Confessions of A Burned Out, Sick and Tired Workaholic – A Year Long Experiment in Slowing The F*ck Down
I looked down at my ankle – once again swollen to more than twice it’s size – and then back to the doctor in the Emergency Department.
“We’re not sure what the problem is, but you haven’t broken it. It’s probably just soft tissue damage. Go home and take some Nurofen or Panadol and rest it.”
It took all of my resolve to not leap out of my chair and tackle her to the floor. Even with only one working leg, I was pretty sure I could take her.
“SOFT TISSUE DAMAGE? You can’t tell me that and send me home. I’ve been awake since 2am in excruciating pain because my stupid freaking ankle has doubled in size YET AGAIN, I’ve had a billion pain killers and nothing will make the pain go away! They told me it was soft tissue damage 16 MONTHS AGO. It’s still not better!”
She looked at me with a sympathetic smile, “It’s okay. I’ll write a letter to your doctor and you can get some more tests done. We just can’t help you here.”
My heart sank. I choked out an “okay thanks” and hobbled out of the hospital.
It was official. The time had come.
It was something I’d been resisting for a long time, but I couldn’t anymore.
I was ready.
It was time for me to saw off my foot.
Okay, not really - but in all seriousness, it WAS time to find a solution. Everything I’d tried up until now hadn’t worked – and something needed to change.
But you know how our best ideas often come to us when we’re not looking for them?Well, that’s exactly what happened here.
You see, my ongoing issues with my ankle were really the symptom of a MUCH bigger problem.
A problem that is almost synonymous with modern day life. A problem that YOU (and a lot of people you know) experience on a daily basis.
No matter what was going on in my life, with my body, my mind, my health, whatever -
I WOULD NOT STOP. I would not slow down. I would keep pushing through.
I WOULD ACHIEVE. I WOULD GET SHIT DONE.
Producing results was the name of the game - everything else would take a back seat - no matter what the cost. My life had become a giant to-do list.
For the last 10 years of so, I’ve been starting and running businesses. First it was a little web design company, then a non-profit, and just recently I launched my new business, Be.
I have been OBSESSED with achievement and ‘getting shit done’.
If you wanted to make something happen, I was your girl.
My schedule was jammed packed from morning until evening, 5 – 6 days a week. I’d fly from one meeting to the next, one crisis to the next, always looking for a quick fix that could get me a result in the shortest amount of time.
I'd move from one task to another, multi-tasking, switching focus, and then feeling like I never really accomplished anything no matter how much I got done.
It was NEVER enough.
If I had a day where I didn’t produce some kind of result, I was a failure.
Stress and anxiety were my constant companions.
Even outside of work, I couldn’t switch off. I was on. All of the time.
My phone was ON. My facebook was ON. My email was ON. I checked it at all hours of the day. It was the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing I’d look at before I went to sleep.
I started taking anti-anxiety meds to deal with the crushing weight of the pressure I was putting on myself and on my body.
And this constant speed and rush started to make me sick. I’d be struck down with flus that would leave me bedridden for weeks at a time. In the last year or so, I’ve felt like I was sick more often than I was well.
And yet, I still Didn’t. Fucking. Stop.
And so you can imagine what a girl like that does with a busted ankle?
I ignored it.
My ankle was an obstacle to be overcome. It was getting in my way. So when a physio couldn’t fix it after a couple of visits, I’d go and try an acupuncturist, or masseuse, or someone else.
None of my quick fixes worked, so I gave up. I went back to yoga, and then decided to take up hiking. GREAT IDEA HUH!? (*face palm*).
A few hikes later, I end up in the ER because it felt like the arch of my foot was collapsing.
Ugh, it’s kind of embarrassing writing it all down.
But I’m sharing it with you, because I know I’m not the only one.
These days our world is defined by it’s speed and instant gratification. We’re obsessed with new technologies that make us more productive and give us more time, and instead we’re busier than ever.Stress and anxiety related disorders are on the rise. So is the use of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. We’re seeing children barely out of kindergarten with schedules that would rival their parents.
I watch the people around me rush from one task to the next. One project to the next. One meeting to the next. Life has become a never ending to do list – scheduled, rigid and jam packed.
Where is the space to just sit and be? When do we stop, pause and actually take a second to be present in our lives rather than focusing on what’s next? What would our lives look like if we moved more slowly? If we weren’t in such a hurry or so focused on the next goal to be achieved?
Well, I’m going to find out.
And that fucking terrifies me.
Because I have no idea what it takes to move slowly.
To be present.
To sit with myself instead of constantly being distracted by the next item on my to-do list.
I know how to move quickly. I know I can set big goals and work my ass off to achieve them. I can GET SHIT DONE. I can travel the world multiple times a year. I can always be on the move. I can fill my schedule up with my business, my family, my friends, exercise, volunteering – you name it.
What I haven’t been able to do is stop and slow down.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an epiphany.
As I walked up a flight of stairs, one foot after another, followed by the DONK of my Moon Boot, I realised my ankle was the lesson I’d been waiting for.
It was giving me permission to do something I’d been so afraid of doing.
It was time for me to slow down. For real.
To walk more slowly, eat more slowly, move more slowly, work more slowly, and to start to find pleasures in the little things.
But for someone like me, that’s far from easy.
I’m a Type-A personality. You know, the impatient, competitive, outgoing and ambitious kind?
I can’t just promise myself that I’ll “Move Slowly” and stick to it. I need a challenge. Some kind of extreme goal that I can commit too and work to achieve.
If I’m going to go Slow, I need it to challenge me.
And so, the Year of Slow was born.
I’m committing to 12 months of Slowness.
Twelve months of opting out of the bigger, faster, better, stronger, rat race – and doing something that’s completely counter intuitive to how so many of us live.
I’M SLOWING THE FUCK DOWN.
AND I’m going to document the process and share it with you. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
What’s it going to take to live slowly? To heal slowly? To build a business slowly? To not be rushing from one thing to the next?
We’ll we’re going to find out together.
I'm in the midst of still nutting out the details - but so far here are the 10 Commands of The Year Of Slow.
If you want to stay up to date with the journey, just scroll down and fill out your details in the "Like What You See" section. Oh, and you can get 10% off your first bangle order too. :)
I'll be posting about the Year of Slow Monthly themes next week. So stay tuned!
Lots of Love,