“Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom
Why does it usually take an illness to reclaim our right to leisure?!
The last couple of afternoons, I have had to take a nap. I don’t mean fifteen or twenty minute power naps. I’m talking, bra off, mouth open, drooling, two hour deep sleep naps. Maybe that doesn’t match the definition of a nap, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it . . . while lying down.
I don’t always need a two hour sleep to catch up, but that magic time between 2:30 and 4;30, there will be a moment where the brain says, What is 1 plus 1 again? I don’t care, I need to power down for some shut eye. You hear that eyes? Shut it!
Blaming lack of sleep at night only gets me so far. Last night, I turned the lights out and the wifi off at 9:30 and I’ve been yawning all morning. And as it’s a cloudy day, with rain expected this afternoon, I think it’s a perfect day for another nap — which may or may not turn out to two hours.
And I’m not ashamed.
Sadly, it took a Lyme diagnosis for me to get a place of no shame. Even then, I was using it as an excuse, as permission to rest and nap and take time for myself. And I’m not alone. For many people, it took a global pandemic to finally take some personal time. Why do we think we need permission to slow down?
For me, it stems from a primal fear of abandonment.
If I’m not busy, if I’m not showing you how worthy I am to keep around, I’ll be abandoned, i.e. fired. And yet, I have vacation time that I rarely use. Because I was afraid that if I take a week off, my supervisors will discover how replaceable I am. And that comes from a place where I downplay what I do on a daily basis. Because it comes easier for me, I assume it will come easily for everyone else.
The other night, my group manager called me. I know he’s a jokester, but I still had a moment of OMG, what did I do wrong? when he said, “I’m calling to give you sh*t.” I had written some letters for my manager and he was reviewing them. “I started to notice a pattern,” he said. “And I quickly figured out that the letters that stood out where all from (my manager). I knew then that you must have written them.”
I grimaced. “Uh, ok – was there anything wrong?”
“Quite the contrary,” he laughed. “They were light years above the others in quality!”
That exchange notwithstanding, my company and my client are incredibly supportive and even encourage employees to use their leave. Personally, I have learned to take time off when I need to and not be apologetic about it. This week alone, I have walked away from the work computer at 4 or 4:30 sharp and gone to take my drool-worthy (literally) afternoon siesta.
I understand that not everyone can do this. But that’s my point. Many companies see only the bottom line. And I understand that in order to stay afloat, small companies especially have to have workers who show up. But isn’t being healthy more cost effective in the long run?
Self-care should not be a luxury. It should be something that is natural and encouraged. Otherwise, we run the risk of burning out and our bodies simply shutting down when it all gets to be too much.
And on that note, I’m off to take a nap.
A member of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela D’Eigh is a writer, poet, gardener, mental wellness advocate, and a lover of Scotch, K-Pop, and KDramas. She writes about anything and everything, using all the crayons in the box. Currently, she lives out in the country with two Egyptian gods disguised as cats, a herd of cows, and the occasional flock of wild turkeys.
During the month of April, I’ll be participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge.
My first book, a memoir on grief, will be available Summer 2021. Follow me on the journey to publication!
Image © Eastern cottontail babies, sleeping in the nest, MAG, 2021