I don’t always know when to rest. I like to get up early; it is how I prepare myself for whatever may lie ahead. I like to stay up late; it is quiet and I can gather my thoughts up and sort them into piles from most to least important. I prefer saying “yes” to saying “no”, often finding myself at the bottom of a laundry lists of obligations and expectations that I chained myself to willingly. I add miles to my jogs to keep going…and going…and going. So it should come as no surprise that it takes a freight train to tell me to stop.
Last month, I got the message. In the midst of a successful season of 10K training, my body started saying “no” when it had previously said “yes”. I felt fatigued beyond the normal mom-of-3-teacher-runner fatigue. I would sit down and my eyes would involuntarily close. It felt often like a foot on my chest, bearing down and taking my breath away. My always-low heartrate slowed, and slowed, and slowed, frequently dropping into the 30s. I did what I hate to do then- I went to the doctor. I was told to stop running. I was sent for more tests, revealing an arrhythmia, and later, some leaky valves. Neither of these are earth-shattering, or even particularly noteworthy, diagnoses. I am fine. But I am still under orders to REST.
I am uncomfortable, itching to get back at it. I am in the midst of essays, a looming graduation speech, and a couple of outrageously large cupcake orders. Rest seems impossible and inconvenient. But my body is still telling me- Nope, I’m not doing that today, lady. I am waiting for one more test. And while I do, I am trying to take in the message. I am taking it easy- which isn’t easy at all. And in all honesty, I’m not even doing a very good job of it. Just yesterday, I took on another task. Some days, I feel pretty good, and I overdo it. And then my body taps me on the shoulder and reminds me, Hey, not yet, dude.
But I am going to try to take away a positive message this month and focus on shifting priorities. I am going to form my lips into a clear NO until it is a practiced skill. I am going to play badminton in the yard with the girls and leave the vacuum in the corner for a bit. I’m going to listen to my heart, which is beating a tired reminder to slow down. I’d like to stay I will lessen stress, but let’s face it, I have 2 1/2 weeks left in a room full of restless 17-year-olds punctuated by nights with a 4-year-old who hates to sleep. So, you know, stress levels are sort of unavoidable. Either way, I am following my post on running, which ironically I wrote right before I was told to stop, with a post on resting. And I’m going to say to you, too, that it is OK to rest. Our society makes rest seem lazy, careless, irresponsible. But rest is necessary, healing, valuable. Rest allows us to be the people we were intended to be.