I swear, I intended to write regularly.
At the beginning of the year, I was ready to put aside all the crazy expectations associated with having and maintaining a blog. There’s so much jostling for attention and clicks and traffic and frankly, it’s exhausting. I was excited to return to my blogging roots.
But then January happened and to be honest, it’s been hard to find the inspiration to write. I mean, who wants or needs to hear about my random musings when there’s so much going on in the world? Honestly, I don’t have much to add to the conversation that hasn’t been better said elsewhere. I didn’t want to add to the already cluttered and noisy chatter.
Plus, January was super busy with work (thankfully). Fun stories to work on and I can’t wait to share those with you.
The one thing people don’t tell you is how much of the freelance life is hustle. Wait, scratch that. It’s not that they don’t tell you—It IS an inherent part of the job. You’re a freelancer, duh—it’s just that we don’t often talk about that aspect of the work.
We talk about how great it is to be your own boss, manage your own schedule, work on assignments and projects that you want to work on. But the reality it, in order to pay the bills and make a living, you still need to hustle. And the hustle never really stops. (And if you know me in real life, you know that I really really really dislike the hustle.)
By the beginning of February, I was super burned out.
In fact, Lauren Fleshman (who recently took a sabbatical) captured the tenor of what I was feeling—minus the whole professional runner and new mom thing:
“I felt burned out, deeply exhausted, frayed at the seams. I described it to Jesse as a deep deep tiredness, but it was more than that. The feeling of tiredness itself was not concerning. It was the color of it. The feel of it. Like a dishwater brown, oversized wet sponge. I had been tired off and on for 16 years as an elite runner, as a pregnant person, as a new mom. This tired felt like something essential had been taken from me: my drive.”
Instead of finding productive ways to take care of myself (like yoga, writing, reading and meditation), I was glued to my social media and my phone. I would stare at and scroll through my Twitter feed, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Facebook, the news sites. It was an endless loop. I could feel my eyes bugging out of my head yet I couldn’t seem to stop scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. I was looking for escape and distraction.
I realized that I needed to show myself a little grace, otherwise I was going to implode. I needed to disconnect and take a break and pause and breathe. But how could I do that within the confines of daily life?
Luckily, an opportunity fell into my lap. The yoga studio where I teach was hosting a retreat in Tulum, Mexico. They had a last minute cancellation and offered it up to teachers. To say I pounced on the opportunity doesn’t quite describe how quickly I responded to that email. I knew it would be difficult to leave for a week, especially since my husband is also slammed with work, but thankfully we figured out a way.
On Valentine’s Day, I boarded a plane to Mexico for a week of yoga and literally sitting around doing nothing. The yoga classes were amazing. The beach was pristine. And the quiet? OMG it was so quiet (except for that one night when the club across the street was blasting music until 2am).
I carried a lot of expectations with me into this trip. I thought it was going to rejuvenate me. I would have boatloads of time to read and write. I would feel mentally refreshed.
Did that happen? Yes and no.
The trip was never going to live up to the expectations I set in my head. That was impossible.
And once I did have hours to myself and was surrounded by quiet, I very quickly found other ways to distract myself. It wasn’t always comfortable being with myself or by myself—something that isn’t so easy to recognize in yourself.
While the trip wasn’t this transformational experience I imagined, it was an important experience. I fell in love with my yoga practice again and came home inspired to teach. I have ideas for writing percolating in my head. I slept a ridiculous amount. I read two books. But there’s also things I know I need to continue to work on.
Grit and Grace, right?