Posts Tagged ‘rest’

I’m almost recovered. This is what I kept saying to friends, only half jokingly, for at least two weeks after our ZUMIX Gala, which was sparkly and musical and made for a very late night. It was beautiful and fun and entirely worthwhile – and it took much longer to get “back to normal” than I expected.

It wasn’t only the loss of sleep that required some catch-up: there’s a huge swell of emotional and mental effort leading up to an event like that, and sometimes riding the downswell (both the release and the letdown) means you need to take a minute. I was also fighting a cold, for at least a solid week afterward; one of my colleagues likewise couldn’t stop coughing; and another one came down with COVID, which is still with us no matter how much we’d like to pretend otherwise. As we tallied donations and sent thank-you letters and boxed up leftover swag, I talked to several friends who all said the same thing: recovery times, in general, seem to be longer these days.

Part of it is the exhaustion; we’d all put in a lot of hours in the weeks before the Gala, and our bodies and minds needed some rest and space, even as we looked (and continue to look) ahead to the next major project and the daily work. But I think it’s also a lingering effect of the last few pandemic years.

All of us, whether we realize it or not, are still dealing with the compounded results of isolation, fear, mixed political and public-health messaging, and (for many of us) the aftermath of the virus itself. I think differently about social gatherings now, in the wake of 18+ months of barely attending any. I cherish the chances to dance, break bread and celebrate with friends, but I also notice that I need longer to recover – socially and/or physically – afterward. My running routine has had to change since I had the virus; I’ve struggled to build back my stamina and speed. I am noticing a renewed zeal to get back to normal (or pretend it’s already here) in various circles, in person and online. And – honestly – I don’t know if pre-pandemic “normal” is the thing to aim for.

Life is decidedly not the same as it was in 2020; we have vaccines and few restrictions, and I can move about the world in a way I couldn’t then. I’m also conscious that life is not the same as it was in 2019. I am not the same; none of us are, or should be. One way I’m trying to honor that difference is to give myself (and others) the recovery time that’s needed. And if – when – it’s longer? So be it. I’m learning to recognize, and make allowances for, that important fact.


Read Full Post »

#run31: rest.

I fell into running almost by accident, but once I did, I fell hard and fast. Within a month after I started running, I was out on the trail four or five days a week. That number has increased with my strength, my love of running, and the pandemic – to the point where I’ll often look up and realize I’ve run seven or 10 or 14 days in a row.

Running is one of my favorite daily rhythms, a way to move my body (and sometimes my thoughts), clear my head, drink in the fresh air. There are so many reasons to love it, and I’ve been writing about many of them this month. But here’s a corollary truth: sometimes I need a rest.

I’ve read a few articles about repetitive stress injuries, and while I’m healthy and strong, I definitely want to be mindful of that. Sometimes my muscles need a day off from the motion and effort of running, whether that’s taking a yoga class or a long walk, or taking a day to sleep in and simply be. (Sometimes, like last week, I need a rest after a long bike ride – 22 miles! – which was fabulous, but exhausting.)

I’m often antsy to get back out there by the next morning, and I’m hoping to keep running six or seven days a week for the foreseeable future. But I’m putting this out there so I don’t forget: rest is also an essential part of any running regimen. My muscles, and my soul, need restoration just as much as they need exercise.

Read Full Post »

On margin

daffodils dachshund table

Recently, my husband and I took a weeklong road trip to Canada, to celebrate the end of a long, full spring season (at work and at home) and so I could take a break between jobs. We had a glorious time, and I promise I’ll tell you more about it soon. But I’ve been thinking about how I also loved having a few quiet days at home after we came back. My husband headed straight back to work on Monday morning, but I had a couple of days to sleep in, catch up on laundry and putter around the house. I had some margin.

I started my new job at the Harvard Kennedy School last week, and I am thrilled to be back among colleagues I already know, at a place I already love. I’m easing in, with a couple of days at work, a long weekend for the 4th of July, and a short workweek this week. And I am so happy about it – not just because it’s summer and things are therefore a little slower, but because it gives me some margin. Some room. Some breathing space.

I’m a classic type-A overachiever, and I live and work in a culture that prizes hustle. When the occasion calls for it, I can hit the ground running and keep up a hectic pace, for days or weeks on end. That’s what I did during my temp gig at the central Harvard Public Affairs office this spring. Commencement season around there is a maelstrom, and I was right in the thick of it.

But that’s not how I like to operate. When I can get it, I prefer a little margin.

This spring, I jumped straight from one temp gig to another with only a weekend in between. After our lovely weekend on Martha’s Vineyard, it was full speed ahead at work for the entire month of May, while still trying to figure out my next step. And although early June was quieter, it involved a lot of tying up loose ends and handing over tasks and projects to my replacement, before I took my vacation. I haven’t had a lot of margin lately.

I’ve been doing my best to snatch breathing room where I can get it: solo lunch breaks with a sandwich and a book, a quiet evening at home with dishes and a podcast or another book (or three), and in rare cases, half an hour scribbling in my journal after my husband goes to bed. But I’m looking forward to a little more margin in my life this summer. There’s still a lot of change and adjustment ahead on the horizon, but I am hoping for more space – physical and mental – during these long, sunlit days.

Do you find that margin is necessary in your life? How do you make sure you get it?

Read Full Post »

Enough is plenty

Our bodies are designed to tell us when we’ve had enough of something. And in a sane world we listen to the message and we stop. But we live in a world in which extremes are good and saying you’ve had enough is just pathetic. So the more our bodies send us warnings the more we find ways to reject them. […] We do it because we’ve bought into the idea that we’re morally required to ‘challenge’ ourselves. So we give ourselves lectures about how we ought to be, instead of listening in silence to see how we are.

When I first came to Corca Dhuibhne I heard a proverb that means ‘enough is plenty.’ […] If I thought about its meaning at all, I assumed it applied to food and drink. Now I think it applies to all the appetites, including our appetite for work and for personal challenge. Too much or too little of anything means lack of balance. The Celts believed that the health of each individual affects the health of the universe. I don’t know if that’s true. But I do know that the essence of health is balance. And I think the route to finding it is awareness in stillness.

—Felicity Hayes-McCoy, The House on an Irish Hillside

pei view prince edward island fields

I read this charming memoir just before leaving on vacation, where my husband and I spent several days wandering green fields and red sandy beaches, drinking in the views of the blue Gulf of St. Lawrence and patches of pink and purple lupines along the roadsides. The author is writing about western Ireland, and her words did remind me irresistibly of my own visit to the Aran Islands, long ago. But we found the same sort of deep stillness and rest on Prince Edward Island. (The photo above is the view from our doorstep there.)

As I reenter the world of commutes and email, errands and obligations, I’m keeping these words about balance in the forefront of my mind. (And picking up ingredients for a few salads, to balance out all the seafood, ice cream and pie we ate this week.) More PEI photos and stories soon.

Read Full Post »

When it’s all too much


My mom used to tell me, over and over again: “You can’t do everything.”

I am only now starting to believe her.

I was a super-involved child and teenager, by my own choice. Piano lessons. Spelling bees. Marching band. A student diplomatic organization. Lots of church activities, in addition to classes and homework. I treasured my solitude even then, holed up with a book or my journal, but I treasure community too, and I never want to be left out. I struggle with saying no to anything that sounds appealing, even if I know I don’t have the time or energy for it.

Since moving to New England, I’ve learned how the daily grind can wear you down, even if you work in a beautiful place, even if you love your work and your colleagues. Sometimes weekends are for travel and exploring and brand-new adventures, but just as often, they are for puttering and sipping tea, for quiet afternoons and lots of rest.

Most of the time, I don’t mind taking a quiet weekend. But it’s harder when you’ve made plans and have to cancel them, when you’ve invested time and money and you have to cut those losses because you know it would be better to stay home and rest.

We had hoped to spend the upcoming long weekend in New York – a city I love, which endlessly fascinates me. We’d bought bus tickets and booked a cute little studio apartment in Brooklyn, even made plans for brunch with a friend. But about a week ago, we looked at each other and said: Let’s stay home.

This is my husband’s last week at the job he’s worked for three years, and while he is excited to be moving on to a new organization, he is saying lots of good-byes, and those are tiring. I am smack in the middle of a busy season at work: three or four events jammed up against one another, all in the space of two weeks. Add to that a work conference in Rhode Island (for me) and the death of a relative in Texas (for my husband), not to mention all the small daily details, and perhaps you will understand: we are tired.

It felt strangely adult to cancel our plans, the life equivalent of reaching for a healthy salad even though you’d rather order a steaming plate of salty, delicious, not-so-healthy fish and chips. We lost a bit of money, but the deciding factor was taking a clear-eyed look at our lives as they are right now, and choosing what we need over what we want.

This is a small issue, I know, in the grand scheme of things. There will be other New York weekends, other chances to explore and sightsee, other adventures. We did not give up anything permanent, and this was in no way a life-or-death decision.

Still, it feels important, and grown-up: realizing we can’t do everything, and choosing not to try. Rather, we are choosing to rest and renew, so we can come back to our everyday lives with energy, grace and even joy.

Do you struggle with saying no, or with choosing to rest?

Read Full Post »

#AugustBreak 2013

I need a break, friends. Between recent travel, lots of houseguests and some big changes at work (one of my closest colleagues is moving to a different department), I’m feeling a bit depleted. While I love summer and all the pleasures it brings (I often wish for half this level of activity and fun in the wintertime), several weeks of high-octane summer fun can leave me worn out and wordless.

Luckily, Susannah Conway is hosting her August Break again this year – a chance to step back from the words and share a few photos, capturing summer’s essence while relaxing a bit. This year, she’s added some (optional) photo prompts, below:


I doubt I’ll be organized enough to take or post a photo every day, but the beauty of a break is that there are no rules. I may also pop in to share what I’ve been reading, or another occasional post, but for the most part, I’ll be stepping back to savor August and recharge.

Just for fun, here’s the first photo (breakfast):

breakfast tea cereal blueberries

See you around (sporadically) this month. I’ll be back to regularly scheduled posting in September.

Read Full Post »

That’s what I’m doing the rest of this week. You can find me baking, cooking, eating, playing board games, celebrating Nate’s birthday, attending our church’s Turkeypalooza (also known as our Thanksgiving Extravaganza), calling far-away loved ones, taking two of my girlfriends around Boston, knitting, hanging out with my husband, watching holiday episodes of Friends, and being thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, my loves. You are definitely on my gratitude list.

Read Full Post »