on me. He was working on getting his body calmed down, so he could take a brief cat nap.

Later that night, when we put our heads on our pillows for the night, just as the lights were going off, we heard him running throughout the house. Up and down the stairs he went. He raced back into our room and thundered across our bellies (ouch…) and back out to the hallways where he looked for a cat to chase. “What in the world…” we wondered.

After 5-7 minutes of this circus act, things got very still and quiet, and we all dozed off for the night. I think Bumper was getting himself tired, so he could rest peacefully on house sleep schedule.

My world is small right now, so forgive me for a consecutive cat post.

As I sit back and reflect on it, animals don’t know how to not be in the moment. They don’t know how to not listen to what their bodies need. When they are thirsty, they drink water. When they are tired, they nap. When they want to relax, they sigh. They don’t consciously make these decisions, they just go where their body tells them to go.

For many of us, compartmentalization has been a survival technique. When it feels impossible to push forward in a feeling, we turn that feeling off, and we keep going. If we have a day full of zoom meetings, we ignore hunger cues and thirst cues, and we convince ourselves we aren’t hungry or thirsty. We ignore how tired we are. It can get to the point where someone will ask us how we are doing, and we legitimately don’t know. We are so far from our emotions and how our bodies feel, we simply don’t know. We are vessel for every day doings. Get up, work, take care of others, check items off our to-do lists…

We deserve big sighs. We deserve plenty of water, nourishing food, and restful sleep. We deserve to feel our feelings and a safe space to not be OK. Because we are alive. We are humans having a deeply human experience. We aren’t machines. We are robots. We don’t get gold stars for powering through every day. There are no busy badges.

“When everything is important, nothing is.” – Patrick Lencioni

Every email we receive isn’t urgent. Every task does not bear equal weight. We must learn to prioritize both our work and our energy.

Breaks don’t have to scheduled a few times a year. Breaks can be built into our daily life and in fact, I believe this approach would lead to higher performance levels. I’m writing this for myself and sharing it with you with the hopes that it might support you. I’m still trying to figure it out. Might be trying forever and that’s OK.

Play is not just for children. Play is part of our work. Do the puzzle. Sing the song. Bake the cookies. Watch the show. Take the bath. Enjoy the walk. Do nothing if you want.

Do something every day that brings you joy. And do it guilt-free. Do it well-rested and well-hydrated. Do it with a fully belly and plenty of deep sighs.

“You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

This year, what if we all became our own advocates? What if we were ridiculously in charge of our energy and well-being? I think our work would change. I think our work would become more inspired, more emphathetic, more colorful, more bold, more meaningful.

The world can change if we change.

We have the power to change. We have the time to change. We just may need to rethink how we are spending our time.

Decide and commit. Even for merely 30 days. And watch what happens.

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