I took the day off yesterday.
I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel great about it. I detest asking for help because my Lizard Brain believes Not Doing All the Things is a clear and obvious sign of weakness and is, therefore, the very WORST activity in which I can (not) participate. But I’ve been working lately on a Grand Experiment I’ve creatively named It’s OK to Rest. I’m a firm believer that, if you repeat words to yourself enough times, you’ll begin to think they’re actually true. That’s why I thought I was stupid for so long — also ugly and fat, bless my heart — so I figure if I can use my Awesome Mind Powers for Monumentally Damaging Evil, then I can turn that poop pile around and use it for good.
My friend, Polly, has this incredible personal policy that blew my mind when I first observed it a few years ago. We work on Oregon Coast retreats together, and, as a result, get to spend significant chunks of time in each other’s company, so I’ve witnessed this first-hand on many occasions. I mean, she actually does this, and regularly. Possibly daily, friends. Polly takes a nap when she’s tired. 😳
If Polly’s tired at 9am, she lays down and rests which allows her to be kind, personable, and productive for the remainder of the day.
I admit, at first I was genuinely bewildered. A) I have always believed I am not a good napper. If I allow myself a nap — and I only nap under the most extreme circumstances, usually pneumonia or unmanageable jet lag — I completely crash for hours, and then I wake up with Nap Hangover. As in, I wake up slooooowwly, confused and groggy, and I’m generally unpleasant to be around. And B) IF naps are allowed in my world, they are DEFINITELY prohibited shortly after waking for the day. There are strict napping rules. Customs which must be observed. Taboos not to be broken. I’m very much the Dowager Countess about the whole thing: there are things that are simply Not Done.
Or I was Violet Crawley about the whole thing until I saw the most beautifully flagrant breaking of the nap rules, after which I was all, “I WANT IN.”
Isn’t it funny the ways we harness and hamper ourselves? Isn’t it ridiculous how we put in place illogical protocols that are more harmful than helpful? Isn’t it a mystery that our ingrained habits and “Must Do’s” are cloaked in invisibility, making malignant mischief, until we get a peek behind the curtain and suddenly their machinations are made clear?
I woke up yesterday morning, took my kids to school, and drank coffee in a failed attempt to convince myself I wasn’t exhausted after a rather sleepless night, didn’t have a cold worsening with every hacking cough, and certainly was able to manage my usual work schedule. I found myself, instead, at my desk slumped all the way over in my chair. Aching. Drained. Lethargic. Weary. AND, because I’m a special treat, telling myself I needed to get my ass in gear, stop being lazy, and tackle my endless To Do list.
That’s when I started to laugh. I was physically unable to sit upright AND beating myself up for failing to accomplish more. Good grief. With friends like me, who needs enemies… am I right?? It suddenly struck me how deeply, INCREDIBLY absurd I was being. And how trapped I was, assuming I had no other options.
So I rolled my eyes HARD at myself, and I put myself to bed. As though it actually, really, truly, might be OK to rest. EVEN at 9am. EVEN when there are Things That Must Be Done. EVEN when my brain is an asshole about it. EVEN though it might mean Asking for Help.
I know; I can hardly believe it, either.
Know what else? I’m starting to suspect that if I let myself rest regularly — if I don’t wait until I’m literally limp with exhaustion — if I maybe try napping when I start to feel tired instead of as a last-ditch, emergency-level, nuclear-code, CALLING ALL RESPONDERS event, I might mitigate the crash. I might not be bad at napping. I might not get Nap Hangovers. I might be able to take brief rests without a full shut-down/restart protocol. Like — and I know this is crazy, but I’m going to say it anyway — bodies might need REGULAR CARE and Maintenance, and operators who Pay Attention and Heed Warning Lights. I mean, it’s just a concept at this point, but maybe, right?
In conclusion, new plan: It’s OK to Rest.
I’ve decided I’m going to give it a shot. Starting yesterday. I’ll let you know how it goes.
With love (and waving in the dark,)
P.S. Over at Cairns Farm, we’re super excited to announce our Spring 2019 Workshop series — 26 introductory-level classes for fun, for community building, for rest, for restoring our hearts and minds. We’re calling it a TRYathlon because it will allow us to try new things in 3 “event” categories — Make, Taste, and Tend. We’re currently selling all-access passes (only 15 people per class, so spaces are limited), and will open remaining spots very soon. For more info and to register, you can visit us on the Cairns Farm workshops page. I’m going to be at many of these (and teaching a few… and a few are at my house), and I’d LOVE to see you.
P.P.S. We’ve also updates the Retreats page here on this site with some new info on our 2020 Oregon Coast retreat dates .
P.P.P.S. ALSO-also, Cairns Farm will be posting information in the next few weeks on additional adventures in which you may want to participate… including international youth trips (we’re coming to you, London, in October!) AND a weekend kayak camping trip in June. I get to go on all of them, and I’m over the moon. If you can’t wait for details because you want to join me and need to know STAT, email me at info@CairnsFarm.com, and I’ll give you the inside scoop. Just put “I NEED TO KNOW NOW, BETH” in the subject line. 😉
P.P.P.P.S. This is our new foster dog, Theo.
He has nothing to do with the rest of this post, except he’s a really good napper, so, since Polly has thusfar refused to move in with me an act as my Visual Napping Aid, Theo’s going to have to step up.
P.P.P.P.P.S. My kids call Theo “Humper Dumper” because he was VERY nervous his first night with us and, as a result, took a dump on the kitchen floor and humped a few couch cushions. Vigorously. And with great enthusiasm.
He’s calm now, and we’ve had no further incidents, but I’m afraid the name might stick.
He seems fine with his choices, though, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Whatever. You do you, Humper Dumper. Solidarity, kid.
8 responses to “New Plan: It’s OK to Rest”
If you are on Instagram, you should consider following a lovely page called The Nap Ministry.
It’s funny because I’m usually so much better at resting when I need to, but today I’m exhausted and powering through. And then I read this. Now I wish I’d taken a nap earlier instead of being basically useless since I haven’t accomplished what I need to do.
Thanks for sharing yourself with us, Beth. There’s lots of research out there about how well-rested parents have more emotional reserves to raise children with positive parenting strategies. So, I like to tell parents I talk to that, when you need to rest, you’re doing it for yourself, but also for your children.
Today I left work early. I had a splitting headache that was not responding to medicine. I waited a bit longer to go home than I should have because I was wrestling with giving myself the chance to rest. Finally, I thought, “I could stay and force myself to slog through the last few hours only to arrive home completely wiped out and ruined for the evening. Or I could go home now and rest for a while and maybe feel well enough to have a nice evening and a good night of sleep and give it another go at work tomorrow.”
And the second option just sounded so logical AND kind to myself, that I chose it. And I doubted myself on the way out of the building, but I kept walking. And now, after two hours of lying down, I might be ready to get up. We’ll see.
I’ve been doing this for years. I’m convinced it is the reason I almost never get sick. When I feel bad I lie down. That’s basically it.
Theo is magnificent. He’s got the expression on his face that says: “Go ahead and turn your back on me! First chance I get I’m going to be all over those couch cushions!!! You only think your furniture is safe!!!”.
I appreciate your topic on the need for rest. I’m currently in the process of PT for some nuisance conditions. I grew up with the strong message one must “power through” pain, injury and all other obstacles in life. The PT working with me has been a great help in reconnecting me with the understanding of the need for rest being as important as the need for hard work. Blessings to you and your beautiful family…(Both two and four legged members.). Be well.
Theo cracks me up. He seems to be certified in accepting himself for who he is, quite the partner you have. So many times we must think “if this were my bff telling me this, what would I say to THEM” then say it to yourself. Be your own bff, whether it’s resting or saying ‘no’ or doing something.
And I did not snort laugh at Theo’s antics. With great enthusiasm. Beth, you are truly the BEST!
Isn’t it crazy that it takes our bodies shutting down on us to remind ourselves that self care is as vital as breathing? I’m a teacher and being absent is way more work than showing up feeling not-quite-right, so I did that for two weeks. The day before my spring break started, my body called it quits. After getting over the guilt of calling in the day before break and letting go of control (hahaha), I sleptfor most of 48 hrs. I’m still not-quite-right, but it’s okay to rest. Right? Right!
Thanks for the reminder. My your rest lead to a more active nap life.