My month off ends tomorrow. I have to admit, it was…not what I thought. It does not necessarily follow that it must be unpleasant (to borrow a phrase from Jane Austen). I kind of envisioned, as a typical enneagram One/Type A, that I would hit my month off/month of writing and immediately go into full writer mode. In other words, I would get up in the mornings with my husband, make breakfast, clean up the house, go to my writing, and have very productive, full days of writing, reading writing books, working on my website, and submitting things for publication with a break for lunch and possibly a couple breaks to step outside and refresh myself. Then I would stop around 3:00, in time to work out, and prepare dinner, and have a pleasant evening with my husband, knowing I’d had a productive day.
If all of you are laughing right now, you would be right to do so. That isn’t even remotely what happened. For one thing, it rained most of the month, so mooning around outside didn’t really happen at all.
Week One (April 6 – 10 [no, I am not counting weekends]): My husband also had the week off and we essentially spent the week playing board games, phone games, watching movies, and making food as easy as possible, and, yes, staying up until anywhere from 1:00 AM – 4:00 AM and sleeping in until noon or so. I got minimal writing or writing related items completed.
Week Two (April 13 – 17): I went into full-bore writing mode and was in my room editing my book or working on my website from anywhere between 8:00 and 9:00 AM through 4:00 or 5:00 PM, sometimes later, barely took a break for lunch, let alone getting meals prepared for my husband in a timely matter, AND worked out an hour every day, only quitting at night when I was legit mentally exhausted.
Week Three (April 20 – 24): I basically mentally collapsed after that week of nonstop editing/writing/working on writing stuff, and began to learn what it meant to ACTUALLY rest. In general I stayed up until midnight and woke around 8:30 or 9:00, the first couple days I spent an hour doing devotions, and the rest of the time cleaning up the house and rediscovering my love of baking and cooking. The next couple days I finished editing my book interspersed with dreamily looking out the window, cleaning up the house, and cooking or baking or reading. The couple days after that I spent basically reading. If I recall correctly. It went somewhere in that order. I know that there was a lot of baking, cooking, reading, and NO writing beyond finishing editing my book. I took up piano and French again, and even painted a little.
Week Four (April 27 – now): This week. . . I am lost. I am struggling. I am fearful. Thus far I have spent a majority of my days sitting around feeling guilty for not doing more, not only this week but during the entire month but simultaneously feeling more rested and peaceful than I have in ages. I know that tomorrow I need to start looking at job possibilities and I simultaneously want to and don’t want to. I’m ready to be making money again, but not sure I’m ready to give up my idyllic existence of the last month. I want to work out but don’t want to go through the work of working out. I want to cook but don’t want to do the dishes. I want to read, but have completed five books in the last week so feel I should do something more useful with my time. I want a clean house but don’t want to clean it. I want to spend time with God . . . but am scared of what He might tell me. Which makes NO sense, since, why would I want anything other than what He wants anyway? The Bible clearly states He wants the best for me. That He has plans for me…but what if I misunderstand? What if I do the wrong thing? What if . . .I don’t even know the next what if. All I know is that so far this week, I have inner peace and rest but at the same time feel fearful and restless. A dichotomous relationship, and yet it is there.
So, here’s my results. Here is what I think my month off has taught me:
- That I was far more burned out than I realized.
- That I legitimately love writing, and all writing-related things and were I to move into writing full-time, I would need to be careful to balance my life with it or I could turn into a “workaholic” via writing.
- That rest is not bad. That it is okay to take some days slow. To play the piano, read, and stare out the window. That the more time I spend in God’s word, the more rested I feel.
- That there may be more for me in the world than pursuing the one career dream I’ve had since college – which is to be an intel analyst, contracting for the government. That…it is possible God has another plan for me and I should be open to that.
- And, probably the biggest personal one for me, that, even with all the time in the world, I struggle to figure out the right balance. Ideal conditions do not make me into my ideal person. Yes, I really thought it would.
Pray for me, my readers. As I figure out next steps. As I figure out the balance between career, money, writing, life, and deal with my fear of the unknown future. My month off has been far more revealing about ME than I would have guessed, but I still don’t have a clear direction of what to do next. Funny isn’t it, how you think things like that will magically happen?
And, ironically, Hannah Brencher’s Monday newsletter, which I literally just read, addresses a lot of what I’ve been saying. Here’s an excerpt:
“Oh… Yikes… so… you like want me to do something? I thought God could just go ahead of me and work it all out. That would be super sweet. I’d feel reallllly confident with that way of doing things. But that’s not what is happening here. We have to get moving, people. If there is something you want, something you are dreaming about, something you believe God has for you, then it still requires action. It still requires the moving of feet. The momentum. The hard work. The showing-up-even-when-it’s-hard.”