Coming off of our month-long vacation, it’s been an adjustment to get out of vacation mode. And there is a big part of us questioning why we have to. I’m not simply talking about sipping mojitos while we lounge on the beach; I’m talking about allowing for the season of rest.
You see, my husband pointed out to me how incredible it is that, here in Tennessee, we experience such beautiful seasons. It may seem barren in the winter, but the process of change and working the soil – and then letting it rest – is part of what gives us our amazing garden in the summertime. There is a necessary time of rest and replenishment in order to fully come alive in the spring and summer.
Even in Costa Rica where it may always be warm, there are still seasons of rain and….well, dust. 😉 No matter where you are in the world, we shift through seasons. Our beautiful Earth recognizes the need for a cycle. Humanity would be reduced to a very small population if the Earth stopped on its axis. The seasons protect us – they revitalize the soil, they kill off bacteria and bugs, they allow for hibernation and rest and bring forth new life.
Think about this with your everyday life. Do you allow for a season of down-time…ever? Technically, we have our “day of rest” on Sundays, playtimes on Saturdays, and the traditional one-week vacation. But first off, how much of this is sacred? How often are these the times to scratch off your to-dos, chauffeur children all over, and, when you hit that one week vacation, you expect this to be the week that helps you recover from a year – a year!- of work.
Is this even possible? Are we allowing a season of tilling the soil, planting, allowing for growth, and then harvesting? Are we allowing the tropical rains to pour down as we have a forced siesta for half of the year?
Everything in our environment lives by a season. There are many variations – plants, the weather, animals… And then there is the human being. Specifically, the culture of the US of A. Seriously – everything in our culture says to WORK. When are you supposed to rest? In the traditional model, we even have our children doing 40 hour work weeks (or more if you add in extra-curricular activities).
We live in a country that is not required to give you any rest. No paid vacations (Brazil has 41 days, for the record). Again, let me reiterate – America is the only advanced economy that does not require employers to give any paid vacation time. (I kept second-guessing this, but yes, it’s legit).
And now is when I put down the political bullshit and I stop pointing fingers at the government. That is a madness that is way beyond what I cover on this website and in this blog post. Me screaming that we need a paid vacation doesn’t actually account for anything for me as an independent contractor and business owner anyway! So, although it is sad that our culture does not condone and encourage vacation, I also believe that we can be proactive in giving ourselves rest.
What if you allowed for seasons in your life? Times of rest, relaxation, and recovery? I know work isn’t helping you out here. I know we can’t all take a full month off…if we choose to work a traditional job that doesn’t support it. I also know that we are in a crazy awesome entrepreneurial era where many of us have more options than working one 9-5 for the next thirty years. (If you’re unhappy with your work and are ready for a change, go here).
What if you looked at seasons as more than just the weather – and you addressed it daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?
- Spring – a time of new growth, opportunity, and when everyone’s twitterpated.
What is your “spring” time of day? When you wake up, do you greet the day with energy, hope, excitement? Do you journal, read, or exercise to bring growth into every day?
Let’s think twitterpated. Animals go “in season”. Spring is a time for lovebirds and new births. What are you doing to foster that springtime love in your relationship? Do you have a regular date night, or nighttime ritual? One of my eBooks in the making is called “Laughter, Humble Pie and Lots of Sex.” Intimacy on all levels, including physical, is vital to your marriage, and to growth. Springtime brings new growth.
What adventures will you do this month, this year, to foster exploration, excitement, learning/discovering something new, awe and beauty?
- Summer – hot lazy days, and when we justify a bit more of a vacation mindset.
Do you ever stop during the day to simply be present? To sit and rest? In some places of the world, there are high teas, afternoon siestas, and…I just discovered “Elevenses” (which, in the 19th century even the US partook of whiskey at 11am!)
Do you have relaxation moments where you take a bath, do yoga, meditate, read a book, or take a walk outside? Do you allow yourself to “indulge” and reboot by doing something solely for yourself? (For the record, this is not an “indulgence” but a critical practice to prevent burnout on so many levels).
Summer can be a time of community – reaching out to family and friends you may have not worked in to your busy schedule. Taking vacations typically happens now – but what if you looked for adding “summer” into more of your months – where you invite that nice couple down the street for dinner, or invest some time to talk with the sulking teen who works at the coffee shop? Get to know your children’s friends. Play at the park. Explore creeks and take walks…and stop and visit with anyone you meet. You may discover new friendships and valuable relationships.
- Fall – time for clearing out, letting go of that which has served its time.
Oy. Can you do this in your life? Can you let go of toxic relationships and be intentional about the energy you are allowing around you? What about your home – have you cleared out the clutter lately? What about in your soul – have you explored how to be fully present and aware even when the wind is blowing all around you?
I love the color of fall and the season of change. We all need to look at what in our life we need to let go of, whether that’s a relationship that has run its course or that bad habit we’ve picked up. Allow for some color and zest in your life, and see what you can let go of. (In our household, when we bring in something new, we take out at least 1-3 things. And if we are to take on a new responsibility, etc, we look at what we need to eliminate so we aren’t maxxed out).
- Winter – it may be cold and dreary, but it can awaken a new sense of wonder when you see the frost making everything glisten and the holidays bringing everyone together.
Hibernation – animals gather and store for the winter, and then…they slow down. Some of them do quite literally! How much sleep are you getting? How much time are you allowing for rest? In the wintertime especially, how many social gatherings are strictly out of obligation?
How about – gasp – you allow for a longer stretch of rest? Where you stop the social gatherings, obligations, and aspirations for accomplishing everything on your to-do list? What if, instead of just a week-long vacation once a year, you have seasons – a month even – of simply doing a staycation? No major housecleaning, company coming over…just movie nights, game nights, and simple meals. Just being with your family and nothing from the outside. Yes, this isn’t practical for life, but wow, it allows for a rest you may not recognize you need.
Recognize the seasons the way the weather and the animals do. Recognize that there is a time for growth, for gathering, for letting go, and for rest.
How do you incorporate the seasons into your days, weeks, months and years?