We have permission to rest.

It was funny, really, being someone who writes about travel and the handiness of being in a line of work you can take anywhere. I arrived not quite two weeks ago in Florence, Italy to make my way for one of my favorite gatherings ever: the Tuscany Writers’ Retreat, hosted by my agent and friend Jenni.

I knew I was in desperate need of a break, but I didn’t really know how to take one properly. My work is our family’s primary source for bread on the table, and upcoming events on our calendar meant a pressing need to fit as much work into those calendar squares as possible. I’ve been working a ton.

And I’ve been tired for awhile, but I hadn’t find the wherewithal to give myself permission to rest.

There was a buzzing alarm in my brain, faint but there in the background, because I knew something was amiss if I felt too busy writing about a simpler way of life. That shouldn’t be, my brain said. But I felt like I couldn’t listen.

Tuscany 2016

Mark Buchanan says, “Busyness makes us stop caring about the things we care about.” He also says a good measure for whether we’re rested enough is to ask ourselves this: How much do I care about the things I care about?

I knew I was so close to the cliff of overwhelm that my care-level for the things that mattered most to me—my family, friends, God—was lower than it should be. Nonetheless, I kept working.

Until Tuscany.

Tuscany 2016

Normally, my internet works fine in this pocket of the world; it always has. But for whatever reason, and even though most everyone in my group’s internet was working well, mine was kaput. I could only get online in a tiny, five foot-square corner of an office in the giant house where we were staying, nowhere near convenient for me.

No data, no internet, nothing. From the places where we spent most of our time, I had no way to get online.

Isn’t that something.

Tuscany 2016
Photo by Emily

It was hard the first 48 hours. And then it was delicious.

It was as though God knew I needed a gentle, kind, forced reminder that the important things of life aren’t all dependent on me, and that taking a break isn’t only a lovely treat every now and then, it’s necessary for my wholeness.

The world won’t implode if I don’t get a contributor’s post up on social media, and my fellow humanity will be just fine waiting an extra week (or two) to get a reply from their email. Life goes on. And even better, it remains beautiful.

(In case you were wondering, my right-hand-gal/assistant, Caroline, was on the trip, too, so there was no one even manning the front here.)

Tuscany 2016

Now that I’m back and easing in to my work routine here, writing the above feels silly. Of course resting is necessary and beautiful. I know this! I tell this to other people all the time. But I suppose, like many people, the things I give other people permission to embrace are the things that are often hardest for me. And when I’m in the thick of it, it’s hard to see the truth.

Tuscany 2016
Photo by Myquillyn

Buchanan also says, about his friend’s request to go swimming during his writing a book on rest, “I almost allowed my obligation to write about rest steal my experience of it. I almost allowed my compulsion to merely talk about rest and play take from me these things themselves.”

I could have written those two sentences of his.

I was already planning on taking my annual summer break from my work, but I’ll be honest—in the past, it’s been a rather faux-break: I might not post new stuff here on AoS, but I’m busy behind the scenes, catching up on email or still scrolling through social media.

There’s nothing wrong with those things, and heck, I still love my work to the point that those obligations are often fun—but only when I’m doing it from a place of well-restedness.

I need to further the richness of rest I experienced in Tuscany, and so, this summer, I’m going to really rest. It’s necessary. From mid-July to mid-August, I’ll hardly be online. I’ve already got friends on the docket who’ll share some thoughts on this space, as usual, and I’ve already recorded most of the podcast episodes that’ll go out.

Tuscany 2016

But this time, I’m really going to rest and play. I’m going to be scarce on Facebook, slow to respond on email, and post on Instagram only when I feel like it. I’m going to road trip up to Oregon with my family, drink mojitos with friends, and read good books. I’m going to shrug my shoulders about keeping up with the online happenings. Because the things that matter are all around me, and I want to be well-rested enough to enjoy them.

Buchanan finally drops the mic with this:

“What’s missing [in our lives] is a theology of play. There are many things—eating ice cream, diving off cliffs, sleeping in Saturday mornings, learning birdcalls, watching movies—that can’t be shoehorned into a utilitarian scheme, try as you might. We do some things just for the simple sake of doing them. There’s no particular usefulness connected to them. They don’t need to be done: nobody insists, and the world’s left unchanged by our doing them or not. They enhance our intellect not one bit. …But they just might make us feel more alive, more ourselves, and that’s use enough.

Tuscany 2016

May we each embrace the permission we already have to play, and to play well—just for the sake of our alive-ness, and not for any usefulness. I know I need it. It’s a key ingredient to my rest right now.

Rest and play well, my friends.


Wisdom nuggets from Mark Buchanan in this much-needed, frequently dogeared book:

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Reading Time:

4 minutes

 

 

 

24 Comments

  1. Pamela

    I literally stopped reading in the middle of this to fill out a time-off request! I’ve been meaning to do that for months and this gave me the boost I needed. Thanks!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! Good for you, Pamela! I’m so glad to hear this.

  2. Brittnie

    Wow powerful stuff, Tsh! Taking all of this to heart today. Thank you for sharing.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re welcome, Brittnie! I can’t stop shaking this stuff, either….

  3. Christin

    This was so needed. My husband and I are slowly burning out on our quest for self-employment. The passion projects that we would love to turn into an income and freedom are becoming chores and sources of stress. Not to mention, increasing feelings of not being good enough because we can’t seem to fit it all in. I’ve known that a break was near – thank you for reminding me that we can take that break and re-charge!

    Enjoy your much needed rest!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I so hear you on all those things, Christin. Sometimes we just need a little nudge to do what we already know is healthy for us. I hope you get a break soon and very soon!

  4. Rachel

    The cottage we are going to for three weeks this Summer has no internet access – I can’t wait!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Perfect!

  5. Linda Sand

    On the seventh day God rested. Can we talk ourselves into taking one day a week to rest, relax, and play? Do we really think we are doing right by trying to outwork God? Go out in the meadow and watch the butterflies, people, it’s a great way to worship!

  6. Denise

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I had twins six months ago and I have to force myself to stop doing “stuff” and just be. Please take good care of yourself as it reminds your readers to do the same!

  7. Trish Finley

    This came to me at such a perfect time! Thank you.

  8. Devi

    I’m amazed at how the symptoms of hurry and fatigue impact me physically. Until I had kids, I could ignore it, but after kids my body just screams at me – nausea, aches and pains and just a heavy, awful feeling. It’s the physical symptoms now that hit me first before anything else, and the thing that helps me see I need to rest.

  9. Natalie

    Another one with here who is thankful for this post. Just this morning I woke up feeling that if I don’t get a vacation in before summer’s end, I’m going to collapse from fatigue. I read Mark’s book a few years ago, found it life changing and even taught a workshop using it as a major reference, but here I am in a desperate need of rest. Guess it’s time to re read the book and remind myself how important rest is! Blessing to you, Tsh.

  10. Maryalene

    Great post and great reminders for all of us who feel compelled to always be checking boxes and getting stuff done.

  11. Annette

    I want to recommend “Wonder” by RJ Palacio (sp?) for your Oregon road trip with the family. We listened to it on ours when the kids were 13, 11, and 9. It’s perfect!

  12. Lindsay S

    I read that book several years ago (after you had recommended it on here) and it changed me and made me passionate about rest and Sabbath. Thank you for the content you bring to point your readers towards simple and holistic living. All the best to you as you rest and enjoy your friends and family.

  13. Gina Comer

    If you all pass through Humboldt County in CA come reset at our house. We have beautiful walks through the redwoods that will restore your soil. Many blessings and I’ll be here in the fall to read your updates.

  14. Marla Taviano

    The Rest of God is one that made the cut to come to Cambodia with us. Haven’t read it since we moved there. Need to. Want to. Happy resting, friend!

  15. Lisa

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m working on a career change right now, a pretty drastic one, and a few weeks ago I realized I was getting burnt out and needed a break. It’s hard to let myself do it because I’m afraid of the opportunities I could miss and I feel like I’m shirking my responsibilities. The whole “if you don’t have a job, your job is finding one” thing. But deep down I know I need time to rest and recharge. That’s my plan for a July.

  16. Lora

    great thanks for sharing

  17. Regina

    Rest up and have fun! We will still be here when you return. : )

  18. Amanda

    Thank you for what you do and thank you for this post. I needed to “hear” this today.

  19. Barbara

    Ram Dass wrote a book on compassion a number of years ago and relates the (heartbreaking) story of a young man doing some gardening or handyman work for him who asked several times to speak with Ram Dass about some problems he was having. Ram kept putting him off because he was busy, busy, busy writing this book on compassion and had deadlines to meet, etc. Then one day the young man killed himself without ever getting to speak to Ram. Ram unflinchingly reflects that while he was WRITING about compassion, he failed to show it, to live it and a young man died, perhaps needlessly.

    It is easy to mistake the map for the journey. Enjoy your vacation and live simple.

  20. Anna

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures 🙂

    I can understand the difficulty of giving ourselves permission to rest. I spent so many years learning how to use my time well, schedule, and squeeze in every little thing that I could. Then I overdid it, and I had to unlearn a lot of that. But those habits are ingrained now. Recently, I have to remind myself of the importance of resting and taking breaks. I’m reviewing French and learning a new language, and it’s hard to not push myself. I think I need to read Buchanan’s book.

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