I don't take breaks. I spend my mornings, afternoons, and evenings racing around like I'm competing in a track and field event. Get up – exercise (while reading materials for work) – get kids to school – work, work, work. I don't stop for more than two to three minutes for a meal – just to heat something up or throw together a salad. If I have a doctor's appointment or an infusion day, I bring my laptop and just keep going.
I pack my schedule like an overstuffed suitcase. I strive to be a master of efficiency, and I don't want to miss out on anything. Since I was diagnosed with MS, I'm even more aware of time slipping away. Who knows how long I'll be able to exercise, or get the kids to school, or work? I need to do everything now because I don't know how long now will last.
The problem, of course, is that I do miss out. All the details, the time to breathe, the time to be present with my friends and family. I am too busy racing to the next thing on my list.
I recently was introduced to the concept of PREcrastination. The term seems to be defined in different ways, but I discovered I am the type of precrastinator who puts off breaks and fun until all unpleasant and difficult tasks are accomplished. (And that happens when?) Although I pride myself on not procrastinating, I now realize that I am a skillful precrastinator.
But this weekend I took a break. I put my life on hold for three short days to escape with friends to Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of the great blessings of my life is that I have three friendships that have endured since about the time I learned to read. My friend Hannah – a fellow MS Warrior – and I were born four months apart and have been friends since before we could talk. My other two friends who joined us in Santa Fe, Rachel and Laura, were close friends with Hannah and me in elementary school. Our lives have taken different paths, and we had not all been together in 17 years.
We spent the BEST weekend together. Our hikes were long, but leisurely. We looked for rocks, noticed the light on the aspen trees and the lone bright yellow flower next to the path. We admired the stars, unencumbered by the light pollution of a big city. We packed in a lot – including visits to Meow Wolf (a crazy, interactive art exhibition) and a trip to the spa. I did have a seriously overstuffed backpack – unusually heavy with my new rock collection - to carry home.
I arrived back in Austin to a messy house, piles of laundry, unanswered email, stacks of regular mail. I needed to go grocery shopping and plan the week. But that break - and reconnection with my oldest friends – was so rejuvenating that the catch-up has been OK. I need to do it more often. I need to take shorter breaks during the day – to meditate or stretch or take a walk. I need to see friends more often, to disconnect from media and technology in order to connect with the people I love. Please join me in taking more breaks and share your experience below.