Several years ago, I was Accident Prone Girl.
When I would get stressed out, overwhelmed, too busy or just plain worn out, I would have little accidents. A stumble in the driveway on the way to a gig left me bruised and scraped, but I managed to get to the gig on time and do it anyway. I was pretty sore the next day, but I didn’t think much of it.
I was walking a dog for a friend one afternoon, and the dog freaked out, jerking me off balance. My foot hit an uneven part of a driveway, and I went down like a rag doll. Busted my fibula and totally wrecked my brand new glasses. I spent two weeks in a big boot, and another month in an air cast. But accidents happen, you know how it is.
The next time it was a little more serious. I was taking my shoes off at the top of the stairs after a gig, and suddenly lost all sense of where up was, and very quickly found down at the bottom of the stairs–with my hard-shell guitar and fiddle cases to “cushion” the landing. That put me in the emergency room, and then on the couch for a week, bandaged, bruised, sore, shaken, and in a lot of pain. No permanent damage was done, but it was pretty awful, nonetheless.
Another time, I was walking and tripped over a busted patch of sidewalk and slammed down on my knees, rolling completely over before coming to a stop, shouting FUUUUUCK! at the top of my lungs, of course. That time I went into shock from the pain in my knees, though again, no big damage was done.
Eventually, it occurred to me that I could happily spend a week on the couch without starting off with a traumatic fall.
So I talked to the studio coordinator at the store where I teach, and we worked out a plan to allow me to have about three mini-vacations a year, during those magical fifth weeks of a month. I started doing it about two years ago, and I haven’t had a single fall or accident since.
I’m telling you this because I hope that you will learn from my experience and not let yourself get stressed and exhausted to the point where the Vacation Fairies decide to push you down a flight of stairs just to get you to take a break. Because that would be stupid stupid stupid.
I’m just coming off an 11-day mini-vacation, which was heavenly. I did a lot of stuff. Some of it significant. Much of it quiet and very, very still. I read some incredible books, including Danielle LaPorte’s new one, White Hot Truth, which should be required reading for . . . Well, everybody ever. I did a little visiting with friends, a little self-care including a raw fruit and veggie detox, and did a closet cleanse under the tutelage of the fabulous Carrie Montgomery.
I had a powerful visit from the spirit of a friend who is no longer with us, who told me we have a soul agreement and he is going to teach me some stuff that I have been wanting to learn for . . . ages.
And then after all that, I went back to “work” today, feeling so unbelievably grateful that I have the time and the flexibility to live this incredible life, where I get to write in my journal, plan my day and do a Tarot reading before breakfast without having to rush off to be someplace I don’t want to be.
When you make taking care of yourself a priority, the world takes better care of you. I admit, I’m lucky as hell and spoiled as fuck. I don’t have to punch a clock and I am the boss of me. I have an amazing life that I love to pieces, but I still get stressed and have to take time off to recharge. Self-care can only make your life better. And the only person who can drive that bus is you. There is a way, and if there isn’t, then either you like feeling frazzled and toasted all the time, or you are not giving yourself and the people around you enough credit for loving you enough to say, “Let’s find a way.” Sometimes you have to walk away from situations, jobs and people that refuse to allow you to take care of yourself–and I know that’s a harsh thing to contemplate, but let’s admit we’re grown-ups here. You do not owe your company your life. They do not have the right to work you to death. Nor does your family.
Do you even know what nurtures you? Do you know how you like to be cared for? What really makes you feel rewarded? Do it. Book it. Carve out the time and make it happen, soon and often. It can only make your life better.