A couple of years ago, a really good friend and I were on parallel paths. Only my path was going one way and her’s was going the other. She was coming out of a time of struggle and burnout, and I was headed deep into the heart of ‘ugly-ville’. I had been trying to ignore stress and tension and all the tough stuff for far too long, and it was finally taking over my soul. Living on different continents and not having lots of connection at the time, I didn’t know that she was recovering from the exact issues I was now battling. I thank God that through a random set of circumstances and meetings, we reconnected and I was privy to her wise teaching via experience.
She began to share with me about her practice of incorporating life-giving rhythms back in to her world. She shared articles she had been studying and books she had been reading. She was vulnerable with me and shared her struggles over the past months, about the difficulties and health issues and how stress and pressure and tension had robbed her of energy and joy. I went to a workshop where she taught other cross-cultural workers about what life-giving rhythms are and how they had restored her to a form or emotional and mental health that she has lost.
I knew that I needed to do something. I was lost and hurting and worn out. So, what did I have to lose?
I picked up some of those articles and books. I read everything that my friend wrote or blogged. I began to try to figure out what gives me life and how I could find ways to get back in to a rhthym of having joy and beauty in my life instead of always feeling stressed and always being in a state of emptiness from giving and teaching and working and caring for others. Truth be told, I wasn’t doing any of those things well, because I was so empty and I had nothing to give any more. The old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy”… in my case, all work and no play makes me dead and lifeless and actually physically injured and sick.
I have come out the other side of that time of burnout and emptiness. It took almost a year to recover and get back into rhythms that work for me. I now have things in place that help me restore my soul. Some things I do daily, some weekly, some less frequently. But I do them. And I’m conscious of the fact that they are important to my own emotional well-being and my own soul… they help me center myself and relax and smile. When they are absent, I feel them and it starts to show in my attitude and my physical stress levels. I need these things in my life.
So, here are a few of them…