Several months ago, I was talking with two friends at lunch, and we were comparing notes about being work-at-home moms. One friend became a new mom around the same time I did, and she was sharing about trying not to take on as much and saying “no” more often, but she worried that people would think she was lazy if she didn’t take on all the work she possibly could. She admitted that what she often wants to do when she isn’t taking care of her child is nap or just watch television or read.
I sat there listening knowing that “lazy” was the last word I would ever use to describe this incredible woman who is living so many of her dreams and creating a beautiful life because she has followed her inner wisdom when making decisions. Yet, the old story of her thinking people see her as lazy was still tugging on her, especially when thinking about how she just wants to rest more.
My other friend and I gently challenged her, insisting that she isn’t lazy but that perhaps she actually needs to rest more. We talked about all the beautiful stuff and hard stuff that happens, and that when she has moments to herself, which don’t happen often, rest might be exactly what she needs.
I remember saying something like, “The opposite of not doing everything isn’t being lazy. Maybe the companion to working so hard and living your dreams and healing must be rest.”
The three of us experienced a beautiful moment as she began to unpack this old story and reframe her definition of rest.
A Piece of My Story
My current story involves really noticing the ways my body and heart want to rest. And what I’ve begun to see is that rest comes in many forms. For example, I rest by reading just for fun or napping when my daughter naps or just closing my eyes for five minutes and counting my breaths or stepping outside to listen to the birds or making something in my studio just for me or reaching out to a friend to hear her laughter. When I do one of these things, I find that the worry and the shoulds and the what ifs begin to fade for a little while, and I have a renewed energy to show up for my work and in the other roles I play in my life.
Another important piece is learning how to ask for support in getting more rest. I struggle with this one. It can feel decadent to say, “I’m going to pay the babysitter to come for three hours so that I can take myself out to lunch and I might even come home and take a nap after that.” And even as I write this, the guilt taps on me and I want to quickly reassure you that I’ve only done that once! But then I have to remind myself that the guilt that comes up about this really belongs to someone else because what I deeply know is that time spent alone is how I find myself again. If I don’t rest all those many roles I play, I will begin to disappear into them.
When I come out on the other side of rest, I so often find myself in the midst of this truth: Rest also helps me heal from the cracks living creates.
Rest helps us heal our old stories. Rest gives us space to let go of all the roles we play and just be ourselves for a little while. Rest gives us a break from all the over-thinking and the doing so much and the expectations and assumptions and the shoulds. Rest helps us see ourselves with gentler eyes so that we can invite in more love and less judgement.
I love the way SARK puts it in her book Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed when talking about how adults need nap time just like children do. She writes, “As adults, we still need these nap times. We need tender places to repair our souls and put special glue on the broken spaces.”
When I can see the little girl in me who needs these tender places to take a break from all that life has handed her over the years, I begin to see how creating space for rest becomes a beautiful act of self-love.
In this moment, I wonder what old stories have prevented you from resting and taking care of what you and your body and heart most need. Spend a few minutes writing about this. Just put pen to the page and see what comes up. Then, look for clues that might help you unpack why you don’t give yourself the gift of rest in all its possible forms. Consider making a list of the ways you do rest or ways you could start resting now. Put this list somewhere you can easily see it, so it can remind you to give yourself the gift of rest.
Liz Lamoreux is the author of Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media. In this moment, you might find her dancing in her studio to Mumford and Sons, making muffins with her two year old, writing a poem, or deeply enjoying the quiet found in a cup of tea. Connect with her at www.lizlamoreux.com