Slow Me Down

iGnite - slow down imagePoint to Ponder:

Do you, like me, find yourself in a perpetual state of busy, cluttered and indecisive thinking and unable to hear your heart?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

A little over one month ago and upon seeking wisdom from a council of three wise friends, I was planning to take a two month sabbatical from May 10 – July 6th.  What led to this decision was a state of mental and spiritual fatigue, confusion and consistently feeling “off.” I wasn’t feeling joyful, even though I had everything to feel joyful about.  I felt like a robot, was indecisive, lacked motivation and was having to give myself regular pep talks.  I found myself feeling inadequate and worrying about things I rarely worry about, like:  iGnite, questioning my purpose, feeling like I didn’t have value and whether or not people liked or approved of me. The ongoing experience that was most frightening was that I couldn’t get out of my head and hear my heart — and my heart has always been my greatest guide.  I was instead constantly thinking, problem solving, and trying to figure everything out.  Honestly, I thought I had lost the ability to hear my spirit.  Embarrassingly, not once did I think this could just be the result of fatigue.  Instead, I thought I needed to work harder — because that’s the solution to everything, right?!? – HA!  I prayed regularly and tried cleaning up my diet and taking better care of myself: getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep and eliminating all caffeine, gluten, sugar, etc.  Actually, I did feel better, but I still lived in my busy and chatty brain, and still couldn’t hear my heart.  It wasn’t until I met with my wise council and put everything on the table that they diagnosed me as being tired and needing a sabbatical.  They knew exactly what I was going through because they too had been there.  They shared similar life experiences, validated how I was feeling and promised that all of my symptoms could be reversed with a break: a few months of wearing fewer hats, slowing down and letting my mind rest. Seriously, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to be validated and learn that I wasn’t going crazy!

When I told my business coach Martha Lynn Mangum about my decision to take a sabbatical, she too validated my feelings and my plan by telling me her own personal sabbatical stories and how vital they were and are to her health and her ability to personally and professionally thrive.  In hindsight, this is a total no-brainer, as I know the importance of rest and taking a break.   I’m the first person to encourage and cheer on our team leaders (or anyone for that matter) to go on vacations and have regular getaways, as it’s a critical part of wellness.  But, I don’t play by the same rules. The big revelation that came out of this was that I have attached the majority of my worthiness and value to iGnite, just as could be done in any relationship or job.  My fear was that if I wasn’t “doing it all” I’d disappoint people and feel invaluable. This is total head-case thinking, I know!!  It’s during these head-case times of mine that Martha says, laughing, “we are silly, silly people.”

Ironically, about six weeks ago, while I was in the midst of all of my confusion, iGnite member Frances Netherton sent me a poem called Slow Me Down, Lord by Orin L Crain.  Frances’ step-mother had recently passed away, and while cleaning out some of her things Frances found the hand-written poem.  The reason this was ironic is because it pegged my feelings and desire perfectly.  It was as if Frances knew, but she didn’t.  And, most interestingly the poem was written in 1957, by a man!  What this tells me was that if a man in the 1950’s was in need of being slowed down, Frances’ sweet step-mother was in need of being slowed down, and I was in need of being slowed down, then it is likely that you too are in need of rest and being slowed down at some point. 

Due to Russell’s new job and getting everything in order to move San Diego, I have postponed my sabbatical until an unknown later date, but I have promised myself that it will happen and Martha is my accountability partner.  If you are like me and have found yourself in a perpetual state of busy, cluttered and indecisive thinking and unable to hear your heart, I encourage you to be an advocate for your spirit and rest. It doesn’t have to be a full-on sabbatical, rather start with taking one thing off of your plate that will free up some time and space for rest and BEING.  Even though we Americans associate non-busy time with laziness (at least I do), that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is certainly value in working towards goals, having projects, being motivated, and doing for others, but it can’t be done at the expense of your physical, mental and spiritual heath. Hard work and full and busy days, weeks, months and years must be met and balanced with quiet and stillness.  Interestingly, it’s during the restful and serene moments when life reveals its greatest secrets.

Read the inspiring poem Slow Me Down, Lord by Orin L. Crain here.

Action Item:

Be an advocate for your spirit and rest.

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