“Take Some Time to Travel”

I’ve been really stressed lately. (Who hasn’t?) And most of the time, when I’m stressed, I also get really forgetful (who doesn’t?). But I don’t mean I walk into a room and forget why I’m there forgetful.  I mean, I turn on the water for a shower and then leave the house in my towel. (That hasn’t happened yet, but honestly, it’s only a matter of time.) 

So, imagine my surprise, as I was taking notes during a call, I looked down and saw that I had written “take some time to travel.” Your guess is as good as mine about what that actually was about. I have no idea what it was in reference to or if someone had even said it. I’m not sure why I even wrote it down. 

But in some small way, I want to believe that my brain was urging me to do something for me (for once). It was all like, hey, Bailey, it’s your brain talking. I know, I know, I named myself. How cool is that? Anyway, you’re working me way too hard. Why don’t we get out of here for awhile?

And I will be this weekend. Getting out for here awhile, that is. And I think, at least this is what my brain says, that’s exactly what I need. 

And hey. Someone has to be looking out for you. It might as well be… you. 

Work Hard; Play Hard

I’m sorry I’ve been so spotty with my posting lately. I was trying to escape the Pope last week, which meant I had to get away, which meant (thank goodness) I had little to no Internet, which (unfortunately) meant I could not blog, but which meant I could relax.

And so, with the absence of my beloved blog, I definitely felt like I was missing something. Telling a writer that she doesn’t have to write is like telling a fish not to swim. It’s a part of you, and it helps you to keep going. But at the same time, I had some free moments to figure some things out.

Like the fact that I need to relax more.

Recently, I’ve been pretty stressed. A type of stressed that bothers you in the day (in the the form of heart palpitations and anxiety attacks) and at night (actually organizing matters in your dreams.) So, I was excited to have a weekend where I could get away and not think about anything. I saw new things, I laughed a lot, and I kept busy in a fun way. I certainly had to step down my stress level by level (like waking up in the middle of a stress dream and yelling at myself to dream about something different), but by the end of it, I felt calmer for once. And I realized something huge: you don’t have to fight fire with fire. You just have to douse it with water.

See, I was incredibly stressed out. So, I relaxed really hard. Because everything needs balance. It’s an equal give and take. When you have reached your limit, you need to refuel. It’s what the doctor ordered in a way, as an antidote uses a different version of the poison that infects you. Administer an equally potent dose of recreation, and you can begin to counteract stress’s effects. Because if you’ve worked hard enough, you deserve to play hard enough.

The problem comes when people try to cheat the system. They work really hard and only relax a little. Or they max out their vacation hours and don’t put any real work in. It’s not healthy or fun to do either of these full time. Believe it or not, both scenarios seem to drain you in one way or another.

So, if you’re going to work really hard, expect to reward yourself. Hard. It will create a positive correlation in your mind about work and perhaps keep you from procrastinating so long the next time that big project looms.

After all, it’s always important to give credit where credit is due. Especially when it’s due to you.

Sorry, I Was in the Hospital

I’m really sorry. I was in the hospital over the weekend, and I took a little time off from everything, including blogging for the past two days.

And at the same time, I’m not sorry about that. (Well, I mean, I would prefer not to go back into the hospital.)

Listen, I know that I have a responsibility to my readers and to all of the other things I do on a daily basis. I know that I am an important cog in the machine, as we are all (asked to believe). And I apologize for letting some things slide, especially this blog. But I am truly not sorry for taking the time off.

In reality, I think that I (as a citizen of this country) have a serious problem with work ethic and productivity. Of course, I may not live in the worst nation in this department and we’re probably even in denial about that, but I think there’s a serious disconnect when it comes to vacation time and the rest of our time in America, and what happens when we try to split the difference.

You see, I know I’m not alone in the fact that I’m afraid to miss any time from work or any of my extracurricular activities. It just makes me generally anxious. I’m all like, What if someone needs something, and I’m not there? Or worse, what if no one even realized I was gone? 

The problem is that when you are burning the candle at both ends and the midnight oil, your body will let you know that this can’t continue, which mine did. And when that happens, it makes you feel like you’ve been missing the signs all along and that you could have possibly prevented it if you picked your head up once in awhile.

So, in some respect, the fact that I even have to say the words in the title of this blog post is evidence of all of our issues and stigma about being able to take the time we need to recharge and rejuvenate ourselves. I shouldn’t even have to apologize for being in the hospital because it’s something that I would certainly classify under “unable to be helped, whatsoever.” It’s not exactly like I chose to be there. And yet, I still felt (and still do) that I owed everyone an apology for not acting as expected and for showing up late to my own party, in effect. I feel somehow responsible for a job not done.

But please take it from me: you do not want to realize that you need some down time when a nice nurse is jamming an IV into your hand and you’re being told that you can go home…as soon as your blood pressure climbs down from the rafters. Be kind to yourself out there and listen closely to what you need. And remember that sick days should not be used solely by the sick. Instead, they sometimes need to be used by the perfectly healthy in order to ward off what they are actually intended for.

Make An Excuse

One of my best friends has flown in for the week, so she can spend some quality time with my other best friend and me. We’ve jam-packed a weekend full of touristy spectacles and  gotta-do-at-least-once-adventures. We’re so happy to show her the area because she showed us her town only a few years before. So, we’ve had some time to amass a list of places we had to take her to when she arrived to our domicile, mixing our favorite hangouts with the must-see attractions. We figured we did pretty well, but then again, she has nothing to compare it to.

However, as we discussed our itinerary together, I started to realize that I had not even been to the places that we were planning to go to, and I have lived here my entire life.

What gives? I asked myself. Why hadn’t I visited places that were a mere half hour from me, places that I had heard about but never visited? What was I waiting for?

The answer is nothing. I’ve simply been doing what everyone, everywhere does. You put off going somewhere, anywhere really, until a special occasion. You zip out to foreign waters for vacation, discovering new places and having new experiences. But the cute little shopping village only one town over is still on your “to do” list. You figure, if you are going to have a vacation, you are going to go somewhere. The problem is that people don’t realize they don’t need to go far to have an adventure. They’ve lived in one place their entire lives, but they don’t really know what it’s all about.

So, what should you do? Well, you need to make an excuse. I know, counterintuitive, right? But you need to make an excuse in order to excuse yourself from your daily responsibilities. So that you can visit or do something you’ve never done before, simply in the spirit of doing something new. For me, it took one of my friends to come on a plane for me to decide that I should do something a bit different and live outside of my little box. But if I wait for her each time, well, I’ll be spending a lot of time waiting. This way, if I start now, I can at least have something new to show her and share with her when she comes again.

In the end, we all need to make time for ourselves sometimes. But more than that, we need to make excuses. We need to tell ourselves that it is A OK to visit somewhere just because it is there or do something because we want to. The point is, we should all try to see an old place in a new way so that we can all see ourselves in a new way too.

Need a Vacation? Then Stop Taking Life So Seriously.

As you may or may not know, I took a “brain break” last week, which, if you were wondering, is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of coming home and running to the gym or, yes, writing this blog, I just didn’t. I came home, I watched Jeopardy!, I read a bit, and then promptly feel asleep. Every night.

And I  h a t e d  it. 

But the saddest part? I thought I needed the break from my writing. I thought it would help me to reduce some stress and exhale outside of the paper bag I was hyperventilating into. I thought if I sat cross-legged in my room and wrote in my journal (just for me) I would achieve some sense of calm because I wasn’t under pressure. But strangely enough, it only made me miss writing even more. It made me miss the sheer panic I always experience when I don’t have something to write about and the irony that washes over me when I do encounter something so strangely perfect during the course of my day. Writing this blog awakens me to the little nuances and coincidences in life that I wouldn’t be reflecting on if I didn’t have a platform to express them on. I’m not really sure why I thought pushing away my passion would be a good move for a week, but I can tell you, I felt even more burnt out without it.

So, how is that possible? How does exerting more energy give you a better quality of life? Well, it depends on what you are investing your time in. Are your ventures decidedly fruitless but you continue with them as if they aren’t? Do you find yourself wishing for more time to do other activities, rather than the things that are on your plate? Am I starting to sound like a poorly scripted infomercial?

Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, then your first reaction is invariably, “I need a vacation.” Time away from the office, the kids, your family, even your significant other. All I need is a girls’ night, you exclaim as you let your hair out of that matronly bun. I could really do with a night with the guys, you think to yourself as you pass by the bar in the daytime. But you don’t need any of those things. What you need to do is stop taking life so seriously.

We only feel that we need a vacation or time away when we feel like we are having trouble coping with all of the stressors in our life. But if you just admit to yourself that not everything is going to have your full, undivided attention, that not everything is going to go perfect, and that you are (believe me, I’m an expert) going to make a mistake and make a fool out of yourself, then every day of your life will feel like a vacation. The sooner you acknowledge this simple fact, the sooner you can stop scouring blogs for the answers to why you feel so empty and tired all of the time (but keep coming back to my blog. I’ll stroke your ego anytime.) The sooner you can take a bite of all that and swallow it down, the sooner you can start laughing at yourself (but don’t choke), which everyone, absolutely everyone, needs to start doing. Even if your laughter turns into uncontrollable sobbing. That’s cool. This is a judgement-free zone.

So, play when you want to. Work when you have to. But do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. Poke a little fun at yourself, and see how fast you can shelve that 2-week getaway to the Bahamas. You deserve a vacation, but before you spend the money, try taking one from yourself.