"Get some rest."
I don't even want to count how many times I've heard this phrase this month. I figure I'm among friends here, so I'll tell you about my July. Since the end of June, I've had two throat infections, a messed up back (from sleeping on the couch during the first), and a family crisis. It's been a month that makes me look forward to Friday, when it's finally August. I'm still reeling a bit from it, trying to accept some tough new realities and processing through the emotions and implications on my life, my work and my family.
Different seasons of life bring different challenges. Sometimes issues arise out of a long line of decisions that are made over a lifetime. Sometimes catastrophes come out of nowhere and blindside you. In the middle of a schedule that works, in the middle of practicing rhythms and working on exciting side projects, in the middle of whatever you're doing, life happens.
My long-time friend and I have a phrase we use in tough situations, "this can only be good." Most of the time, my positivity doesn't look at all like a cheerleader, but like a cheeky comment about how everything works out while everything is definitely not working out. I'm the girl who gets in a car accident and then says, "but I met the nicest physical therapist!"
Even for an optimist, this month has been really hard. I had life-giving rhythms in place, practicing those things that give me energy and joy intentionally every week. In July, I haven't painted or created much. I haven't exercised, with the exception of a few walks with a friend and pool time with my niece and nephews the other day. I haven't been to my favorite coffee shops to read and process my thoughts. I've been a bit broken by sickness and crisis.
Bodies break down sometimes. My own body breaking down two years ago is what started me on this journey to find rhythms for a healthy and whole life. People break down. Stress is a reality in everyone's daily life - both good stresses and bad stresses. Families, cars, jobs and relationships all break down from time to time.
Rhythms break down. Life-giving rhythms are not a system or a prescription. They don't have a rulebook or explicit directions. We all have burnouts, big or small, and we can all recover and create new rhythms that work for a new season of life. When life happens and you or your rhythms break down, if you do nothing else, please be kind to yourself. Find joy in simple things, like a call from a friend or the taste of your favorite food. Give yourself grace, knowing that your rhythms serve you and not the other way around.
Do a little less to give yourself room to grieve. This may sound silly, but even small changes require a little grieving. It's okay to be sad or frustrated that you're losing your normal schedule, that you can't do as much while you're sick, that you have to give up some of your ideal expectations for what your life should look like to make room for a new story to unfold. It's okay to sit here for awhile and really feel whatever loss you're experiencing.
Be in the middle. Do what you have to do for a little while, then start to find what brings you to life again. Don't throw yourself back into extreme busyness as a distraction, but guard the white spaces on your calendar, knowing that you must save time for your non-negotiables. Start slowly. Start creating new rhythms, incorporating what you still need from the old and weaving the two together to make a beautiful new season of life.