Lessons learned on taking breaks and listening deeply.

These words are cringe worthy for most entrepreneurs. It’s mostly an act that is put upon a leader, not one of choice and one that we try to avoid. Here’s a story of one such moment in my life when I got my spiritual ass handed to me.

2021 was a grueling year to say the least (I know I’m not alone in that sentiment). We were in the throes of concluding a 10-year mark of our intentional community to begin an outcropping in the Pacific North West. And though the return to Southern Oregon satisfied my wild heart, it was simultaneously breaking to leave the beloveds I had cultivated chosen family with for over a decade. Unwinding these threads and all that went with it- the full spectrum of mega-grief, anger and celebration was upon us. In the midst of navigating these tender waters, my father-in-law’s health took a turn for the worse after receiving a second COVID shot and my husband needed to rush home to New York to be by his side.

For a month, I cried, packed, worked, mom’d and held a container for my husband’s deep and profound journey to support his father to cross the death gate. Upon his return, he was between worlds in the opaque liminal spaces where lines are blurred and many aspects of daily life and living feel dull and pale. *In hindsight, this would have been the moment to insert our own Full Stop, but the moving train momentum was in full speed and briskly speeding down the tracks. Instead, we kept packing and wrapping up our lives in a community that held us through so many births- and just like a birth, it was all the things. We said our watery goodbyes, gave deep embraces and with bittersweet hearts and we made our way north.

With dogs, cats, kids and two moving trucks in tow we landed safely across state lines. We hurriedly emptied the u-hauls (lest we get charged an extra fee- again another opportunity to slow down) to stare down mountains of boxes in a new home. Five days later, my hubs needed to depart again to wrap up family affairs back East and endeavored into the cross-country journey to salvage some of his father’s moto relics and tried-and-true tools.

For a month, I cried, unpacked, worked, mom’d and did my best to harmonize into a new home (we moved with another family and were now living under one roof while we landed). Upon his return, more of him was here again, as he was able to connect with some important father figures in his life and share tears and beers in remembering his old man’s glory days. We spent long days setting up bunk beds, arranging storage boxes, toiling through the minutia of combining two kitchen’s worth of gear into one. For those who know me, I’m a fairly energized, full of vim and vigor person- I can typically manage a multitude of asks and omni-track in many domains. But for perhaps the second time in my life, I felt at total max capacity- stretched treacherously thin in ways that required me to dig into reserves of resiliency I have not had to access so much before now.

Four weeks after my husband had returned, we were planning on a weekend camping trip and I was getting our gear down off of our second story garage shelf. I went to squat down to get on the ladder, when my butt bumped a box and without anything to stabilize me.

I realized I was falling. I’m not a clumsy person, and I’ve never taken a big fall, so the sensation was a new one and in a split second, I realized I needed to jump to avoid completely wrecking on the ladder and boxes below. That decision may have saved my life. I landed on my (bare) feet, a 7-foot drop onto concrete. And it was the last step I took for seven weeks.

(*Insert Full Stop Here)

I ended up with double heel fractures and was wheelchair bound for two months- NO weight bearing whatsoever. The faces on all of the doctors and medical techs were abominable. They were ready to throw me as many hydrocodone as I wanted (thankfully, I had other, non-addictive options). Miraculously, not only did I not severely damage any other body part (almost anything else would’ve been so much worse), but my fractures weren’t displaced (AKA no need for surgery) and no casts. Unbelievable.

One day planning for outdoor adventuring, the next wheelchair bound. Needless to say, I was humbled, shocked and vulnerable as hell. The lessons were endless and they weren’t so on the nose as slow down or you’re doing too much. It was more like in order to listen deeply, you need to come to a Full Stop.

And listen I did.

It took the form of tending to the nuances of my discomfort- from the purple, swollen soft tissues to the frustration of not being able to go anywhere outside the house alone. It meant surrendering to my husband’s support and letting go of my preferences knowing that he was getting his own crash course on running the entirety of a household (and an invalid wife). It took getting clear on what I really needed, *graciously* asking for support and then sharing my gratitude (without shame) from my most humbled heart. I heard inner guidance and nuances of my heart song that gets drowned out in noise and frenetic activity. I was all but forced to truly receive.

And so, despite my aggrandized ego’s projections that my world would cease to exist without my functioning, it was all ok. In fact, more than ok.

I am never going to take my able body for granted again.

I will never look at folks in a wheelchair the same again- nor will I treat them the same way.

I can speak to the power of receptivity now.

I recalibrated my tendency to overextend out of arrogance and pride.

And perhaps most importantly…

I take more breaks, for if I don’t, I know one will be bestowed upon me.

Perhaps this story will inspire you to do so as well. Then again, a Full Stop can be just what the doctor ordered~