I learned a very valuable lesson this past month.
I haven’t been breathing.
No, not literally, or I wouldn’t be here writing this, now would I? *grin* I mean, I haven’t been taking time to stop, look around, and breathe in the world around me, to see the beauty in the smallest, seemingly insignificant thing that usually captures my attention.
In my intro, I talked about how much I love to travel, and that I just returned from a week and half trip to the Oregon/Northern California coast. These trips are my saviors, really, because it brings me back into my mental space that I need to be in to write.
For six to eight months up to March 13, 2011, I hadn’t been breathing. I’d been living in this vacuum of work (my day job managing seven other editors, and editing) and writing (deadlines looming, both from the publisher and personal), dealing with the family finances (husband’s job cut his hours), dealing with a teenager (‘nuff said about that!), and worrying over a whole set of very serious sibling issues (my siblings). Then, in January, I get the word that I need open heart surgery—before the end of the year—and before that can happen I need to drop a “significant” amount of weight (none of your business how much, but let’s just say the 8 months he gave me to do it might not be enough).
Are you hyperventilating yet? I sure as heck was!
I couldn’t write, I couldn’t concentrate, and I sure couldn’t breathe! I began living for March 13th, the day I would pack up the pickup and head to the coast for twelve days. Everything I did was one step closer to me getting the heck out of my house, away from the computer, away from dealing with my life.
Traveling in general is a stress reliever to me. I love driving, and especially driving through the country. I always avoid interstate highways as much as possible. I love the water; lakes, ponds, oceans, it’s all the same to me. Trees, forests, fields…I even love driving through the arid deserts now and then. Oregon and Northern California are all about ocean and forests, and standing among the Redwoods in a light rain was one of those moments captured in my mind that will stay with me long after I’m home and back to the everyday garbage that goes on between trips.
It worked. I came home refreshed, inspired, and ready to work and write and deal with everything I had been avoiding for weeks, and in some cases, months. My writing is a hundred times better and coming easier, I don’t want to kill everyone I work with, and my husband isn’t ducking and covering every time I give him “that look.” (I am not sure what “the look” looks like, but apparently I have one, and it’s scary.)
What I realized, though, is that I need to take the time, at least once every couple of weeks, and do something that will keep me breathing. I need to not get myself so stressed out I can’t function. I am fairly sure this goes for non-writers, also, but I definitely feel it the most when I stare at the blank computer screen and can’t come up with words—any words—to fill the space, because my mind is so crowded with everything else and not letting my art come through.
Just as a side note, if you think I need to try meditating or yoga or something along those lines… Yeah, not for me. Been there, done that. It’s not relaxing to me; it doesn’t fit my personality. It makes me slightly homicidal. *grin* Sitting still and trying to clear my mind just frustrates me. For those it works for, all the more power to you. I really wish I could do it! And I do go to the gym—I have a ton of weight to lose—but that’s not relaxing either. It’s a chore, and I hate it, no matter how much I try to think positive thoughts and convince myself I just love breathing hard and sweating. Sorry, never been one to lie to myself… I hate going to the gym!
This week’s relaxation was to take a jaunt down to Bellingham, enjoy a drive through the countryside in the sunshine, get a manicure, have lunch, do a little shopping, and take a day away from the stressors of daily life.
I’m feeling pretty good, and I’m not even dreading the trip to the gym this afternoon—not much anyway…
Life is always going to be stressful. If it wasn’t, I think we’d all get really bored. But remember to step back and do something that will help you breathe. I will just have to remind myself more regularly to do this.
Anna Leigh Keaton