On Hitting the Pause Button

Burnout, withdrawal, whatever you want to call it, I just NEEDED A MINUTE.

I know some people announce their social media breaks and others don’t, and I honestly didn’t plan it, but rather quietly slipped away. I’ve been faithfully blogging weekly for nearly a year plus guest posting and writing for several other publications as well. This pace was all well and good until it wasn’t.

I might be the last person on Earth who doesn’t know her Enneagram number, but I’m sure if I actually took the test there would be an explanation for the way I immediately jump to worst-case scenario thinking. Whatever that number is, that’s me. Anyway, I’ve been dealing with minor health issues that are on the cusp of being resolved, but have been brewing for a while and were nagging enough that I had to cut out any unnecessary stressors.

You know those catchy song lyrics, “I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands…wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older.”  That’s been playing on loop in my mind. Everything was suddenly TOO MUCH. And I recognized the need for a timeout.

Hit the pause button.

Taking a break from my computer, I dove back into all of my old tricks for reducing stress: fresh air, walks on the beach, happy hour with good friends, and time with my kids–including introducing my daughter to Elle Woods and ping-pong battles with my 8-year-old. A massage would have been dreamy as well, but even after two years, I can’t bring myself to book an appointment. Read more about that here, if you’re interested.

It was jarring, actually, how allowing room in my days for silence and just being brought absolute clarity to a few things that were previously blurry.

Well, something wonderful happened during this particular funk. In the midst of a couple weeks of introspection and straightening out priorities, several new military spouse friends from all corners of the country reached out to offer encouragement, prayers, and even opened doors to opportunities that I wouldn’t have had room for had I not recently pruned back and created space. This community is incredible. They wouldn’t let me slip away and hide. A few friends, without even knowing details of my suffering, virtually grabbed my arm and pulled me back up onto firm ground. And I am so grateful. These women have certainly had their fair share of crappy months, and made me feel so much less alone.  

Do you know that I was a teensy bit scared that when I opened my computer to write that the words wouldn’t come? That I was done with this blogging business for good? But the words did come, and I realized my love for writing has remained. And it’s OK and perfectly healthy to take breaks. In fact, summer’s coming fast and I can assure you I’ll be spending my days on the beach with my kids and not writing about it. But, I’ll be back because it turns out this is how I make sense of life and all the craziness of motherhood, military life, and all the rest. I’m connected to a community here, too, and the friends I’ve made through writing are genuine and I’d miss them too much.

An essay titled, We Live, in Jen Hatmaker’s Of Mess and Moxie, has been my lifeline and go-to affirmation lately. Health is wealth, and I obviously have a tight grip on the illusion that I’ll be protected and spared forever and ever. While I’d love to type out the entire chapter, here is a snippet from the We Live chapter:

“The truth is, God created us with resiliency. Mankind is incredibly able to heal, to rise back up, to stare down pain with moxie. Jesus strengthens our minds for the task of recovery. We’ve got chops, girls. Pain is universal; there is no avoiding it, no system that will sidestep struggle. This terrible, mean voice screams out, ‘What did you do wrong? How did you go so terribly off the script?’ when life bursts at the seams, but that’s a lie. Life can be hard because life can be hard. We’re not doing it wrong. What matters is excavating our pluck from the rubble and refusing to be defined by loss. Sometimes it looks like fury, sometimes determination, activated by a flash of our eyes and a straightening or our spines. Rather than cower under its weight, we force pain into a partnership, using it to grow, to learn, to catapult us into a deeper, wider, sturdier life.”

You can maybe see why I re-read this chapter whenever I feel the tug of fear and doom at the slightest sign of pain. It’s a pep talk and dose of truth wrapped in one.

So, here’s what I know to be true:

  1. It’s OK to take a break and hit the pause button occasionally. Bob Goff is one of my favorites and one of his sayings is “It’s Thursday, quit something.” Not terrible advice if your plate is filling up.
  2. All it takes is one friend to remind you of the hope in life and pull you out of a pit.
  3. WE LIVE. And as Jen ends her chapter, I say “Hallelujah.”