Have you ever found yourself thinking that thought? That just for a day, or an hour, or 15 minutes you’d like to stop the meetings, appointments, deadlines, community activities, family activities, trips to the gym, running to the grocery store, taking care of children, parents, spouses, pets, the business, employees…and just be?
My life is full, and I am on the go. Yet I know that constant activity—with my business, colleagues, family, friends and the Chamber—keeps my mind churning. I’m constantly thinking about what’s happening now, what needs to happen next, who I’m seeing tomorrow, what I have to finish, how I can explain a new idea, and, oh, I just got a text, and… Sometimes it feels like there’s a hamster running on a wheel inside my head!
We all do it—night and day we keep that little hamster in our heads running on its wheel. Some of us plan and organize, some analyze and scrutinize, some worry and fret. No matter what form it takes, we keep on going, because that’s what we do… because we have clients and customers waiting for us, because our colleagues and friends and families are depending on us. And sometimes the hamster is still running when our heads hit the pillow at night. OH, the burden of the hamster wheel!!
But when does the hamster wheel STOP? At what point do we need to stop the turning and churning in our minds? Can we stop it?
It is possible and it’s important that we get away from the pressure of the hamster wheel. How? We can consciously make our own declaration of independence from that which depletes our energy and keeps the wheel spinning!
This is the time of year when I purposefully turn off my hamster wheel. For the 13th consecutive year, my declaration of independence is taking the whole month of July off for what I call my extravaganza. My mantra has been and remains: Stop thinking so you can start thinking!! It’s purposeful. It’s mindful. It’s MY TIME to go inward, to realign and renew my energy. My July extravaganza rejuvenates my Force of Nature!!
One of the plusses of taking time off is the benefit to our health. Taking a vacation is not a luxury—it’s a necessity! If we don’t have the opportunity to relax and reflect we get stressed, and chronic stress is the driver of most diseases—heart disease, obesity, insomnia.
But taking time off isn’t just good for our health. It’s good for our work, too. Vacations boost energy reserves so that we need less effort to get work done when we return. Most of us are working in the knowledge economy; in that economy, the source of true productivity is a refreshed and energized mind. But here’s the catch: it takes a minimum of two weeks away from the job for that process to occur. We can’t get those recuperative benefits from a long weekend. We must nurture our nature!
The hamster wheel keeps us in constant motion…especially at times most critical for focus. It’s crucial to our success to have downtime—to shut down, turn off, re-boot—to have time when we’re untethered and independent from technology. We must make the time to take the time to remove ourselves from the things that deplete our energy. We have to redirect and rest our minds to replenish ourselves. Set ourselves free. . . . Be independent.
For me, that means an extravaganza—getting away from everyone and everything I know. I may be headed to a particular place with a scheduled arrival date. Most often, however, I’m pointing my truck in a direction I haven’t explored for awhile (if ever) and it’s ME time. I have my bike, kayak, camping equipment and miracle mutt, Sampson, packed. We set off, following brown signs—the brown signs of state parks, historical places, waterfalls, rivers, mountains, hiking trails, wineries, beaches and scenic overlooks. We’re ready for whatever comes our way! Nurturing my nature with every mile and every step of the journey.
While I realize that many of you prefer “camping” at the closest Sheraton, I have found, and continue finding, peace and solace among the wonders of our glorious Mother Earth. I declare my independence from my mind’s rattling hamster wheel by finding sanctuary outdoors, immersing all my senses in nature, enjoying each moment, being in each moment, as it comes.
My most sincere hope for everyone is that you make the time to take the time to determine what you need to rejuvenate your own force of nature, quieting your hamster wheel and discovering your own declaration of independence extravaganza!
“To take time to think is to gain time to live.” Nancy Kline