Shortly before life came to an abrupt halt in mid-March, I found myself physically and emotionally exhausted. On a rare afternoon without my kids, I sat quietly on the beach and longed for breathing room and the space to slow down. Days later, schools were canceled and life narrowed down.
My wish had been granted.
In typical ‘me’ fashion though, I then used this time not to slow down, but to ramp up, shifting my business entirely online, undertaking home improvement projects, and throwing myself headlong into a never-ending parade of homeschooling and STEM activities. I had been given the chance to slow down, but I didn’t know how. The very fabric upon which I have historically defined my worth was predicated upon an almost zealous need to remain in motion.
At this same time, I found myself at a crossroads in life, and as the reality of what a post-COVID-19 world might look like sunk in, I found myself abandoning plans that I had been so sure of just two months prior. I needed to clear my head.
So…I retreated. I am of the generation of women that had the mantra ‘lead in’ imprinted on our brains and metaphorically emblazoned across our pretty little diplomas. Lean in, push forward, earn the money and the accolades, and do it all with gusto and grace.
But I was tired, so very tired, of leaning in.
I didn’t want to volunteer to take on anything more. I wanted my plate to be minimalist, I wanted quiet and calmness. I wanted to learn how to sleep again. I was ready to lean out and instead of silencing that inner voice with even more noise like I had always done, I decided to honor that which my heart and body needed.
I found myself saying no for the first time ever.
No, I didn’t want to take part in that activity. No, I didn’t want to do things that didn’t bring me joy because I was ‘supposed’ to do it. I canceled memberships and ghosted people. I stopped buying much of anything except food. I ignored the news and pulled my inner circle that much closer. I wanted time and space with my babies and my dogs.
I wanted to eat healthy and to exercise. I was ‘leaning out’ and it was healing me. I started sleeping more, reading more, taking more quiet time with my kids in the afternoon away from my electronics. I smiled more and I dusted off my meditation practice. I worked out virtually with my mom tribe in a way that was kind, rather than punishing to my body. I did lots of yoga and without trying, I lost ten pounds.
On paper, I was far from successful during this time period, but my healed soul completely disagrees. I don’t know how history will remember this period of time when the world closed, but for me, I know that the person emerging out of this period won’t be the same one that went in.
Leaning out and slowing down will form the basis of my personal memories of this time that has been centered on finding peace and being kind to myself.