Around the middle of last week, I looked at the calendar and had a startling realization. Today would be my regular blog-posting day, and not only did I not have a post written, I could not see enough uncommitted time in the intervening days to get one written.
We were about to leave town for a book signing in Detroit, followed by a Michigan Nature Association dinner in East Lansing the next day, followed by a family birthday party in Northville the day after that. Then back home to Newaygo, where yoga class, a book club appearance, a medical appointment, and the library book sale setup all crowded into the next few days.
There just wasn’t time to write and set up a post.
Still, I didn’t want to break my commitment to post on HeartWood every first and third Wednesday. So I started scrambling and scheming. I could dig out a post I’d started a year or so ago but had set aside and never finished. Yeah, that’s what I would do.
I found the post and the notes and images I needed to finish it, loaded everything onto a flash drive, and figured I’d do the work on our laptop in the downtime between the weekend events.
Great plan. Until . . . the night of the first event when—thanks to adrenaline, an unfamiliar bed, and leg cramps from the super-stylish but brutal shoes I’d worn that evening—I got almost no sleep and woke up the next morning in a fog so deep there was no way I could write anything coherent. Now that I had the time, I didn’t have the brain power.
I needed to rest. I knew that. But my first impulse was to start scrambling and scheming again. I could power nap and then, if I was really efficient, still get the blog post done.
Just one problem: Tired as I was, I could not fall asleep for a nap. That’s when I remembered a recent conversation with a friend who’s trying to break the habit of cramming too much into her schedule. She told me she’s cutting back on commitments and learning to rest.
That’s when I knew that was what I needed to do, too. Just rest.
Just then, another memory came to me: a blog post I’d written last year, when I was in a similar period of overload and had the radical idea of taking a time out.
“As soon as I had that thought, the space around me opened up,” I wrote. “My breathing slowed. I felt like I could float on air.
“Such a simple solution, just stepping back and saying, ‘Whoa, there.’ Yet it's crazily easy to forget that it's an option—that when things get too hectic, maybe they don't need to be. Maybe there are things that don't have to be done, or that don't have to be done quite the way you thought they did.”
I re-read those words and thought, “Who was the wise person who wrote this? Why am I not following her advice?”
Well, now I am. I’ve given myself permission to a take time out instead of scrambling. That other post I was going to power through and finish for today? It’ll still get done, but in a week when I can give it the time and attention it deserves.
Meanwhile, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shut off the computer and give it and my brain and body a rest.
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.