On Breaking

angel

Since mid December I’ve slowly eased into taking a break from being online and from my work. It was a must. If I didn’t take a break, I was going to break.

2014 was the year my creativity died. It was ugly. Good and wonderful things happened, but my time filled up and I didn’t protect my margin. I should have taken routine breaks and since I didn’t I had major, major burnout which now requires major, major break-ing. I’ll ease back into work just as slowly, but I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve been doing, not because this is a recipe for taking a break or getting one’s creativity back, but the opposite, I’m kind of amazed at the types of things I find relaxing:

 

  • watching cats sleep
  • staring at the fire in the wood stove in my office for an hour (it has a window! note to self: never get a wood stove without a window!)
  • putting puzzles together (I did the best one twice!) I’ve done over 10 puzzles in the past month
  • cooking delicious meals
  • taking baths
  • having dirty hair for too long
  • reading lots of books, finishing four so far
  • cleaning  (I’m crazy and this is fun for me–but ONLY if I’m alone in the house and I have the option NOT to clean, otherwise it’s simply torture)
  • quieting the house
  • decluttering (I’m giving it all away)
  • getting rid of clothes I don’t wear (even if I love them) or clothes I don’t love (even if I wear them)
  • getting rid of decor that doesn’t spark joy (thanks for that push Marie Kondo)
  • being okay with the undone
  • not returning texts (my apologies to the good people of the world)
  • not answering my phone (this is actually normal for me// #introvertsunite)
  • not returning emails in a timely manner (my apologies to the real grown ups of the world)
  • watching my favorite shows (let’s hear it for The Legend of Mick Dodge and Alaska the Last Frontier :disclaimer, I’m a boy mom)
  • giving myself permission to say no, yes and nevermind
  • eating more real food and less crap in general, no rules here, nothing strict, I just want to be mindful of what goes in
  • paying attention to if I’m cold, and when I am, making changes so I can be warm

 

flora

 

I’m so glad I’m finally taking a real break. I need lots of margin in my life. Not just for margin’s sake, but because unless I have margin, I create junk, I have no energy for being intentional with other people, and everything I do seems to take twice as long. My work depends on me protecting my margin–it’s basically part of my job description.

I’d love to hear what quirky thing relax you. I hope you take the time to evaluate your creative side, and if it’s suffering, don’t do what I did and take a year to realize how much it affects you and the work you are called to do– squelching creativity can affect every part of our life.

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you, I feel like I’ve been given permission to not answer the phone, texts, and e-mail without feeling so guilty.

  2. You must watch the Gentle Whisperer on You Tube, don’t tell anyone but sometimes I listen to it in the background! If you like a good ‘head relaxer’ this is it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz505m7_sPU

  3. I love to make soup to relax. I know that sounds weird-but there’s something very calming about the chopping, the simmering, and it doesn’t have to be exact. And it can sit on the stovetop all afternoon doing its thing-there’s not a definite “come downstairs right now and eat before it gets dried out/cold/funky” time. I also on a regular basis do a guided meditation (otherwise if I try and do it on my own my brain just fill not stop reminding me of the million things I need to do). I just youtube it, and for some reason I like the ones where the people doing the guiding have English accents. I have no idea why that is, but I find it soothing.

  4. Tina M Skiles Gilbert says:

    I *adore* bathtime! With bubbles. Light a candle. Maybe have a li’l wine; sometimes tea sounds better… Read a book. Take my time just to Be. Ahhhh!
    I also love the sounds of falling rain, kitty purrs, worship songs or classical music. And when I *must* get out of the house, I love just driving, looking at the scenery. Or getting to a place where I can be by the water, listen to the birds and breezes, and walk.

  5. So beautiful. I’m slowly learning how to catch myself before I reach the breaking point. But sometimes in life it is unavoidable. <3 Prayers for renewed purpose.

  6. New reader here. LOVE your list. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of purging in your life of bad stuff in general. Good for you. It’s amazing how much crap people seem to accumulate and never want to get rid of. It sounds like you’re off to a very healthy start! ♥

  7. I love the natural break that comes at the beginning of a new year. I’m excited and scared to live by my word of the year, “REST.” I’m an over-doer by nature so this will be a challenge! This creativity workshop sounds like a great place to start, though!
    Anna

  8. I have taken a bit of a break since Christmas, too, and actually read A book! A whole one, not just skimmer. It was WONderful. Accomplishing something that can’t be undone in the next few minutes is what relaxes me, like quilting or baking a batch of something big enough to last at least until tomorrow… As much as I would love one, we don’t have a fireplace to watch and snuggle in front of, so I like to watch the fish in our tank.
    I SO want to organize my house and get rid of things, and that’s at the top of my list. I want to love and arrange my home in the most organized, welcoming, and attractive way, so was looking at ordering your book yesterday. So thrilled for you to see it is #1 in interior design books on Amazon. Congratulations!

  9. If anyone deserves a break, you do! For the first time in 7 years, I am not pregnant or nursing a baby, and I have 1 morning a week to myself. Trying to make sure I save some of that time for staring out the window!

  10. Silence is the only thing that renews me. Now my children are older I’m getting some silence and it’s a sanity saver.

    Mary

  11. I love your list – I’ve done so many of the same things right after 12/25 … slowly getting my creativity back. So good to purge … and think about the things that matter. Friendships, connection, intention, hospitality, art. I even started playing Words with Friends again cuz I love Scrabble. Anyway, I love this post and love YOU, girl. Happy New Year!

  12. Hey Myquillyn, you are the first blogger I subscribed to. It was love at first sight because of the tassels. My mother, sister and I adored tassels and used them everywhere. The concept of a home that didn’t have to be perfect touched me because mine never was. Anyway, I just wanted to say to you I’m so glad you are taking a respite. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t, and after caring for my sister until she died from cancer I did break and am just now coming back to normal. I literally woke up on my sixtieth birthday and realized I had spent my entire life caring for everyone but myself. We women have a tendency to expend ourselves beyond our capabilities and we pay a high price for it. Remember that when you start letting the guilt creep back in , which it always does. Just know that is important for you to care for yourself. Our Jesus never meant for us to sacrifice our own well being. We cannot be Him in this world when we do. Your sister in Christ, Beth

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is a tricky balancing bit. I hope you keep writing about this as the year progresses.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  14. Would love to hear what you have been reading. Enjoy your time to breathe. We all need it.

  15. Thank you! I’ve been struggling after the Christmas insanity ended to figure out my next step and begin the business of writing. But finding the inspiration has been tough! I love that even a seasoned, published writer like you struggles. My down time–watching TV, reading good books (need to find a new one), being creative, getting up the umph to paint my new house’s interior. That last one takes a running start but leaves me feeling revitalized when I’m done.

  16. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been the same as you regarding cleaning. I love cleaning randomly and solitary cleaning. I hate doing it any other way. I used to deep clean my mother’s kitchen (a major task) when the house was empty. I didn’t want her to notice when she got home. I just wanted to do it.

  17. There is something quiet and still about the short cold days of the new year that just make it natural to draw away from the world and regroup. Me, I spend a lot of time playing my guitar, not rehearsing or perfecting, but just following my nose and playing and singing whatever strikes my fancy.

  18. Funny. I broke in December too due to lack of margin in my schedule. Mine was more margin for error (like recovering from sickness and a busy schedule). This is the stuff that gets my back on my groove.
    Going to the library by myself
    Decuttering
    Starting an old favorite book just anywhere in the middle and only reading as much as I feel like.
    Reading for new knowledge and inspiration
    Staying off the computer
    Getting the dishes done
    Reading and taking naps with my littles
    Planning easy meals
    Coming up with a schedule
    Resting, but being diligent when I need to work
    Giving time with God a priority
    All this stuff has gotten my back my groove, and made me feel like my house in my slave and not the other way around, and I’ve been finding extra time to do little projects around the house that I have wanted to do for a while, but felt like were beyond my reach. Your book has been a major inspiration in all this. I don’t know many friends I have told to get a copy. Thx!

  19. Amen. All about emptying out. A quirky thing that relaxes me is playing my favorite music ridicously loud in the car when I’m on my way to Target by myself and singing along in my imperfect voice. (Love your book and blog by the way, it’s been a lifesaver in our new apartment.)

  20. I loved this post, Myquillyn. You inspire me in all the right ways! Cheers to break-ing! Xoxo

  21. “unless I have margin, I create junk”
    So true for all of us even if we aren’t creatives by vocation or calling. We’re all creating something in our lives and if we don’t take care of oursleves, it will be a mess that we create.

  22. What you said at the end struck me-that without margin you create junk. I’m working through the Priscilla Shirer study on Sabbath right now (really excellent). She drew the comparison with the Israelites collecting manna. They were told to collect just enough for each day, and on the sixth day they would receive a double portion so that they could rest on the seventh. She said that when her creativity is gone, it’s because she’s been hoarding- not allowing margin in her life. I’ve been thinking about that concept since I heard it, and your statement struck me the same way. Thanks for sharing your process of taking a break-it’s encouraging.

  23. I was feeling like I might have written this myself…until I got to the cleaning as a release part! Been reading, and puzzling, and Netflix binging and generally not answering the phone here too….all of 2015. And you know what? I think I need a couple more weeks of it. Here is to rest and renewal!

  24. I love how this gives us the “permission” we should’ve never needed to do what we all already do (check out) but then later feel guilty about. I can relate to much of what you said. And my way? watching two squirrels on the lawn fight over a nut, see the winner rise to the top, head up a tree to enjoy his loot…and I still find a way to spot him and watch through the meal.

  25. I have weekly doctor visits, but instead of picking the kids up from grandma’s immediately after, sometimes I’ll take a detour to Starbucks and splurge on myself. I’m finding that it’s good for me to ignore my inner guilt trip (“don’t inconvenience your MIL longer than is needed!” and “that drink costs 4 whole dollars!”) and do something for me. I find I’m a nicer person after I’ve been nice to myself, which is a nice break for everyone.

  26. Just found your book at Half Price Books in Dallas. The cover isn’t perfect but I’m learning that it is okay :) Checking out your website and I love it! I went through a very stressful time with a sick spouse. In the midst of all the craziness, baseball was my refuge. I would make myself sit down and watch an entire MLB baseball game on TV. The Texas Rangers are my hometown favorite but I enjoyed a few Cubs games too. Those three hours spent focusing only on the game cleared my head and gave me a reprieve from my hectic exhausting life.

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