Taking time off as a radical act

In the early days of social media –when I was still on Facebook– I used to have the ‘December Turnaround’. I’d post a temporary profile picture of myself facing away from the camera and get off social media completely. It was a good and healthy practice and it made sense to do this in the festive month when our thoughts can be focused on family and/ or spirituality. 

Don’t worry I’m not going off on a social media tirade again, I’m just using it as an example of a bigger issue. 

I’ve seen about four businesses mention their summer break in their newsletters over the last few weeks. They step away from work over the summer break, fully. This seems quite radical but is it? I have been planning to do the same thing. Yes. Planning, a verb. To take a break, not a verb. And I’ll tell you why and how in this heap of letters. 

I am an early adopter that gets love/hate relationships with the (digital) tools that I use. Always have been, ever since ‘My Space’ (yes, that's how old I am) . And as the cycles in my life stack up, things are getting more clear. Repetition is a great way to learn you know. Taking time to be mindful about the returning issues and reacting to them with compassion and forward energy has been a great way to grow for me.  

I have learned quite a bit about myself the last couple of years.

  • I always thought I was an extravert. I’m the joker at a party and I wear loud outfits. Turns out I am not at all. I am still exhausted from all the extraverting I did in the shop I closed MONTHS ago. I need to charge my battery after almost any social interaction. I can get really hyper sensitive and even angry if I’ve had too much social interaction.
  • I thought I was overly sensitive and emotional and these were annoying features to me and the people around me. But I have embraced them as my superpowers now, I just need to learn to use them instead of hiding them. Also quite exhausting.
  • I love living slow and intentionally but my life has been crazy over the last years (I've had heart surgery, working more than full time to keep a business going, closing my shop, covid, moving house, caring for my family (teens!)). Kind off exhausting too.
  • My body has been communicating with me and I wasn’t listening. Congenital heart issues that come up at 45, exhaustion, muscle injuries that won’t heal, lost words and memory, repetitive stress syndrome, trouble sleeping….

It-is-all-so-exhausting.

Over the span of a few years I have seen a few doctor’s offices and ‘STRESS’ was always a word that came up. Always. Later, the words over-strung, over-stimulated and anxiousness entered the conversation. But I always answered with a drive, a vision, an energy to move forward. Then when I started to have memory issues and trouble finding words, I had my blood checked, it was fine. And the doctor mentioned …

BURN-OUT.

Well, that was a hard pill to swallow.

But the organizing part of my –superpower neuro diverse– brain quickly made a sketch-of-a-blueprint-of-a-plan. And I let myself work out a way to get better and at the same time offer help to others. I did this while I moved house and closed my shop. I know, it sounds like I should have just quit everything I was doing and go lie face-down on the floor. But shutting it all down just adds to my stress, I’m sure you can empathize. How would I ever recover from recovering….?

I was motivated and focused to do this thing right and the plan that evolved from this has proven to be very effective in my personal and professional life. I’m still tweaking and getting better (at it) every day. Always open to learning more. And some days I really suck at it!! I have to embrace that it takes a lot of time to make real changes. To adopt new routines, habits or rituals as I would rather call them.

But I’m positive that the changes I made in my life can help you too. Whether you are experiencing burn out or if you are just a busy parent or crazy times at work prevent you from taking care of yourself and get your craft going. I can help!

I was shy to talk about this for so long. This is actually the first time I’m even mentioning burn out. I had to get over the feeling of failure. But then I thought…  I never think of myself as a failure, NEVER! EVER! I’m not failing, I’m learning, I’m discovering, I’m on a journey. I actually really believe in myself 99% of the time. I just kinda hit the edge of a boundary of a... you know? 

I realized that I’ve just been scared OTHERS might think that I’m failing. And while I was learning about myself, this just didn’t make sense anymore. If this is the truth then I must share it, then I can show people how to take care of themselves and their businesses and your loved ones without getting overwhelmed and over strained and exhausted. I am not on top of the mountain calling out to you; "Come up, come up!" I am climbing it with you, holding the torch. And I hope I can shine some light and warmth where you need it. 

Most things I’ve learned in the last years I’ve learned from people who lived through their difficulties and came out stronger or healthier or just better. I never once thought of them as weak or incompetent. Au contraire! So I’m showing more of the WHY behind WHAT I do.

This is also why the programs that I’m offering will never be overwhelming and always be do-able. Because I know how it feels to have too much going on. I know how it feels not to have the energy to show up on social media for example. 

TIP While all the experts keep saying you should, daily preferably… show up on social media. I say: Do it when you can. And take advantage of the more energetic days to tape and photograph a whole bunch of things to spread and plan over time. No need to go live all the time. There are ways to keep going and at the same time keeping your balance and focus front and center.  

 

BREAKY BREAKY 

I am taking a summer break

  • I am stepping away from social media in August. After reading ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport I decided that summer is a great time to step away from social media and overly using digital tools. With the goal to figure out what digital tools I really need and on what device. Read the book! It’s totally eye opening!
  • I am closing the web shop for a month, I will take orders but they will be shipped in September. There is a pop up and a yellow sign on the website clearly communicating this.
  • I will do minimal office work. I might check my mail regularly, because an empty mailbox is part of my routine now, and I will stay in touch with the members of my online community, that’s it.

 

This is why I do it

  • I need longer breaks to really rest and reset my mind.
  • I need to be away from work to get new and better ideas.
  • My family is so much happier when I am not behind my desk for hours during the summer.
  • I don’t have a full team to spread the work, I do almost everything myself.
  • I want to show other humans, business owners, parents, that we have a choice to do things our way, it’s important to bend the rules or break them when it comes to our health.

 

And this is how I do it

  • I let people know in advance that this is happening, in newsletters, social media posts and with a pop-up on my website, this also helps with the sneaky bastard called guilt. Now I don’t feel guilty because I’ve let people know and leave room to communicate about it before I’m actually away.
  • I plan social media posts and newsletters in advance and use digital tools to drop them automatically. It will seem like I’m still active while I am actually reading a book or baking a cake. Not posting is absolutely an option if you don’t feel like it! 
  • When I don’t get things done in time, I try (still need help there) to let it be and trust that I have put enough out in the world to last people for a month. And then I realize how stupid that sounds and I can really let go.
  • My magic word is ‘CHOOSE!’, I choose what to do and what not to do using the bullet journal method (the minimalist type, not the anxiety enhancing pretty arty type)
  • I focus time on my actual knitting and craft practice so I get all the benefits from working with my hands and while I do this, my mind works, my ideas flow and I feel my best self.
  • This all helps me to have a more sustainable business and offer you better products and services overall.

 

HAPPY SUMMER!!
Take care of yourself!

 

ps You can join our online community for a new price from €8,50 a month you are part of a group of people that support a movement that is about care, self care, care for others, care for animals and the environment. So that we can enjoy our craft to its full potential in bringing us balance and focus, living an intentional life. 

 

the Bullet Journal Method

Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism