I know the vitality cycle: In order to perform, maintain your sanity, stay strong, be happy, be able to focus, you must rest. A nightly sleep. Rest days during training blocks. Easy weeks after a tough race.
I understand and actively do all that regularly, but the concept of walking away from work—a small business I love to do—doesn't come naturally to me. Still, for about the last month, every cell in my body was politely requesting that I take a break—or something more important would fall apart in the next few weeks or months.
I spent August finishing Tales From Another Mother Runner, and climbing Pikes Peak, and getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 off to 6th and 3rd grade. Sarah and I traveled twice in September, in addition to planning for 2015. So I was already pretty wiped, and I know that winter is the hardest time for me, depression-wise. I needed to recharge so that I wouldn't just let October—and then November, and December, and so on—and the accompanying weariness and mental darkness just happen to me.
So I decided to take action. In the form of a staycation and a real vacation. I got the OK from Sarah to take 10 days off (thanks again, SBS!). I hung here in Denver for a week and barely touched the keyboard. It wasn't a see-the-town staycation, but rather a see-parts-of-my-house-I-never-see one. I cleaned out my office, a task I've been meaning to do for, oh, five years (hello bank statements from 2001! I've missed you!); I scrubbed floorboards (surprisingly fulfilling); I took a great trail run with a good pal for 90 minutes at 8 in the morning--and didn't stress that it was 40-minute-drive away; I cleaned closets and drawers and saw friends I haven't seen for too long. Doesn't sound super relaxing, but trust me: totally was.
Then, while Grant and the kids were in DC over school fall break—it's an annual tradition for the trio of them to travel together during that time—I took off for San Diego for three nights. By myself. With a stack of books, a journal, some sunscreen, a tankini, and no plan except to run 18 miles so I could keep up with Kelly, my first-time marathoner in our Saucony 26Strong Philly Marathon race.
"Wait, you're going on vacation by yourself?" a few friends asked.
"You're going to be totally bored by Sunday afternoon," Grant said. (It should be noted: Grant isn't a huge fan of beach vacations.)
"What are you going to do, exactly?" one of my sisters asked.
Yes I am. No I won't. And read and read and read, think about some strategies for this winter, watch bad television, eat what I want when I want, talk to nobody, stay off my phone, don't check email, sit on the beach, walk on the beach, swim in the waves, watch the surfers in the waves and the dogs on the beach, wash sand off my feet, go to bed early, get up early, run. Repeat.
And that's exactly what I did. The most words I spoke were to my massage therapist; Grant decided he would fill one hour of my time with a massage, so yes, he gets a star husband award for that. It can't be overemphasized how much I enjoyed the quiet. No noise, unless I made it. That alone was worth the price of admission. Anybody who has an 8-year-old boy probably knows there is no volume button. Love that kid, but he's either talking, yelling, singing, grunting loudly—or he's asleep. And Amelia, while not as loud, has her own special way of exhausting me.
I returned feeling rested. And by rested, I mean ready to embrace a big year for AMR, love on my kids more, talk to my husband more, smile more. In other words, I'm won't just let life and motherhood and winter pummel me and hope I make it to spring in one piece.
I write this not so you can drool about my time in San Diego, but rather that you think about how something like this could fit into your life. I realize it's not the easiest to finagle, time- or finance-wise, but just like your body needs a break from training, you—all of you: your body, mind, spirit, soul, energy—need regular break to regroup, enjoy the silence, rest, and relax.
It could be a night where you send the family off to dinner and a movie, and you get your favorite take-out, ignore the dog hair and legos under the couch, and veg out. It could be a night where you do the same thing—but head to a hotel in town where you get your own bed. (Then sleep in, and go for a long run the next morning, delaying your return home.) It may be your own version of a staycation, where you take a few days off of work and tend to what needs tending. Or it may mean pulling the plug totally and taking a few days and nights for just.you.
Please know: I don't mean to preach. All I know is that it's taken me 11 years of motherhood to finally create some restorative time for myself that I knew I needed. Now I know I'm going to do it, in some shape or form, much more regularly.
Curious: Have you ever taken a solo vacation? Or time off just for some time off? Was it as restorative as I found it to be?