A fire is crackling in our wood stove, it’s raining outside and I am grateful to be home in our warm little house.
It’s been about ten weeks since I left my job and have been home. I’m sure that other people who have taken a severance package have also had the experience that time doesn’t seem quite real. Since the age of 14 and for most of my life, with the exception of when the kids were young and we homeschooled them, I have worked outside our home somewhere. Most recently I would commute, work for at least nine hours, and be out of the house for about eleven hours a day for my job. It seemed this was the necessary definition of succeeding and providing. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work where I did, because it has given me this time of rest.
For the first few weeks I was home, I wasn’t able to do much. I planned to write and play music, and a million other things that I would finally have time for, but as soon as my body realized that I was going to be able to rest, it forced me to rest. Just to be clear – success for weeks was moving from bed to the shower, back into pajamas and onto the couch. Mentally exhausted and unable to form thoughts or have conversations, I took the time I needed cocooned in soft blankets to rest and care for myself. Fortunately, that has passed for the most part and I am able to do a bit more if I pace it right. I had guessed the level of exhaustion and burn out I had reached was severe, but I did not realize the time and effort it will require to repair the damage that level of stress (for an extended period of time) causes. I am still going at a slow pace and will continue to do so for as long as needed. I enjoy being home and getting a handle on all the things I had put aside just to function at work. We cleaned out a bunch of stuff to donate and had some trash hauled away and are working our way through the house to clean out what we don’t need. I am now spending time organizing my projects and plans for the new year…realistically. I plan to go back to work part time when I find the right job.
The holidays were wonderful and full of the love and generosity of family and friends. I am so grateful for all of the people in our lives. Spending time with everyone has made me realize that 2017 is going to be a year of letting go. Letting go of the requirements I put on myself that are unrealistic, letting go of the negativity that filled 2016, and letting go of thoughts and behaviors that were harmful to my health. I would rather take the time to be healthy and to celebrate the victories and milestones with the people we love and 2017 is already filling with events that will bring great joy.
Having the option to be home and do something different, I am surprised at how easily I am able to let go of those previous definitions and routines and begin to redefine what personal success and provision means. For example, I had to learn the rhythm of heating our home. Getting up in the morning to start a fire, keeping it going all day, getting wood from the shed, cooking on the cooktop and having the house warm when my family arrives home at the end of the day. It sounded simple, but it actually required quite a bit of attention to figure out and make it work.
One of my baking experiments for the holidays was to bake Swedish Coffee Bread in the wood stove. So fun! I am looking forward to many more experiments and adventures in the months to come.