I broke my own cardinal rule recently. I didn’t even realize I was breaking it until I endured the aftermath. My rule is that the day after air travel, which I undergo three or more times a month, I do nothing. No clients, no writing, no cleaning, no shopping, no lunch dates – nothing. I stay home and do nothing but relax, preferably sans makeup, hair in a ponytail and wearing comfies.
I am a Jill of many trades. One of which is presenting corporate team building events with African drums. As an introverted, highly sensitive person that paradoxically loves to speak and present on stage in front of hundreds of people, I know myself well enough to understand that although I enjoy my work, I dislike the ups and downs of flying back and forth to my destinations. Airports, delays, long flights sitting way to close to strangers, lonely hotel rooms, crappy food, and often limited sleep wreaks havoc on my finely tuned nervous system. I am refueled with time alone, unlike an extrovert that refuels with time in community. So when I return home from travel, I know I need to refuel in order to be grounded, whole and productive in the days that follow.
I used to feel so weak and even guilty for needing my down time. Most of my friends and loved ones are not introverts or highly sensitive like me. I see them flourishing by constantly being surrounded by people. But when I finally realized there is nothing wrong with me, it is just the way my brain and body is wired, I felt a huge relief and vowed to protect that sensitivity and nurture myself with what is right for me, not them. It took me 40+ years to understand this, so keeping that vow takes diligence and commitment. And I broke that commitment.
Last week I spent five out of seven days traveling that included two trips; one from California to Phoenix and back and then California to Oklahoma and back. And for some strange reason the day after my return from Oklahoma I was out and about, spending time with my love. I suppose that’s not so strange being that we missed each other during my travel and had two days off together. And I reckon that is why I threw my cardinal rule right out the window. But it was bad reasoning. I was fine the first day. Then the second day I noticed I was feeling cranky for no apparent reason. By the third day, when I actually set out to ease back into my routine of work, home management, etc., I found myself to be a complete wreck. Thrown into the mix was the fact that my 12 year old Siberian Husky had apparently damaged some ligaments and is walking around on three legs which followed my 4 year old car needing a new alternator. Suffice it to say that I was acting and reacting in a way that pretty much made premenstrual syndrome look like a day at Disneyland.
Then it hit me, and I thought to myself “Oooohhhhh yeaaahhhhh, I didn’t stay home and lay low the day after travel.” The truth is, if I just would have honored my cardinal rule and taken just that one day to myself when I returned home from Oklahoma, I would have handled the stress of my dog totally differently. I could have seen my options clearly, but instead I cried bawled for two days worrying about it all. My love would have been so very happy to give me space and spend the day out playing poker, which is how he refuels. We still would have had his second day off together, and with both of us refueled, it could have been glorious rather than both of us dealing with my crabby ass.
For introverts, extroverts, sensitives and non-sensitives, it is so vitally important that we set boundaries for ourselves and know how to flow with our rhythm and the changing rhythms around us. Oh the irony – I preach this in every gig I present! Every aspect of our life revolves around rhythm. We eat, we sleep, we work, we play – all to a rhythm. There is a rhythm to our day, to our work…and when we are aligned with that rhythm, we feel awesome. Yet, it is human nature to fall out of that rhythm from time to time, just like I did. If we are not conscious in our life and not in-tune with our rhythm and the rhythms around us, what we typically do when we loose the pulse is run around like chickens with their head cut off (like I did) and create chaos. The key to avoiding that chaos, or at least leaving it behind and easing back into a rhythm is to just stop everything. Stop doing, and just sit and be for a time; maybe a few minutes, maybe a few hours, maybe a few days. Whatever it takes to connect without ourselves and then the world around us; feel the rhythm and find our groove – which I eventually did.
It is important to remember also that the rhythm is always changing. This is why conscious awareness is so important to our peace and happiness. When we are awake, aware and tuned-in, we feel the rhythm and synchronize. Each of us has our own way of tuning in. Knowing ourselves and honoring who we are is imperative – not who we think we should be, not who someone else wants us to be, and not who culture or society dictates. Rhythm gets all screwed up when we try to be someone we are not.
And for the record, strength is overrated. It is ok to have moments of weakness, and to surrender to it. There is a time and a place for strength, but the same goes for weakness. Actually, one cannot truly exist without the other. And damn it, what we resist persists. If I would have honored myself and settled into weakness for just one day after travel, I would have had the strength to endure. Instead, weakness and I have been hanging out for almost a week now and I’m kind of done with it.
It was an honest mistake. It was made out of love and wanting to spend time with my man. I won’t beat myself up over it (anymore). Lesson learned! You all know what I’ll be doing the day after my next stint of travel…not a damn thing!
How do you set boundaries for yourself? Have you had to learn the hard way how important boundaries are? Leave a comment and let’s learn from each other.
In Rhythm & Harmony,