The other half of this exploration is asking myself: how do I feel good about flying to Alaska for a week? (If you missed the first part of this question, you can still check it out.)
My inner voices say: "Didn't you just get back (a month ago) from a long weekend in Portland? When do you get any work done, woman!?"
In my defense, I broadly define "work." It's undeniable that I am working when I am seeing clients or doing research in the library. But let's look outside of those explicit ways of working.
Here is the value that I see in taking some "time off:"
I'm learning, first hand, what it's like to travel with food sensitivities.
I admit it— I'm spoiled. I live in Colorado and my friends have actually heard me say, "What's wrong with this place? They don't serve anything DF/GF!" Honestly, it's really that rare it that I go out to eat and can't find anything on the menu. This gives me an unrealistic confidence that the food options offered to me will always include something that make me feel good. Instead, I have to remind my aunt over and over again that if it came from a cow's udder, it will make me sick. Negotiating social situations with food intolerances can be frustrating and I am learning how to better coach my clients through these situations.
I’m spacing out on airplanes and buses.
You know how your best ideas come to you in the shower, or as you’re falling asleep at night? WYNC did this whole project on boredom and productivity, because we are always checking Instagram and playing games rather than daydreaming. With my phone in airplane mode (or dead because I left my charger in Colorado), I have more time alone in my head.
I’m spending time with people outside of my field.
Again, I live in a Colorado bubble. The amazing women I work with, my closest friends, my beloved clients—most of these folks speak my language. We can talk for hours about holding positive space, practicing self-compassion, and cultivating our intuition.
It’s really good for me to be around 9-year-old violinists, retired librarians and amateur ornithologists because they operate in a different world than I do. They notice different details, chew on different problems, and don’t necessarily understand what I mean when I say, “Move from a place of joy!” I’m both learning and teaching through this wonderful trade of experience and opinion.
I have access to new teachers and mentors.
In addition to the wily cousins, uncles and in-laws I get to spend time with, I’m also taking yoga classes with new teachers, meeting new naturopaths and herbalists, and listening to speakers I’ve never heard of.
These are the talented people are in my field who haven’t reached national superstar status, and without traveling I would never find them. I now have access to fresh ideas and practices.
Travel (for me) is self-care, and without self-care, there is no work.
All of the items listed above are ways in which I can still work while traveling. Yes, I’m learning and being inspired. I’m also waking up early to do yoga and take a dip in the hot tub. I’m going for long walks on rocky beaches and going to bed at 9 PM. I’m playing in my sketchbook and writing love letters.
All of this is vital; I have the opportunity to reconnect to my true desires and rekindle the fire that drives my life’s work. Without this time to realign my inner compass, the work that I do is unfocused and ineffective.
Do you give yourself a hard time for taking it easy? Have you been eyeing a weekend in the mountains, but struggling to justify the time away from everyday life? How can you expand your definition of “productivity” to include the pastimes that really feed you?
Let me know in the comments below.