It was a long work shift on Saturday night. A 10 1/2 hour long shift that ended just before 2am. By the time I got to my car, drove home and was actually in bed it was around 2:30am. By the time I actually fell asleep it was probably closer to 4am. And even then I tossed and turned all night which made it even more frustrating because I knew I was exhausted and just wished upon all things holy that I would fall into a deep sleep. No dice.
But, even in all of my utter exhaustion, I still set my alarm for 6am and miraculously somehow managed to peel myself up out of bed to go to the gym. Why? Because I’m a crazy person? Looking back in retrospect the answer would be a resounding, yup! My train of thought was, because I hadn’t gone to the gym Saturday morning that I needed to make up for that now. Of all mornings. On less than 3 hours of sleep. “Why didn’t you just sleep in and go later on that day?” you may ask. Another great question! The answer to that is because I go to church and the service starts at 10:30am so in order to still get in a work out AND make it for church I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 6am. Which normally would have been ok if I hadn’t just worked until the wee hours of the morning and gotten proper sleep like a normal person.
And the craziness doesn’t stop there. I still made it to church. Practically a walking zombie at this point but my “blessed ass-urance” was in that seat. And while I love my church family, if I’m being completely honest, I barely heard a word the preacher was saying. The only thing that was going through my mind the entire time was “hurry up so I can go home and sleep!” as I shifted in my seat every few minutes to keep myself from zoning out. I’ve never felt so relieved about a church service being over in my entire life as I did that Sunday morning. I made a bee line for the door, hoping nobody would stop and try to have a conversation with me (I wasn’t exactly little miss sunshine that morning) I hopped in my car and tore out of the driveway.
Before going home, I had errands to run. I had to go to the bank and pay a bill. I had to get groceries and I had a blog to write for this week so I stopped off at Starbucks for my weekly Venti Frap. (I always drink Starbucks when I’m going to write) By the time I finally got home, put my groceries away, took a few sips of my frap, I noticed all of the things that needed to be done around the house. I then proceeded to do 3 loads of laundry, the dishes, swept the floor and wiped down all the mirrors in the house. I even washed the balcony doors, inside and out. By the time evening came, I could feel myself starting to break down. I had the sniffles, coughing, sneezing, achy muscles and cold sweats. I knew I had to work the next evening and needed an extra good sleep to make up for the lack of sleep I was currently riding on. I needed to kick this colds butt that seemed to wanna creep in so I went up stairs to my parents place and took the strongest medicine I could find in their cabinet. (Something I try not to do unless it’s absolutely necessary.)
It was rough trying to sleep at first but the medicine eventually knocked me out and I dozed off and didn’t wake up the next day till about 11:30am! Which NEVER happens. I never sleep in that late. I actually don’t like sleeping the day away. Makes me feel like I just wasted an entire morning. But when I woke up I still felt sick. Still congested, still sneezing, coughing, chills etc. Fat lotta good that medicine did me. I made the executive decision to call into work and say that I wasn’t able to make it in. I had clearly done this to myself and now my body clearly needed to just simply rest.
Since I had woken up around the lunch hour I decided to take the time to make myself a delectable assortment of goodies as I danced around the kitchen to some classic Dean Martin. (Yes I dance to music in my kitchen while I cook, doesn’t everybody?!) I watched a movie I hadn’t seen in awhile, I finished up some writing I had previously started and I started reading a new book. I recorded a new song. I even painted my toes and had a nice hot bubble bath. Why? Because I needed it. I took the day to not only recover but to do things that I enjoy. To write, to read, to dance, to eat a nice meal. (To write this blog.)
I had ran myself ragged because I thought i was being productive. When really I was doing more harm than good. Yes there were certain things that “had” to be done, paying a bill, getting groceries etc. But there were other things that I probably should have said no to so that I could take care of myself better.
I love going to the gym. I love how it makes me feel, I love getting stronger. I love seeing the results. But that particular morning I should have said no and gotten my rest instead. That would have been the healthier more productive thing to do. I still sometimes struggle with the idea that if I miss a day or even 2-3 days at the gym that I’ll somehow lose what I’ve gained or that I’m going to get out of shape. Which is a total lie!
I love going to my church. I love my church family. But on that particular morning it honestly would have been better for me to stay at home and get a proper amount of sleep in. I was so exhausted that even though I was there physically, my mind and my heart was somewhere else and I couldn’t even sit still enough to focus. I simply checked it off my “to-do list” because I felt obligated to be there. I might have been in the building but I wasn’t hearing what was being said. Which made me feel even more guilty.
I love having a clean home, but that day it shouldn’t have been the priority. Sometimes the dishes can wait. The balcony door/windows definitely could have waited. At the end of the day I “felt” productive and perhaps on the outside that’s what it looked like. I did accomplish a lot but it was just “busy-ness” disguised as being productive. All I ended up doing was running myself into the ground and at the end of the day my body finally caught up and said “no more”. Catching myself a cold and forcing me to finally rest and do nothing.
Dolce far niente. An Italian phrase for “the sweetness of doing nothing”. I learned it from one of my favourite movies years ago and it has always stuck with me.
We as a society have forgotten the art of taking a step back and just resting. Saying no to this or that and enjoying a moment. Preventing the burnout before the burnout takes over. We think that just because we have checked off a grand “to do list” that we have accomplished something. And a lot of times that is the case. However, other times the price to that to do list is us coming to the end of our rope and having nothing left to give.
Giving ourselves permission to say “no” is one of the greatest gifts. The dishes can wait a little longer while you go and work on your passion project. You know, that thing that gets you all fired up on the inside! The kids are asleep? Great! Now is not the time to fold laundry. It is however the perfect time to go soak in a nice hot bath or take a much needed, much deserved, long over due nap! You’ve been on your feet all day at work and are utterly exhausted; time to cook a full meal for the entire family right? Nope! Here’s a better idea. Order your favourite take out, get in your comfy clothes and cuddle up for a movie night. Or even if you’re single and you have no one waiting for you at home, take out and movie cuddles are still amazing! No one to fight with over which movie to watch or who’s getting the last spring roll! I guarantee you’ll be a much better version of yourself if you just take the time to know the difference between true productivity and just being busy.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more Dolce Far Niente-ing to do! (aka; nursing myself back to health) But don’t let me cramp your style! Go and enjoy your own sweet moments. I’m sure you can think of something. Something that calms you, revitalizes you, recharges your batteries, excites you! Happy Dolce Far Niente-ing!