“It’s okay to be tired.” -Gloria Steinem, age 80 at Ghost Ranch, 2014
She’s 31 years ahead of me, and at 80 years of age, a seemingly tireless crusader for women’s equality in the world.
But when I spent 4 days in her company at the Wisdom Sharing Retreat at Ghost Ranch last month, one of the things that Gloria Steinem said was, “It is okay to be tired.” Wow.
As an artist, visionary, cultural commentator, author, educator, speaker, advocate, mother, wife, woman, and human being in the 21st century…I have also been tireless in my (much less significant) efforts over the many years I have been doing the work I do. I am driven by a passion for an Aquarian world, one in which we share power with one another in partnership. I have built my life around this concept; healed myself, deepened my marriage, raised my children, built a private practice over 13 years, developed an entire curriculum catalog and body of work (49,000 files in my computer!), and feel I am now being called into a more expansive opportunity to serve.
I’ve just come off of an incredible adventure for The Frontier Inside western tour! Seen so many beautiful places, connected with so many beautiful people, had so many insightful AHAs! But after a month on the road, 4000 miles of solo driving, a new location every few days, the emotional intensity of meeting my Sheroes eye to eye and heart to heart, providing whole brain communication/leadership trainings and book readings, leading my own 2.5 day retreat in Tucson, family dynamics, and just relying on me to pull myself through it, I am pooped.
My life is finite, and so is my energy level. I am hit by the knowledge I can’t do it by myself. I feel bone tired, like no reserves are there to draw from. The tiredness then devolves into mental confusion…how is my work relevant? who will care about this? who gives a shit? Thank goodness for the little voice that says, Don’t believe it, don’t buy it. At some level of my greater intelligence, I know better. It is time to take a rest.
In the wheel of the seasons, something we all used to know like the rhythm of our breath, there is a natural order, a cyclic patterning that organically flows one into the other. We see the logic of the building of energy in spring as life rushes forth, the blossom and ripening into fullness as harvest and expansion of the next generation occurs in the summer, the celebration of the harvest and subsequent diminishing energy of autumn as we slow down and let go of what no longer serves, into the deep rest of winter. All in preparation for the next cycle.
We have these cycles in our lives, too. We are creatures of nature, after all. In all creative cycles, there is the spring, summer, fall and winter, whether we are creating a relationship, family, community, business, projects, or a movement. It’s wise to observe these cycles so that we don’t waste precious energy working against the natural rhythm.
I visited an old friend and colleague in Houston on my way back east; she spoke about her realization that rest is a key component of self care, and that she has become an advocate of rest for women entrepreneurs. I thought, what a wise way to bring awareness of the feminine into this busy, DO-oriented, left brain culture. The virtues of rest are many, including having the ability to sustain a movement for the long haul, like Gloria has.
The wisdom of rest includes the regeneration required to successfully start the next new cycle (spring) as well as the energy to sustain it through the “summer” of growth. We want a successful harvest, we want to see it all the way through to the reward at the end. (Gardening can teach us loads about life.) Rest feels like deep surrender, deep letting go. It requires trust.
I think about the caterpillar/butterfly theme that is so very cliche…and yet, butterflies and caterpillars showed up everywhere on my journey, including as a major animal medicine in The Frontier Inside Retreat. The place in the life of a caterpillar/butterfly that I was continually drawn was the entry into the chrysalis, the knowing deep within itself that this is what it must do in order to become what it will become. Obviously, a caterpillar doesn’t have the free will human trap that we have, so it isn’t arguing with itself…”I have to get things done, I don’t have time for this right now, but what will happen to me if I let go?” It just follows its innate instincts and cooperates with its evolution. And in the chrysalis, the caterpillar REALLY DOES let go…even of its molecular form. As the dissolution occurs, the caterpillar’s former body dissolves into a green goo, becoming the consistency of a milkshake. Can you get a handle on that level of TRUST?
And so this kind of deep letting go is required of us when we rest. In my practice, I treat a lot of women who can’t sleep at night. When we sleep, are we really letting go? Does this have anything to do with the raging wave of insomnia experienced by people in this culture? Can we surrender in the arms of the Great Intelligence that holds All Things, and trust that we are being held while we transform? We must put aside our objections, the concerns that our business will suffer setbacks, our worries that things will fall apart in our absence. If we want to be in it for the long haul, to change the world, we have to take care of ourselves. What’s sustainable WILL remain. What is no longer needed or beneficial will dissolve. And we will become what we are meant to become.
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