The Challenge of Savasana

I have been increasing my exercise regimen lately as I’m really recovering well. It is difficult to explain to people what it is like to recover from burnout. It has been a difficult process for me to learn when I’m overdoing it, when to push a bit harder and when to rest.

I’m not so good with rest. I like to push myself – that has always been my default. I like to make the most of opportunities to grow and to achieve. I don’t like wasting time. It has been very difficult for me to force myself to rest, to slow down and to find time to care for myself properly during this recovery period.

I am not yet able to resume my running as cardio exercise is still too hard on my recovering adrenal glands. I walk for about an hour or two per week and I am able to do yoga classes. I do flow yoga which is wonderful for stability and strength, as well as the hot yoga which builds flexibility and balance. In the hot yoga I am able to sustain a minute at a time of cardio, interspersed with a few minutes of rest in a posture called savasana or corpse pose.

savasana

It occurred to me recently that I might not be the only one who struggles to rest, or to stay in savasana for long. At the end of the class, the instructor usually advises you to stay on your back and to absorb the benefits of the class. In the old days, pre-burnout, I would feel too indulgent and lazy to do that. I’d jump up and get showered and off to the next commitment. I think this behaviour and thinking is part of how I burned out in the first place.

I didn’t feel entitled to just lie there for a few minutes after an intense 90 minute class of pushing myself beyond my limits. I wonder how many of us feel this way. I was entitled to that rest and I should have reveled in it. I’m learning to do that now but it isn’t very natural. I’m trying to change my thinking to ensure that I do rest after pushing myself, and not only in yoga.

It seems hard for many of us to surrender, to just relax and to let things flow. We try to control and to change things to go the way we want them to. Of course, it’s important to have goals and to work towards things in life. But sometimes we need to surrender, to fully relax into the space and to let go.

In my days as an ultra-marathon runner, I remember how important it was to take rest days. It is common for new runners to experience overuse injuries because they haven’t learnt to prioritise rest. In the days before a big race, one also has to taper off training and mileage in an exerted effort to rest the body before an event that will be grueling. It’s a pity that I was able to execute on these principles for running, but I failed to apply them to the rest of my life.

It is in the rest periods that we gain the benefits of the hard work we do. 

As an introvert, I didn’t schedule recovery time after busy social engagements and work days. After highly stressful periods of work, I didn’t prioritise self-care and recuperation time. With small children, there is no respite from the demands of childcare and I didn’t fight hard enough for rest. One of the biggest lessons I learnt from burnout is to prioritise this recovery time and to insist on a life-savasana.

I haven’t written for a while as it is a really busy time of year. It is the end of the school year so there is a mad rush to finish everything before the Christmas holidays. Birthdays from November and December are squashed into a few weeks. I have attended eight extra mural demonstrations and a bunch of children’s parties in the past few weeks, as well as attending to the many last-minute demands from schools.

It is exhausting, and it’s hard to make progress on my own initiatives in this environment. I am also facing a long school holiday at home with two kids in my space. But I have decided to surrender into it. I hope to let go of my own plans and to indulge in the rest and the fun with my children over the holidays. I make the explicit exception of my book, since it is a very high priority in my life and my career, so I will make every effort to work on it as much as possible to ensure a launch early next year. In any case, writing feeds me, so it’s not as if working on my book will be tiring.

Savasana

Here’s to surrender, to savasana, and embracing the well-deserved rest that this holiday season offers.

Avoiding Leadership

For most of my life I have avoided leadership. I occasionally get feedback from people who know me, or my merry pack of healers where they say something like “You know you’re a leader, right?” I smile and know that I’m avoiding leadership again.

When I was in junior school, I was selected as a ‘monitor’. I didn’t think much of it but I rose to the challenge and I did what was expected of me. When I was in high school I did not expect to be appointed as a prefect. It was a huge shock to me and I remember wondering if I really heard my name being called. I went home quite amused and pleased that others had noticed my capacity to lead. I’m didn’t do a perfect job of it and I recall some failures in that role quite clearly.

leadership

There are definitely times in my life where I have hidden from the spotlight and tried to blend into the background. The reasons for that are too complex and perhaps not so interesting to go into in one blog post. But I do struggle being seen. It is something I have worked on this year because my future entails spreading awareness about burnout and to do that, I need to be seen.

In one exercise I did at a workshop, I had to stand in front of a group of people who stared at me for several minutes. It was excruciating for me. I know that they felt and sent love and approval, by the nature of the people attending the workshop. And still how much I struggled to be seen and to receive.

This is something I know I need to work on. And this theme of leadership keeps emerging for me. It was my team mates at work who encouraged me to push for my first promotion. And once I was in a leadership position, I enjoyed it. I like setting the direction and working on the team dynamic, promoting harmony and steering everyone in the right direction.

In my role as business owner, I got involved in networking functions where I was quickly put in charge of running meetings. I had to relinquish this responsibility when I became too sick to work. At work, during our company restructure, I found myself too weak to lead. A bad leader was selected and I found that I could not follow him. Certainly, I needed to recover before starting something new but it is telling for me. I can follow, but I can only follow a very strong leader. Otherwise, I need to be leading.

leadership

In being sick, and recovering from burnout I have retreated from many social and work-related engagements. To heal, it was necessary to scale down outings and work engagements. However, it is tricky to break back into the circles and let everyone know that you are ready to participate again. I feel a little rejected and uncertain that I’ll be welcome back because some people don’t understand fully why I needed to withdraw.

I’m finding myself at the point where I want to start networking to spread the word of my new offerings and to look for opportunities to speak. I have to work on my own personal brand and to be clear on what I offer. I need to hone my elevator pitch and to project confidence. At times I do feel a little shaky and unsure of my new career but I’m hoping that it will take shape as I practice more. I’m facing a lot of rejection and difficulties in the months ahead as I begin to sell the new me. It’s really difficult to push forward and to be resilient in the face of rejection and apathy around something I feel so strongly about.

I have been working on my book again this week and it has brought me so much joy. I have a rule that I take an afternoon nap on the days that I exercise but there is one exception to that. If I’m writing, I don’t need the nap and I’ve come to realise it’s because writing energises me. I’m in flow when I’m writing and I don’t get tired. I need more of it in my day and I must work on structuring my day accordingly. I even have an idea for my next book and I’m putting together some basic ideas.

So the question remains, why am I avoiding leadership? I think it’s because it’s hard and it’s lonely. It’s much easier to blame your boss for your horrible job. It’s much easier to follow a list of performance indicators someone else has set for you. It’s really hard to stare at a blank canvas and to design your life and career. It’s a scary prospect to set the direction and not have anyone guiding or helping me. But I think I’m up for the challenge. I think it’s time I stopped avoiding leadership.

My Introversion affects my Extroverted child

I’m an introvert. My introversion shows in that I get very tired being around people for a long time, although I do need interaction. It also shows in that I don’t like a lot of noise and I don’t enjoy small talk. I enjoy meaningful conversations about real things that actually matter. I love being alone. I feel lonely when I’m in a crowd, particularly of people who don’t get me.

I have two children: one introvert, almost eight years old, and one extrovert, who is five years old. My extroverted husband and I became more attentive to each other’s needs and that of our children after we read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. I tend to fight for our introverted daughter’s needs because my husband might not always be aware of what drains her energy, and what she needs. I also try to make sure things are a little more exciting for our little one. I play music in the car when she’s there, and I do a lot of tickles and playing YouTube videos on my phone to stimulate her.

We have also explained to them that they have different needs, and to be mindful of what the other one needs. We often tell our youngest to give our oldest a little space due to her introversion, and I have explained to our oldest that our youngest gets bored without a lot of stimulation. We try to help them to be aware so that they know when to withdraw to recharge, and how to notice that someone has become overstimulated.

Introversion

Our oldest daughter’s introversion was painfully obvious, right from the start. Many people mistake introversion for colic but it shows up as babies becoming overstimulated and crying incessantly. As a baby, our oldest would get overstimulated easily and would wake up and cry for hours in the early hours of the morning. She needed me to hold her tight in a room with dim light, patting her and saying ‘shh, shh, shh’ gently as I tried to soothe her. I, too, have felt that I needed to be held and soothed in a dim, quiet room at the end of a busy day but sadly, that doesn’t happen.

Our second child screamed blue murder at eight weeks old when we tried to put her to bed on Christmas day. She knew that there were people around and she was not prepared to miss out. Finally, I put her in a stroller on the patio so that she could see everyone, and eventually she drifted off in the midst of the family meal.

Our introverted child has few friends but she builds strong bonds with them. Our extroverted child has a lot of friends and she values them a great deal. She keeps asking me if we can invite them all around for Christmas day and my answer is ‘No, Christmas is for family.’  She frowns as if I completely misunderstand her.

She is transitioning from preschool to ‘big’ school in the next few months. Her classes will be bigger and she will form some wonderful friendships in the next thirteen years of school. She gets quite upset if she is not included in some event with the current preschool kids, like a play date or a dinner between two families. I don’t see these friendships as really important since she is unlikely to see them after December. I have also tried to explain that we don’t get invited to every event but it’s no use, she’s not convinced.

Behind her expression I imagine her thinking ‘Well, YOU don’t get invited to every event.’ Because I’m quite happy not to be invited to everything. I’m happy to be at home. This time of year is already so busy and I’m quite content missing out on a few dinners and play dates. But she’s not.

I think it’s exacerbated by the fact that I left the mother’s WhatsApp group. I have been recovering from burnout for two years. The relentless jokes about wine which I’m unable to drink, became boring. The sense of rejection became too much when I felt when I could not (and didn’t want to) get drunk at the mom dinners. I’m not in high school anymore and I’m too busy recovering from chronic illness to care.

I haven’t received a deluge of help and support from the group. I’ve felt patronised by the effort to exclude the alcohol from my portion of the bill. I’ve been drunk and reckless, in my early twenties. It does not fit in my life now. I don’t need to conform because I’m quite happy being me.

But in the last while I felt a tug between being authentically me, and trying to make my child happy. I felt guilty for not being the extroverted mom who is the centre of the social circle, telling stories about drunken moms’ exploits. I felt guilty for being the boring introvert who’d rather be at home reading. I wondered about the life lessons that will be learned by my child, and by me, in trying to find a good balance.

Introversion

The tug didn’t last long because I know that I have to be authentic. I have to make peace with being who I am, and my daughter will have to learn to accept that. I do my best to accept and to love her just as she is, so she will have to return the favour. I hope she doesn’t spend her life resenting me for what I could not offer her. I cannot be false and pretend to be a forty-one-year old party animal. I have to be me. And I’m hoping that she will appreciate that one day, even if it leads to some disappointment in the short term.

Where did the Resentment go?

In the past few years I have felt great resentment when it came to spending a lot of time doing things for the kids. This weekend, however, I felt none of it. I really enjoyed making Halloween outfits for them. Our oldest wanted to be a witch and her little sister, the accompanying cat. I made shoes and I put together their costumes, and spent only a minuscule amount of money.

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The girls had fun and we were able to chat to our neighbours and friends. The kids are also bigger and can cope with having a tail and carrying a broomstick. We all had such an enjoyable time and it was quite different to how I experienced the last time we attended the same event, two years ago.

Then, I was heading towards burnout and wasn’t really aware of what was happening to me. When you experience burnout, the stress makes you really irritable and it is very difficult to be patient. I was not blessed with much patience to begin with, so in my illness I became really grumpy. To top it off, irritability is also a symptom of hyperthyroidism.

I have been wondering why the resentment is gone, and I think there are three reasons. Firstly, my recovery is reaching a new level. My doctor said that we are merely building my reserves now in terms of adrenal health. That makes sense since I still need to sleep on the days that I exercise. My thyroid antibodies are far reduced so it shows that my lifestyle changes are having a positive effect on my health.

The second reason is that I found something I can get out of the time investment, specifically creating something. It was great fun thinking of ideas and brainstorming with the kids. We all put together ideas of what each costume needed and my creative juices started to flow. I made them both shoes from old scruffy shoes that were close to being thrown out. I used paper-mâché to make the shape and then painted and embellished them.

The third, and final reason I think the resentment is gone, is that I have spent enough time catching up on looking after me. I got resentful when I had to sacrifice a lot and I was so depleted. I feel that I have started to fill the tank of self-care to the point where I can now give again. Not to a point of depletion, but in bits and pieces. Giving in this respect was rewarding and fun, so it didn’t feel like a great effort.

Resentment

I spend a lot of time thinking about my process of recovery. Of course, I wonder if I could have done things differently to speed it up. Mostly, I wish I had discovered functional medicine much earlier as it has had a huge impact on my recovery. I have done so much research on my health conditions that I’m now at the point of saturation. I don’t think there is much more I could implement in terms if lifestyle change. I’m not foolish enough to think I know everything. But I feel that I know enough and that I’m doing enough. There comes a point where the focus on health becomes unhealthy and I don’t want to reach that point.

I’m exercising now and enjoying it. I’m not able to do real cardio exercise but that will come in time. I am feeling quite bored intellectually, however, and I see this as a sign of recovery. I don’t have big, scary goals and that frightens me a bit. I don’t like floating and drifting. I want to be working, to be delivering something meaningful and helping people. My book is coming along slowly and I’m hoping that it will be complete by the end of the year. I’m wondering what next year looks like for me. Hopefully, filled with fun, opportunities to help people and to make a difference in the world.

Grief Brings Perspective

Our cat passed away this weekend and I’m amazed at how much I feel the loss. I spent a lot of time with her in the past few years, being at home recovering from burnout. I would love just one more day with her. I’d love watch her scamper off the bed to herd me towards her bowl in the morning. She followed me around the house, and even meowed at me angrily when I closed myself in the sanctuary to work. She talked to me when I got out the shower and when I leaned down, she would jump up on her hind legs for a kiss. She loved the afternoon naps I took most days and at night, she snuggled at my chest all night. I do miss her terribly and the house doesn’t feel the same without her.

Perspective

The experience of grief has shifted my focus. I feel like I have gained perspective, and I realise that love is the only real thing in the world. Being with the ones we love, appreciating them and being present becomes paramount. The shared loss seems to have bound us together as a family. And all those niggly irritations fade into the distance.

I was frustrated with myself for not giving my best at my last Toastmasters speech. I was disappointed that I’m stagnating and that I am not applying the cumulative lessons from each speech. I became complacent and I didn’t push myself. It’s hard trying to balance self-care with progress and I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I push too hard and other times I’m not applying enough challenge. Being in flow means that challenge and skill are matched, and I’ve noticed I’m letting my skill fall behind.

In the wake of losing our special pet, that all seems irrelevant. I took a few days to just be with my family and to remember our special little cat. For such a small being, she had a great impact. Many people such as family, friends and house sitters, have all shared our grief and all commented on what a lovely cat she was.

It made me think about how we often feel insignificant – that no one cares about us. Imagine how much someone would miss you if so many people notice the loss of a little cat? We have a greater impact than we realise. We can probably make a bigger difference than we think we can. It’s worthwhile realising how much we mean to those we love, and to relish our relationships while loved ones are still here.

Are you Playing Small?

Today I was reminded about the choices we make, and the possible lives we could lead. When we leave school, it’s a time when we are probably the happiest. We get to be independent but without all the responsibilities that come with being an adult. It is the time where we choose our path, mould our identity in the form of a career and get to have a lot of fun. It doesn’t occur to us that at some point in our future, we may choose to play small.

After school I went to university. I really had to fight and be patient for the privilege of going away to university. I knew that I would have a lot more fun studying in another city from my dysfunctional family so I persisted. And eventually I got to go. It was the first time in my life I got to be young and irresponsible. My childhood didn’t allow that, so I really let my hair down at university. I didn’t do as well academically as I could have, but it was a worthwhile trade off for being able to be reckless and carefree.

I know someone who suffered a great sadness around this time. Someone very smart. Someone who everyone expected to excel in life. I’m wondering how she feels now about what could have been. That event seemed to break her spirit and she never recovered. It looks to me that she made the choice to play small, and I don’t think that serves anyone. I don’t think it’s what God wants, and it doesn’t make you noble or humble. In my view, it’s a lost opportunity to offer gifts to the world. Unique, special gifts that we all possess.

Play small

The definition of success is certainly not the same for everyone. Being a successful mother is a very difficult thing to attain, and I’m not sure there are many who feel that they will ever reach that success. I value being a good parent and offering my children all the love and support I feel I didn’t get in my childhood. But it is not everything.

Being true to myself means that I want to achieve professionally. I have things to do in this life and they are big, scary and exciting. I don’t want to look back with regret. I don’t want to feel that I never lived up to my true potential. I want to die knowing that I did something great in my life. Something I’m really proud of. I want to know that I stretched myself and that it was worth it.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to push myself, or to learn to accept life just as it is. It’s no wonder I suffer from fatigue with all that driving towards success and obsession with achievement. But I believe that life is for living. I am an advocate of packing life full of experiences. I want my existence to make a difference to the world. I want to leave it better for me having followed my calling and given my absolute best.

Play small

That’s the example I want to give my children. Psychologist Carl Jung said that “nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

My children wont have to worry about my unlived life, that’s for sure. I may suffer and struggle a great deal but I will have a life that is lived, as fully as I’m capable of. I will not play small.

Smell the Roses

Lately I’ve needed a reminder to stop and smell the roses. I’ve been so focused on getting well and preparing for a new career that I am failing to enjoy life fully.

Roses

I’ve been really focussed on stepping up the exercise and a bit annoyed that I have to step up the rest as my body adjusts to the new normal. I remember my running days when I could run five kilometers easily in half an hour. Now a five kilometer walk takes me an hour. And I can’t even run one kilometer. That’s not because I’m unfit. It’s because I am recovering from burnout.

Instead of trying to beat my body into submission, I took the advice I received recently. We live near a river and last week I decided to take an amble next to the river. There are risks in walking near the river as you can encounter the occasional vagrant and some criminals hide out in hard-to-see spots. We have better security than we used to so I thought it reasonably safe to take a walk at a leisurely pace for a change.

What a different experience than pounding the pavement, dodging traffic and begrudgingly greeting runners (out of jealousy of course). It was as if I was deep in nature. I noticed birds and butterflies, the sound of water flowing over the rocks and a sense of calm came over me. The traffic melted into the distance and I didn’t feel that I had to beat my previous best walk any time soon.

Sometimes a shift in perspective is all we need to have some sort of breakthrough. I now find the walks peaceful and enjoyable. The frustration I felt before is no longer there and I’m being a lot more gentle on myself as I acclimatise to exercise again. I also had some new insights on what to do for my work opportunities. I’ve realised that I want to work on sales and marketing, using what I learnt in my business. I can apply many of the same lessons and tools I used there into my new career. Now, however, I have to brand and market myself which will be a new experience.

It is hard to explain to someone what it feels like to experience a burnout. There are those who think a short run will sort me out. I tried to jog 300 meters a few weeks ago and I slept for hours that afternoon and slept right through my alarm clock to fetch my daughter. The recovery requirement from physical exertion and stress is significant for me at the moment.

roses

There are others who tell me not to do any exercise, but that doesn’t work either as my body needs to move to be healthy. I’m working on this inflammation in my back which is assisted by yoga and biokinetics. I think the main lesson for me is to take it slow and to be gentle with myself. Slowly, I will become stronger and my body will become accustomed to exercise again. I look forward to a time when I can do a run without major recovery needed. But that is still in the future and there is much to learn in the meantime. Like how to brand myself as a writer, speaker and workshop host.

The Struggle is Too Great at Times

Today was a difficult day for me. I’m starting a new career in my forties, leaving behind things that I know and am good at. Since my burnout, I have had to make drastic changes to my life. My body collapsed and it was a message to change. At times the struggle feels too great and today is one of those days.

I have worked really hard on healing my body in as many ways as I can. I tackled rest: I schedule recovery time after something demanding (physically or emotionally), I nap some afternoons if I have been taking strain and I try to get to sleep earlier than I used to. It makes for a rather boring existence, all this resting and sleeping. Not much time for achievement and that is difficult for someone who likes to achieve.

Struggle

I have worked on my diet. I have given up gluten, some dairy, peanuts, cabbage, caffeine, alcohol and I have reduced sugar. I make a green smoothie everyday which is tiresome and makes it trickier to get my children to school on time. I eat every three hours which is also a pain and interferes with getting things done. I try to eat real food and I cook a lot. This also takes time and often I just feel like caving in and eating a chocolate chip cookie. The vigilance to eat well is exhausting.

I have worked on the emotional side of healing. I have sought out the help of a variety of healers and I have done my own work on letting go, forgiveness and meditation to calm the stress. All of this also takes up time, and I often feel reluctant to spend the twenty minutes emptying my mind when there is so much to be done.

I have two small children who also require my time and attention. I am trying to help my oldest foster good relationships. She is an introvert and I haven’t spent much time accommodating play dates and suggesting sleepovers while I have been recovering. I also like to be fair and ensure that my little one doesn’t feel left out. I try to spend some time with each of them to help them know that they are both loved and accepted by their mother. Of course, there is also keeping them healthy, cooking for them, buying them a variety of things for school, homework and parties to organise.

I have addressed my hernia, and my thyroid function is improving enough to visit my endocrinologist again. My adrenal glands are recovering slowly and I’m hoping it is a month or two until they are up to normal function. One of the few things remaining to address is my weak back muscles. My shoulders are compensating for the weak back muscles which is causing inflammation, and inflammation is bad for anyone with an autoimmune disease. But I am really struggling. I am trying to do the push-ups but it is so unbelievably difficult for me that I collapse after about four of them. And the motivation to do something that I’m struggling so much with, is really tough.

I entered a Toastmaster’s humorous speech contest on Thursday. It was a stretch for me as I prefer to do speeches that are more around motivation, and less about entertainment. I participated, and I got a good few hearty laughs. It was enough for me to participate and not to win, as I am new to speaking and there are many who are far more experienced than I am. But I still felt that I’m not an expert at it and that is difficult for me.

I submitted a few proposals last week for some workshops and speaking opportunities to corporates. It was an excellent experience for me to talk to people to understand what they ask, what they want, and to see how I can offer something to meet their needs. I got a few tough questions which were hard to answer. I felt quite out of practice being in a corporate environment, with politics, procedures to follow and hoops to jump through. I cannot lean on my reputation as I used to.

Struggle

Someone asked me what was so special about me that they should choose me to work with. I have started to wonder the same thing myself. I really wanted my book to be published first, and then to seek all the other opportunities as a published author. But that hasn’t happened as is often the case in life. I was banking on leaning on that accomplishment so that I felt worthy.

All of this has left me with feelings of doubt and fear. Is there anything that I have to offer? It’s hard spending so much time struggling. I have moments where I want to just do something I’m good at. I’ll even do it for free. Just to feel competent. I’m a new Toastmaster, struggling my way through contests and speeches. I can barely manage to do a few push ups or a yoga class where I can’t quite keep up. I am fumbling my way through promoting my services to organisations I used to be in. I used to be someone capable, who felt on top of things. I liked that feeling. How long will it take before I feel like that in my new career? Years?

I don’t have the option of giving up, however. I can’t go back to the job I had that burnt me out. I want to share my message and to feel that I have something valuable to offer. I want people to be inspired by my message, to find my book meaningful, and to see me as someone worthwhile. I suppose the first step is for me to believe that I am worthwhile so that others can too. I’m just not sure how to do that amidst the struggle of sucking at everything I tackle.

I’m Reaching a New Normal

Things are changing for me at the moment. My functional medicine doctor has confirmed that my health is improving. My third infection has finally disappeared, I need fewer medications and I must now reduce the frequency of check ups to him. It is also time for me to return to my endocrinologist for validation of the improvement in the form of blood tests.

Normal

I have healed my hernia with homeopathic medicines and biokinetics. I am very pleased with this achievement as I avoided surgery which would not have been good for my health. Inflammation is to be avoided as much as possible when you have an autoimmune disease, not to mention the risks and recovery time associated with surgery. Now, I’m working on strengthening some of my back muscles so that my shoulders do not compensate. In that way, I’m removing the last area of inflammation in my body.

My intestinal tract also appears to be healed from my strict diet. My doctor says that it may be possible to reintroduce some foods into my diet soon which would improve my quality of life a great deal. It has been difficult to maintain a diet of green smoothies, bone broths, no gluten, alcohol, caffeine and limited dairy. But it has helped me to heal.

I have also been working on my new career, looking for opportunities and spreading the word. I have new business cards which I am distributing far and wide. I am hoping to co-author a book with a friend, conduct workshops and talks at corporate organisations and follow through on my quest to teach people about burnout.

In the last week, my calendar started filling up. I have had some fun meetings in the past week that fill me with hope about my future. My book will also require a lot of time and effort over the next few months so I need to make space for it. I will need to gain a lot of knowledge around launching and marketing a book.

I am still repairing my body from not being active and I’m trying to gain some strength and fitness. In doing that, however, I expend quite a bit of energy. On days where I exert myself a lot which means a long walk, by the way, I need to sleep in the afternoon. That means I’ve spent two hours exercising and recovering, which takes time from my work.

Normal

I also need time for my family and to keep up with show and tell, library books, dress up, charity initiatives, heritage day eats and the range of things schools expect from us. It is difficult to adjust to a new state of normal. In time as my body becomes more accustomed to exercise I will no longer require the afternoon naps and I will reach yet another level of recovery.

It is difficult, however, to gauge just how much I can take on. I don’t want to turn down opportunities but I also need time to recover from stressful events and the increased exercise. My husband is away this week and I have had some meetings and a speech to deliver. I am learning how to schedule time for recovery from stressful periods. I don’t want my health to slip backwards but I am ready to take on more. It is a really exciting time for me and I do feel full of hope for the future.

Courage to Speak my Truth

I am pleased to say that my book is taking shape again. The truth is, I always knew that the process might be challenging, particularly for the first book. I knew that I would make mistakes and I was really afraid of what I didn’t know. But I gathered my courage and I took the plunge.

I wrote the book when I was in the midst of burnout. I am now on the other side, mostly recovered and things look different from here. From the feedback of friends and my editor, the background chapters were not good. I could not remove them because they were the story of how I became burnt out. It’s not good news and it’s not pleasant reading. But I had to explain how I got there. However, I didn’t want my reader to give up on me and miss out on the seven principles of self-preservation that come later in the book.

Courage truth

It took me many months to realise it but I needed to rewrite the opening chapters with a bit of perspective and distance. When I originally wrote them, I felt angry and confused about getting sick. I was still grappling with the fact that I have a lifelong health condition that will forever need to be managed. Now, I’ve made peace with it, and I’ve reached a stage of acceptance. I am now grateful for everything and everyone who contributed to me burning out, because it created such a positive shift. My life is better, my career is in my hands, and I have everything I need.

The opening chapters now feel like an explanation of how I got there. They don’t feel like I’m defending myself or wallowing in misery anymore. I did, however, include more stories from my childhood that explain more in depth how I felt so alone and unsupported in life. The stories involve both my parents now, instead of just my father. That brought about another problem however, that my mother would be hurt by it.

Of course, there is nothing that is untrue in the stories. Anne Lamott, the novelist, said this about writing our stories: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” 

Courage Truth

I have lost a great deal through my illness. I have ended the relationship with my father because it was truly harmful to my health. I don’t regret that in any way and in fact, I think it was one of the major steps towards recovery for me. With so much lost, I didn’t want to lose my mother too. So I was in turmoil last week about what to do. I took my lunchtime medication before my afternoon nap and woke up with my throat burning. It seems that the medication got stuck and burnt my throat. I see a direct correlation between having my throat injured and swallowing my truth.

So I called my mother and I told her that there are some childhood stories in my book that will be difficult for her to read. I told her that I am not trying to hurt, her and I do not act out of spite or revenge. I need to tell my full story of my life so that my readers can understand how it transpired that I collapsed so fully. And if I had not collapsed, I would still be there. So the outcome is good, but she will not enjoy reading about how she disappointed me as a mother. And it will be stressful for her when other people read about it.

My mother was, and still is upset by it. I do wish I could do something to change that but I cannot. I need to tell my full story and it is a story about me and my struggle. Warning her was far better than her discovering it by reading the book herself, or hearing about it from someone else. I spoke my truth and it took great courage. Both in the book, and to my mother. It had to be done and I’m glad I did it.

I’m hoping that our relationship will survive. People make mistakes in life, especially when they are desperate. I have certainly made many mistakes as a parent. When I do, I ask my children for forgiveness. I have forgiven my mother, mostly for my benefit.

My book is at a higher stage of quality now and I’m pleased about that. There will still be a number of iterations for editing but it’s in a better condition now than when I started. I want to release something that is high quality, preferably with no flaws or mistakes. I want to be proud of what I’ve written and I do feel safe in the hands of an outstanding editor. I step forward into my new career with courage and honesty.