“Susan, for the past several weeks, you’ve expressed that you’re completely exhausted and burnt out from your work. It sounds like you are craving a break.
Why not take the weekend off and head out to a quiet place, like a cabin in the woods?
I know someone who owns the perfect spot. I’d be happy to introduce you two.”
My therapist had all the best of intentions, trying to encourage me to unplug from my high-pressure career in real estate, and detach from the cellphone that I carried around with me like an extra appendage.
But all I could think was, Um… excuse me? I think YOU are the one who needs a mental health specialist!
I sighed and said to her, “A cabin in the woods? In case you forgot, I have two small kids. There’s no way I can just ‘take off’ like that for a weekend. I have too much to do. And besides… what kind of mother would I be?”
My therapist said nothing.
But looking back, I’ll bet this is what she was thinking:
What kind of mother would you be?
The kind of mother who takes good care of herself.
The kind of mother who makes health and personal satisfaction a priority, instead of postponing happiness for… “someday.”
The kind of mother who knows that by taking a few days off, she can return home with 200% more love and energy to give… for months.
The kind of mother who will raise kids who know how to take beautiful care of themselves, too.
That conversation with my therapist was eight years ago, and looking back, I have to laugh at myself. I can’t believe how flabbergasted I became at the mere thought of taking one or two days off. Back then, to me? The idea was preposterous.
Today, I know that taking time away — whether it’s a vacation, a working holiday, a creative business retreat, or even a paid gig that requires me to hop on a plane — isn’t “selfish.”
On the contrary, it’s one of the most generous choices I can make. Both for myself. And for the people I return home to — who get to experience a refreshed, invigorated, dialed-up version of me.
When I’m “away,” that’s when I…
: Generate tons of ideas for blog posts I want to write, speeches I want to give, and TV episodes that I want to produce. (I came up with the whole concept for Life Is Delicious TV and mapped out the first season while on a trip to Hawaii.)
: Have time and space to think deeply about my future, mapping out the “next level” life that I’m ready to step into. (When I need a dose of Zen, I make a beeline for the lake.)
: Pay extra-close attention to the beauty in the world — noticing little moments that I sometimes overlook, at home. (On a recent trip to Portland, my Facebook feed was packed with photos of coffee, food, flowers, old homes… so many simple pleasures.)
: Practice living like the ultimate version of myself — waking up earlier, moving my body even more, focusing intently on projects, without any distractions. (Which is exactly what I am doing in… Thailand!)
Traveling isn’t about “running” from your problems.
Taking time off isn’t about “ignoring” the work that needs to get done.
When you take time away from your usual life, that’s when you’re the most likely to solve problems, unlock your highest levels of creativity and actually get (big) things done.
If you know that taking a break is exactly what you need, but feel like you can’t possibly afford to leave…
I have three words for you:
Just get away.
Or better yet:
(My retreats in Thailand and Italy are completely sold out, but I’ve got one more up my sleeve… a retreat in Ireland. Summer 2015. I can’t promise direct access to leprechauns, but… maybe we’ll get lucky! Hop on my mailing list so you don’t miss the official announcement. More soon. 🙂
Keep the conversation going at Facebook.