It has been about two weeks since I have worked on any one of the four WIPs that are scheduled to be release within the next year and I don't feel bad about it. I have been progressively detoxing my mind, my body and as a result my spirit of toxins that accumulated over the course of time from lack of care. I was dehydrated; fatigued; requiring two hour naps in the middle of the day just to recharge; stressed and overwhelmed; anxious and depressed and all from not acknowledging my body's cry for help. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we are bombarded with conflicting messages regarding self care and "grinding". What did Kevin Gates used to say, referring to his work ethic? "I don't get tired" and then he proceeded to throw himself tour after tour, studio session after studio session, promo, promo, promo...
Many of us have adopted this frame of thinking as a means to validate to ourselves and others that we are on the guaranteed path of success, which means we are worthy. But worthy of what? Hundreds of likes and comments on a post where it appears that we are throwing ourselves into overdrive in pursuit of a dollar? A video going viral? Approval from those we admire and respect just so that we can convince ourselves that we are equal?
I began my publishing journey in 2013. I sacrificed whole days, late nights and early mornings just to meet my personal quota of releasing four books a year. I just knew that pushing myself would bring me the fan base that I wanted - that I deserved. But in 2013, I was only working part time at Ross as a fitting room attendant, so I really had the time to devote myself to my craft. But three years later, my life changed: I ended a long term, toxic relationship.
And after that, I went into overdrive.
My desire to prove that I am better than or equal to the authors that (in my mind) I was competing against became my driving force. The desire to prove to those who never supported me, my ex whose harsh words would still haunt me for years to come; and to myself (because I have a permanent home with self doubt) that I am worth respect would dominate my purpose. Two years later, I started a career in the field of human services that would ultimately pull my mental and spiritual health in another direction or better yet added to my growing plate of stress.
Gone were the days of part time work life, I was working full time, plus bouncing between two cities to take my daughter to and from school five days a week. But despite being exhausted, when I came home and did my "mommy" duties, I popped open my laptop and wrote. I promoted. Spending eight hours a day dealing with deadlines, the emotional needs of my clients (which were many); contending with the differing personalities of my boss and coworkers, taking no real time for myself; waking up at the crack of dawn just to have my daughter at school and myself at work at certain times...all of it slowly took a toll.
As more work and more clients stacked on top of me, I tried to distract myself with my quest for "finding the ONE" and let me say, dating is an exhausting game in and of itself. Disappointment after disappointment plus more work, plus having to be mentally present for my teenaged daughter, plus no real moments of self care; plus writing...
It all came to an emotional head two months ago.
In a desperate act to salvage what was left me, I took a two week break from one job and upon conclusion of that vacation, I submitted my two week notice in preparation for something new. The agency that I work for now is less hectic and more organized which gives me a desperately needed BREAK. But even after being newly hired and having the opportunity to work primarily from home, I was still exhausted. But instead of continuing the dangerous cycle of self neglect, I took time to listen to my own needs, the needs of my body and spirit.
I started a fast - no soda, no meat, and no bread for a few days which led to an almost complete change in diet. My body is no longer as exhausted and I feel refreshed and energized. This is what I needed all along. And then, I did one more thing.
I put my pen down. I picked up more books and gave my mind a break from creating. And guess what? I am fully inspired and filled with so many creative ideas I don't know how I am going to put it all out there fast enough. I used to feel guilty if I took a couple of days off from writing. But now, I am at a point where I acknowledge the fact that I am not in competition with no one. I don't have to prove anything and this imaginary race that I was in, was slowly killing me. Rather than working myself to the bone and getting nowhere, I am learning to strategize; to implement a system that does not require hard labor. Working myself to the point of exhaustion is not a badge of honor: it's a death sentence. Not acknowledging my body's needs and that of my spirit is suicide.
Make sure you take care of yourself. Do a daily self inventory check of your feelings. How am I today? What am I feeling? What is my body telling me? I wake up every morning to reflect and journal before I start my day.
So with all of that being said, Happy Mother's Day to all of the mommies out there. Enjoy your day to the fullest!