For the first time in my adult life, I opted out of dance this past week. I did not go to ballet on Monday, 305 Fitness on Wednesday (or as I like to call it, Zumba turned up to an 11), or Zumba today. I did not have a ballroom lesson. And I feel better for it.
After working the previous two weekends, I started Monday already tired and feeling the symptoms of burnout. The old me would have pushed through, telling myself I just had to suck it up while things were crazy. The new me knows better than to believe such nonsense. I told my manager I was going to take Friday off, and I texted my ballet teacher I wasn’t going to be in class that night.
There’s a concept called “active rest” that’s popular in the fitness world, designated for days when you’re not working out at your normal intensity but still would benefit from some movement. I could tell that my brain and body needed rest rest this week, even from dance, which normally provides a break from my daily grind. I needed to not be obligated or committed to anything once I finished the work day. I needed quiet time outside, where the trees didn’t expect anything from me and my brain didn’t need to be “on.” I even needed to not have to remember to engage my core or point my toes.
The old me would have felt major guilt over wanting to not do anything and just be. Hustle culture is a hard habit to break. As the week progressed, I would keep having thoughts about what I was going to do with my extra day off. Maybe I could write a couple articles. Maybe I could work on my next book. Maybe I could go through some of the boxes still packed in my office. But the whole point was I needed rest, not time to do a different kind of work.
A major part of rest/recovery time for me is having nothing scheduled. So I am free to decide what I want to do as the day progresses. I am not restricted by plans and can instead listen to what my body needs and what my soul craves in the moment. For example, after eating breakfast on Friday, I saw that the morning was beautiful and the weather wasn’t too hot yet, so I made myself another cup of tea and sat out on the deck with my dogs and a journal for a couple hours. When I felt like going inside to watch some Netflix, I went inside. Later in the afternoon, after some more writing for myself, I felt like going for a drive. So I did.
Today was slightly more planned. The trash and recycling had to be taken to the local dump and clothes needed to be washed. I wanted to go for a walk outside, so after the dump, I explored a nearby state park, complete with a lighthouse. I knew I was feeling better because I was inspired to collect some photos and video to share online. After coming home, there was more writing and show-watching. I drafted an entire article intended for Medium, and when I reached the end, I decided it was just for me.
Tonight, I watched a new documentary on Netflix about Shania Twain. Her success as a music artist is tremendous! I can’t not start dancing and singing along when I hear those first few notes to Man! I Feel Like a Woman.
I was struck by the fact that her albums, a.k.a. her content, were released years apart. It was normal for an artist to take months to years to come out with something new for their audience! And their audience waited for them! With online algorithms being what they are today, artists of all kinds are burning out over trying to not just create, but publish new content every day! The web demands fresh content or you will disappear into the Memory Dump of the internet. My growth as an online blogger has always moved at a snail’s pace, partly because I don’t publish often enough. I used to publish at least once a week on the blog and every single day on Instagram and Facebook. My views have remained pretty similar year after year. I certainly am no richer for all of my efforts, poorer in fact. Now, I’m finding I care much more about my own health and wellbeing than online traffic statistics.
I still hope to find that sweet spot between taking care of myself and putting my thoughts out into the world so that I always feel inspired to create, not forced to produce for the sake of algorithms, and the world in turn feels inspired to pay me for my creation. The Girl with the Tree Tattoo has always been about putting herself out there for the sake of others. To inspire and encourage. To enable her fellow dancers to find the confidence and strength to show up as themselves. Something that came up during my journaling this weekend is maybe this call to Maine wasn’t for some greater purpose to serve others in a more impactful way. Maybe Maine was calling me here for my own sake. Maybe here is where I’m meant to be because here is where I feel happy and at peace. And that’s it. Maybe it doesn’t have to be about what I can do for others. Maybe it’s just about what’s best for me.
It feels strange to think that way, but if a purpose starts to become more of a burden, maybe it’s time to think differently. The funny thing is the core purpose of The Girl with the Tree Tattoo – sharing the dance journey – has never felt like a burden. It’s everything that’s built up around it that weighs heavy on my shoulders: the “shoulds”, the “supposed tos” and the “this is how things are done” assertions.
So you may hear less from me as I focus more on what I want and am inspired to do, and less on what the algorithms want. I think this season of creation is going to see a lot more writing but less frequent publishing. My hope is you’ll find even more value in what I do share because it will come from an inspired heart and not a burned out mind. I’m sure they won’t all be hits like Shania’s creations, but hopefully, there will still be a couple gems.
This just popped into my head as I’m typing – maybe I’ll put together a greatest hits list of my most popular blog articles, ha! After all, I have over 500 articles published on this blog alone. I’m sure there’s one or two that you missed.
I want to say thank you again to my loyal followers and fans. Every time I think this is getting too hard and wonder if it’s worth it when I look at my mediocre statistics, I think of you and remember the notes you’ve sent me about how one article or another was published at just the right time in your dance journey and it made a difference. I treasure those notes because even if I’ve failed in the traditional measures of online success, I know I’ve made a positive difference in your life.
As always, happy dancing.
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