Don’t Just Keep Going. Now and Then, You’ve Got to Stop.

I’m in Mexico right now, alone on a “working holiday”. I’m doing some writing and resting and reflecting on life. I used to take more frequent breaks, but haven’t in quite a while. I used to spend long hours on those breaks journaling, and reading, and staring into space thinking about life. Traveling alone can be quite lonely, shockingly so at times, but it was that loneliness that pushed me deeper into myself, cracking me open and making me think about my life, sometimes just to pass the achingly quiet, slowly ticking hours. I ruminated endlessly and wrote page after page about what I liked, what I didn’t like, who I was, and what I dreamed of. I haven’t done that in a long time.

I still travel a lot, but mostly to speaking engagements, where I grab time on the plane to read as many books as I can (I used to have a lot more time to read in my previous life), then go through the whirlwind of whatever conference I’m speaking at, and then happily collapse into a scalding tub at the hotel, before flying back home the next day.

I am now so busy living all of the elements of my life, the life that I hoped for and planned during all that journaling,  that I apparently forgot how important it is to periodically stop. Here alone in Mexico, I’m processing emotions that have apparently been in hiding since late 2008: grief about deciding to move from Mexico to Canada, and more grief at having had to give up my little flamenco dance company in order to make that move, even though the dance stages and environments where I have been performing lately are taking me to a new, more exciting level.

I didn’t know any of this was there, going on inside me, as for the last year I have just been going, going, going. My weight has been creeping up slightly, and I have been eating more, I think because I had all these unacknowledged transitions inside. I didn’t know that they were there, because I simply hadn’t stopped and been truly alone.

What might you have inside that you’re not aware of? When is the last time that you stopped and were truly alone with yourself, without any of your usual escapes (work, food, sex, television, whatever) at the ready? We live in a society that’s so numbed out, that even those of us with the best intentions end up anaesthetizing ourselves without realizing it, via the deceptive pace of everyday life. It takes time to reach this place of honesty, to really feel your heart and what’s going on inside.

On the first day of this trip I was just so tickled to be able to lounge around all day reading, and nap decadently whenever I wanted. It wasn’t until the second day, when the novelty of all this down-time began to wear off, that I started to feel the real me. Though it hasn’t necessarily been easy to weather this emotional storm of discovery, I’m excited. I can feel that the processing and thinking have been officially closing a chapter of my life, and opening me to prepare for a new one. I’d hate to think of what might have happened if I hadn’t stopped to notice all this and had just kept going.

When’s the last time you stopped and gave yourself the luxury of time to move from relaxing, through “bored”, and into the real you? You don’t have to go all the way to another country; you just need need to get out of your usual environment, away from the usual people and distractions, to somewhere quiet. Somewhere where you can’t escape yourself. You may be surprised by what you observe, feel and discover about yourself and your next steps in life.

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