I don’t think it’s any secret, but I don’t take breaks very well. As long as I can remember, even when I know a break is coming up (say Spring Break, or a long weekend), I’ve always, and I MEAN ALWAYS, filled them up with projects, trips, and plans. So it’s safe to say that taking breaks is an area where I need to improve, for my sanity’s sake, and the sanity of those who are forced to share space with me.
Part of why I embarked on a new life path recently was to address this issue, and I have to say, that it’s still REALLY hard for me. About two weeks ago, I was faced with a BIG deadline. Several farmer’s markets and juried craft shows had deadlines for early application guaranteeing best location or were first come first served setups in competitive markets. I had very little product given that I am just up and running in the home studio and hadn’t even begun to think about what things would look like at a market. Several sleepless nights and working to the point of exhaustion led me to meet those deadlines and as a result, last week I found out that I was accepted to all of the places I had applied. Big relief right? Time to take a break. Well, turns out, that just spurred new anxiety. Oh God! I don’t have enough stuff for all those markets!!! I have to get to work!!! But determined to slow things down as I had hoped to do with this new life, I settled on the last week of March as a big push week for me, allowing for a little down-time to fill the well before going in to full production mode.
Well, as luck would have it, the weather turned beautiful, making it MUCH easier to work in the studio. More anxiety. Oh God! It’s perfect weather to be working in the studio!!! I shouldn’t waste this opportunity. Again determined, not to let my over-active work ethic get in the way of some much-needed downtime, I resisted the temptation to work non-stop into the night.
Then, however, the monster inside me took over. I made the mistake of taking some of that down-time to look at my garden plans. OH GOD!!! Need to get the seeds started, and I haven’t even ordered grain, and the beds aren’t prepared for outdoor plantings that start in a week or two. The Hugelkultur experiment that we are building this year is A LOT of work up front, but promises to reduce the amount of work throughout the growing season, so I’ve been committed to following through on the plans. Turns out dirt is VERY HEAVY by the way… So, under the guise of rest and relaxation, I began to use the warm days to get this garden ready for the season. After taking it reletively slowly for about a week, yesterday, the monster won, and won big! Digging about twice as much as I had on previous days, and really feeling the crunch of the approach of Spring, I completed about 48 square feet of Hugelbeds complete with a trip to salvage a downed Elm tree from Boulder. THIS… finally broke me. My back is cooked! I couldn’t throw a pot if I wanted to right now, and the work-ethic demon, that won’t allow a single moment to go by unused has only been tamed by a body all too familiar with the excesses of this calamitous creature.
I had thought a couple of days ago, that by jumping on a St. Louis Blues best-in-NHL bandwagon I would help to slow down the pernicious personage of pain welling up inside of me, but alas, it seems that Hockey has only shortened the useable time in the day making the villainous varmint push ever harder to get a “Good Day’s Work” in.
So as I write this, hunched helplessly over at the kitchen table, the malignant monster works his magic through my fingertips, knowing full well that, with a Hockey game scheduled for 5pm and only 7 hours left in this work day there is bound to be some cyber-connecting, or inter-webbing, or photo-shopping, or just plain sketching that can advance it’s cause. A world without breaks. A productivity level unmatched by shipping jobs off-shore. A broken body, but a completed project.
I’ve often mused in my life that if I just had all this time I was wasting working for others to do the projects I had in my head that I would not only be able to sustain myself with that labor, but live a more full and happy life. I still think that is true, but taming this beast and putting it to work in smaller doses will be key to succeeding. For today, I will try to rest… the body at least.