I suppose I could use the holidays as an excuse, but I had never planned to take this Friday off. So I apologize. I’m trying to get this thing going here. Hopefully if you enjoyed the first edition of this, you will like this one as well.
I recently had a video call with a friend that I made almost by accident on the internet. I’ll tell you more about the friend later, because I didn’t tell him that I would reference our conversation here. However, our first live conversation across a few miles lead to a very fluid and rewarding conversation. It was something he and I had tried to schedule for months. And it was mostly spontaneous with no agenda. We had a lot in common despite us having very different backgrounds. He gave a lot of tips for what I expressed interest in doing as far as mindfulness work and finding a local teacher. I have a lot of homework to do that will only lead to more rewards in the future.
I also talked a lot with my younger sister lately. She has been my best friend, mentor, coach, accountability partner, and personal search engine all from her own free will. She knows that 2017 has been hard for me, and she knows that I’m stalling on my dream despite some very good reasons. Those are my words–not hers. She never once shamed or guilted me about any of the choices I’ve made. She just made a lot of sense out of what I thought were complicated choices. I do have research to do to follow up (i.e. more homework), but it’s a lot clearer now what I should be doing going forward.
- So here goes: my first thought is… never underestimate the power of conversation and friendship. Also, you never know where you will benefit them or where they will benefit you. I once thought that if I had a romantic relationship, I would feel complete or fulfilled. On paper this seems obviously mistaken, but in my head it was a swirl of spontaneous imagination and unexplainable impressions that this simple statement can’t do justice to. Words and concepts are limited and no experience of reality can be wholly predicted based on our limited thoughts and knowledge. It doesn’t mean we can’t trust our minds; however, they are not to be fully relied on in anticipation of life experience. We have to take our own thoughts and “knowledge” with a grain of salt.
- Next thought: Just because you toughen up, doesn’t mean you can’t be your sensitive self. Being tougher and becoming calloused are two different things. More on this one to come. Being in the “pain cave” is not the end of the world. It is not to be feared, because despite our self-doubt, it can be the source of our greatest work. Working through what seems impossible or unrelenting in its challenge to our pain threshold can be the work of a lifetime. Meanwhile, we’re waiting for it to get smooth, but our opportunities are often merely “dressed in overalls and look like work” (Thomas Edison, I believe).
- Thirdly, take care of yourself and reevaluate constantly if you’re actually doing it. Real sleep is taking care of yourself. 5 hours on your phone is not. Writing down your thoughts is taking care of yourself or even reflecting thoughtfully with specific questions. Ruminating and endless worry is not. Treating yourself to a specific treat at a specific time is taking care of yourself. A mindless spending spree is not. (Who is going to take care of you when the money you so desperately needed for the essentials is gone. How painful is that scenario in the long run?)
- Finally, vacations are temporary. It’s nice to get away. It’s nice to wander aimlessly. It’s nice to just be. But vacations should also be rejuvenating and not just in the “day spa” sense. But catching up on loose ends could leave you a bit less stressed when you head back to school or work. It might seem like added stress to address things during a vacation, but in the long term, resolution of problems can be the biggest stress relief. The primary point I wanted to make however, is to invest some time 30 minutes to an hour (even a day if your life provides for it) getting your mindset right for your return to work. Time off is an opportunity to prepare for when you have to be on again. This prep should not be approached as a grim duty. It is something you get to do, because if you were working or stressed from school, your mind may not be ripe for it. It can be as simple as making a list for the week ahead, writing some affirmations that lay out a more positive outlook on the coming days, laying out an update to your morning routine, making a list of revised priorities, or just reflecting on the things you promised yourself that you would do when you returned. As for the last one, my mind often seems as if its been wiped once I leave work on that last day. One last suggestion: simply choosing to sit and meditate may be all you need as the “lead domino” to get things going in a positive direction. Because believe or not, vacations end. It’s best to find a way to accept it positively rather than fighting (“Sunday Blues” style) with it during your last few moments of respite. Dreading the inevitable is often so much worse than the reality. Plan for the future so that you can return to appreciating the present.
I know I tend to get preachy, but still it’s a style thing. I’m refining it. I mostly scratch my own itch and then share the tools (after cleaning them up for you… lol). So take it or leave it. If nothing else, I hope it’s interesting to you. I’m not going to do a drawn out conclusion, because I am still on vacation. It seems like it could be a full day. ahead of me. So enjoy yourselves and continue to move forward. Thank you for reading this, and I hope that you are well and prosperous. (I mean this not only for the new year, but for all time.) Peace and love!