I unplugged on Saturday. Then my husband drove me into the mountains without a phone, without a computer, without any of my usual tethers.
I had my notebooks, my paperback, my kids and my true love.
While we did stay at a hotel with a tv and while my kids did watch until their eyes bugged out of their head and they started spewing catty Disneyisms at us – for me, it was an unplugged weekend.
There was no email to check. No social media to update. No text messages to respond to or phone calls to answer.
I was unfettered and free.
I had planned on writing up a storm. After all, I only have a month and a half to finish a complete, ground up, re-write of my YA novel. I thought with three days ahead of me I’d make pages and pages of progress.
But then I got there and I realized that the reason I’d left all my strings behind was because I needed an actual vacation. I needed relief from the pressures of being a writer, editor, publicist, and word slut.
I wanted to curl up with my fantasy novel, listen to my kids laughing, go swimming/soaking in the hot springs, talk with my husband and just breathe. That simple thing that I so often forget to add to my daily “to-do” list.
In fact, I realized as I took this wonderful weekend gift, of all of my annual goals, that is the one I have repeatedly, soundly failed on.
I set myself the goal of taking an hour of a day to relax, exercise, breathe, be – and I have skipped it 49 days out of the last 52! There’s always some excuse. There’s always something else that needs to be done, that’s more important than the simple act of breathing. I mean, I’m breathing right now, aren’t I?
At least I’m keeping my goal of writing, I tell myself. Every day. Sure it helps that I have a class that makes me deliver ten pages every week and that keeps me on track, but even without that, I’m doing pretty damn well. I’m moving forward on three books all at once and that’s darn impressive even for a multi-project girl like me.
But that breathing thing – it turns out it’s more important that we realize. Because it’s not just the unconscious act of drawing in and releasing air that our bodies and brains need. No, there’s really something more to it.
Our bodies and minds need us to take a few moments every day to CONSCIOUSLY nourish them. Whether it’s with a fabulous, lovingly prepared meal, a few moments of concentrated breathing, a solo walk through the hills or around the neighborhood, a slow sipped Chai in a busy coffee-house – whatever it is, we need it. And if we can remember to give ourselves a small dose of that singular love and attention every day, our bodies and minds will reward us with renewed energy and creativity.
I was feeling guilty about my unplugged weekend. Sure, it was a holiday weekend, and I’d told all my clients that I’d be gone and unavailable, but I should have at least written, right? Then this morning I woke up at 5am and cranked out seven pages in an hour. Yeah. They’re probably not the very best seven pages I’ve ever written in my life, but that’s okay. They flowed. They came, and I know where I’m going next. I am renewed. I’m no longer fighting to tear each word of this re-write from the ether. They are simply streaming down to me, like rain on the desert.
So – I am reminding myself, and all of you, that the goal to give ourselves an hour a day is the most important one to keep. It will pay dividends in all the other areas of our lives.
Today I will do better. Today I will breathe. Today I will sit in the sunlight at the breakfast bar that my wonderful husband built for me and I will sip an entire cup of tea while it’s still hot. I will not waste that time on facebook, or twitter. I will not spin out plotting the next chapter of my re-write. I will not worry about my clients, about the books I need to review, or about making dinner or my kids homework, or about anything but that cup of tea, warm in my hands, and the sun streaming in through the windows.
I will unplug, unwind, and just be.