Claiming space to be unproductive

Last night, there was an online workshop that I wanted to attend at 7:30pm. I’m generally a morning person and start my day around 6am. One cup of coffee in, my thinking is most clear; this is usually the time of day when I write.

I pace my energy through the day — some work days are naturally busier than others with deadline-oriented tasks and meetings. I’m getting better at finding ways to re-energize through the day — working from home means taking my dog on a long mid-day walk and even stopping to meditate for five or ten minutes when my thoughts start racing.

But at almost age 50, giving myself permission to say no to obligations is something I’m still learning to do. Why is it even a question about whether to attend a voluntary workshop or not when I’m tired? Why would I put that pressure on myself? Who did I think I would disappoint and why was disappointing someone else more important than taking care of myself?

I’m in re-set mode, learning to pay attention to my body and what it needs better than I have my whole life. Last night as 7:30pm approached, I decided instead of making a cup of green tea and pushing myself to go to the workshop, I would finish the last chapter of my book, watch an episode of the show I’m binging and go to bed at 10pm.

It was wonderful.

How ridiculous is it that that was a hard choice to make? Shouldn’t it be reflexive that as adults we’ve learned to take care of ourselves at least as well as we care for the people we love?

But I imagine for many people reading these words, this reality may be a struggle for you.

I’m learning that as I listen more, pause and rest, I’m not only way more productive and but also feel so much lighter in all that I’m doing.

Maybe things don’t need to be so hard. Maybe I don’t need to push.

My body has been kind and good to me, gracious through the years that I’ve taken her for granted, beaten her up with toxins and neglect. She’s been there, steady, while I’ve gone through illness and recovered. The least I can do now is start to really listen to her…and notice when she wants to rest.

I wish this was something that I had learned when I was younger — but I’ll try not to stay in wistfulness or regret about that. Instead, I offer a prayer to this vessel that holds my soul:

Thank you for every way you have held me since the moment I was born through this very moment. You send me important messages all of the time and now I understand that when I’m tired, it’s good to rest.

I’m at the beginning of this practice of not pushing, of tuning in more deeply to how I’m feeling physically and emotionally, but all ready, I feel refreshed.

How do you listen to your body? What helps you to stop and rest when you need to?

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If you enjoyed this blog, you may want to check out my books and more.

Recovering perfectionist seeking spiritual growth. Writer, Educator, Mom. Disability advocate. Dog Lover. www.gabriellekaplanmayer.com

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