Whilst in the shower, after a few quiet days of rest and reflection, Lisa hears a familiar voice in her head. ‘C’mon. Get moving! You’re wasting time’.
Do you hear this voice?
So many of us are on the hamster wheel of life, and have great difficulty slowing down to a stop. Even though we know we ‘should’, for some reason we just keep going around and around… almost afraid to stop because, well, what would happen?
Well, we know what happens when you don’t right? We burn out. So why persist with the constant doing?
This is the question Lisa is battling with as she rests and recuperates from a busy couple of months.
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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here.
Hey. I have just jumped onto the podcast after a little morning reflection and thought, I’d just get these thoughts down here, because if I don’t, then I just won’t. We’re here in Munich, and we’ve arrived here after two months of pretty non stop moving about.
And while we have had some quieter days, there’s always been stuff to do, and there’s been a certain pace to it all. And I very deliberately didn’t organize anything beyond this two months because I wasn’t sure how we’d feel. We’re at my friend’s house. We can be here, relax here, feel at home here. It’s wonderful. And something happened this morning when I was in the shower. I just got this pang, and it’s a familiar pang. It was this sense that I had that, oh, maybe I’ve run out of steam.
Maybe I don’t want to do this anymore. Maybe these last few days have shown me that I’m lazy, which is ridiculous. Like I’m laughing because I can hear the ridiculousness of it didn’t stop my subconscious kind of bring that old story, that old chestnut up for me. And I realized then and as I was walking to get my morning coffee, that I still struggle. And I think a lot of women I mean, I have worked with lots of you over the years have an almost distrust of ourselves when we slow down, it’s like we have to work ourselves to the bone in order to justify rest. It’s like a reward for working hard or getting through a busy patch or whatever, getting to the end of a day sometimes. But there always needs to be a reason why we stop. And then when we stop, we think, oh, I don’t trust this feeling.
Maybe it means something bad. I have worked over the years lots to help women because I’ve been trying to help myself really reframe rest as not a reward, as something essential to living a good life. We need to reframe it away from being lazy, unproductive, and pathetic or not able to keep up or a failure on some level to this is just I mean, we have to rest in order to be able to have energy for the things that we really want to do. I mean, these last few days, just potted around the house, I’ve made lovely dinners for my friend and her family. The kids have jumped on the trampoline. We’ve settled into some schoolwork. We’ve journaled. I’ve caught up on a bit of work.
We’ve just had a chance to reset and then to think after two months of really consistent energy spending on getting out and about. And it’s not just the physical endurance of traveling with kids, with backpacks, it’s also just the mental energy spend on getting to a new place, figuring stuff out. Where can we buy things? What is the public transport like? Where do we want to go? What do we want to do? It’s a lot. So it’s absolutely fair enough that we get somewhere, we exhale, we get back to base, we rejuvenate. And there’s that little voice just making me question if this means something more than just needing a little bit of a rest. I said to the kids this morning as we were having our breakfast, I feel like we’re getting the chance to have a bit of a holiday from our holiday. And they said, oh, it feels so nice, Mum. And I said, yeah, I know it does, doesn’t it? Yeah, but what are we doing next? Like, where are we going? Because they’re loving the traveling, but they’ve also really, really loved this.
And I thought a lot about something that I was figuring out last year especially is just really leaning into allowing life to be seasonal. Having as women, we get the absolute well, it’s a luxury if we really pay attention to it, of noticing with our cycles when we want to be out and about and when we feel energized and when we need to kind of go inward a little bit more and we want to retreat a bit. I mean, it’s happening on a monthly basis for us, and yet we exist in a capitalist system that expects productivity and output all the time. It’s like if we’re not always on and always doing in a consistent way, then we’re somehow failing at life and it just doesn’t allow for the reality, does it? It doesn’t make sense. And it’s why so many people are questioning the systems and the structures that we are bound to at this moment in time, because they’re just not working for people. It’s really tough to have two days weekend where it’s so interesting. I was talking to my friend Tony, who we’re staying with, and shops and supermarkets. Everything is closed on a Sunday.
And I said, how brilliant. It’s so brilliant. That Sunday. It’s like an enforced rest day. You can’t go to the shops even if you want to. And she said, Actually, Lisa, it’s one of the things that I hate most about this country. She’s Australian, but has lived here for a long time now and it’s like everything she works full time. She’s got a pretty big job at Munich International School here.
And it means Saturdays are stressful because if one of the kids has a birthday party or playdate or something like that, if she doesn’t get things on a Saturday, then her Sunday starting the week is just so much harder. I just thought, wow, we look at this stuff and we think that’s sort of idyllic. Imagine in Australia, everything was closed, there was nothing for anyone to do on a Sunday. Would that just frustrate you? And I thought about myself and the fact that my son does well. He was doing soccer on Saturdays. Netball. Next year will start very early on a Saturday morning for us with my daughter, and he has soccer on Sundays, but Sunday mornings is often my morning to get to the market. Imagine the market wasn’t open.
I had to do that on a Saturday and I had to do everything else on a Saturday. So, yeah, I might get a Sunday off, but one of my weekend days has been kind of just jampacked. It’s like none of us have kind of got the balance right. And every single working mum and non working mum that I know feels really stretched by most things. She sat down at the dinner table last night. She had brought her kids home and I was making dinner for her and she was answering work emails and she just said, I feel like there’s just always something, it’s just always more. There’s always more for me to be doing. And it’s just everywhere, isn’t it? It’s so hard to rest.
And for her, having someone in her house, making her dinner feels like absolute heaven. And I get that life is there’s going to be periods where we’re really on and that’s okay, but can we also when we get to a period of life where we have to kind of take our foot off the pedal a little bit, that we just allow that? I have really, really struggled with that these years, since Nick died or really since my marriage ended. Like, it’s been heightened for many different reasons. But I’ve also really resisted. I really resisted for a very long time. Just slowing down a little, giving space for the things that needed space. I was scared to I thought I’d never come back. I thought I’d just ease out and then become someone who was completely unproductive and I wouldn’t be able to get myself back in the game.
So I just kept going. And to be honest, it was to my detriment. If anyone asks me at the moment about they’ve gone through something really, really big, I always encourage them to work through it any way that works for you, so there’s no judgment. I mean, also, I think that keeping myself engaged saved me in lots of ways. Like, there’s no right or wrong for this stuff. But I can see now I was trapped in a thought process that I need to keep going. And it’s easy to see how we all get there. We literally exist in a system that requires us to keep going, always growing, always productive, like increasing our output, our revenue, everything, year on year on year is the expectation.
What happens when there needs to be a period of deep rest, sort of. It’s not possible. So how do we find it anyway? And how do we quieten that voice in our head that says, okay, this and this, I can’t drop can’t drop that. I could never drop caring for my kids. Well, I could have. I chose not to. And if I’m going to work, okay, I’ve got to work, but what else can I strip back to make life easier? How could I incorporate more rest? I mean, I essentially spent a lot of 2022 in my bed. I was there as often as I could be and I didn’t understand why.
And it felt a little bit depressing. But I can see now, I can absolutely see where I was, why that was happening. And I embraced it to a point. And I was also a bit hard on myself. It’s hard to see what we’re in when we’re in it, and it’s hard to break out of those expectations that we have for ourself to always be on. I think a big part of it is also around this idea that we really struggle when we disappoint other people. If we need downtime rest time, if we need to strip things right back for whatever reason, then we need to be able to be cool with that. Disappointing other people, and in some respects, disappointing ourselves, not being able to be who we kind of want to be in a moment because we just don’t have the capacity.
It really kind of can get in our heads. Well, it certainly can get in mine. And after years working with thousands of women, I definitely know this to be true. But something that I have been able to observe on this trip is my kids so clearly have different levels of capacity. And it’s not just age related. It’s not just that the youngest is the youngest and runs out of steam earlier than the others. It’s definitely more than that. And as I watch and observe them, they’re also watching and observing me.
And there was one morning where they went, wow, Mum, you haven’t had your coffee today. And I said, no, I haven’t. I need to get a coffee. And they’re like, do you really need your coffee? I said, no, I don’t need my coffee. But coffee is a habit and coffee has caffeine and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I have literally one coffee a day, but it does what it does and they can notice when I haven’t had it. They call me up if I’m sort of feeling if I’m a bit more, I’m really ready to go. You guys like what’s happening? I’ve asked you now three times.
You need your jackets, your water bottles and your shoes on. Let’s go. And it won’t be like, Come on, let’s go. Whoa. I’ll just be a little bit more tense. Mum, did you have a very good sleep last night? And I might just say, actually, no, I slept horribly. And they’ll go, yeah, we noticed you were a bit tired. And it’s that whole thing when we are well rested, everything feels better.
And yet for so many of us, we really, really resist this. My kids, it’s an individual thing, right? It’s completely individual. My need for rest and what works for me is going to be completely different to the next person. So it’s not as though there’s like some universal rule around this stuff. But I can absolutely see I have one child that is pretty consistent. She will always try and be available in really sort of naturally positive ways for whatever is kind of served up to her. She’s there for it and she’ll go and then even when she is tired, she’ll be able to keep going. But she’ll let me know my legs are getting really sore or I feel really tired right now.
But she just kind of has this more consistent energy. If you know human design, you’ll probably get hints. Well, I’m getting hints about my kids, but then there’s my son, who has a need to move his body, who will also just crash out. So he needs more sleep almost than the girls because he’s energized. He likes to move physically. Not moving physically gets him down a little bit. Like these last few days in Munich, where we’ve really had much quieter days. I’m having to still give him the chance to have a bit of a run around.
I could see his mood was sort of dropping a bit and he’s also the one who’ll prone to just getting little viruses and all that sort of stuff. Anyway, I’m not going to give you ins and outs of my kids. All I’m going to say is they’re all so different. They’re all so different in terms of their energy and their capacity and then what that does to their level of being able to just regulate themselves. So my youngest, she has communicated, attempted to communicate and articulate her desire for space and alone time. Also, she just has a different level of energy and capacity. She is massively enthusiastic about being out and doing stuff and as soon as she is starting to struggle in her energy, you can literally see it. She just will not be available for things.
She just maxes out and tunes out and will not be able to be involved again until she has had the rest that she needs. She developed a tick disorder and we have been able to manage that really, really well. On this trip in London, it started to appear and she knew it, and I knew it was this. She was unable to regulate herself. It had been too much social time for her in Ireland. We had a beautiful, amazing two weeks there, but we were with people a lot of the time and near the end it was almost like a breakfast lunch and dinner situation. Everyone wanted to see us before we went. There was a lot, a lot of social time she was on.
And for her as an introvert, it’s just too much for her. She loves it. She’s wonderful and very respectful and she’ll hold it together. Then she will need a lot of time to get back to base. And as we moved straight to London and we were only there four days, and there was so much that we wanted to see and do, it was like this dance between knowing what she needed at that moment and also what the others needed, I mean, this was a dream come true destination. I mean, they’ve heard so much about London and England from a party boy, my ex boyfriend, and they’ve been looking forward to this. So, yeah, so I had to kind of figure things out. But the tick reappeared and it’s like this sign of Dysregulation.
And so she is happy. Happy being at this house in Munich. She has not left it. This is the third day she asked for chill days. She’s just been jumping on the trampoline, her and her sister, just giggling, playing with dolls in someone else’s toy room. You know, the novelty of that for a nine year old, she’s honestly so, so happy. And what will happen is she will get ready for more adventures. She will be ready and she will bring her best self to that.
And we’re all a little bit like her. We’ve all got that. I can physically see when she’s not as regulated. I can also see it with my son. He will absolutely he regulates himself through connection and through movement. It’s fascinating. It’s also given me this moment to reflect on myself and what I need to feel most regulated and available for the good times. I can feel when I get a bit a bit grumpy or a little bit lower than usual.
And for me, as an extrovert, I have absolutely loved the connections that we’ve made with other people. The traveling on our own is wonderful, but I crave people, adults. I don’t think that’s also unusual when you are traveling on your own with kids. But for me, when I am off at nighttime, that is a beautiful time for me. We’ve been able to go slower in the mornings a lot of the time. I haven’t pressed rush. We haven’t needed to stress ourselves out on this trip. We’ve been able to choose our pace a lot of the time, but the last kind of two weeks were definitely paceier than usual.
And I can see it in all of them and I can feel it in myself. And yet there I was in the shower this morning going, ah, you’re wasting this, Lisa. Oh, Lisa. See, this is the real you. This is Lazy Lisa. And it’s just I wanted to share this because it really is messed up. It is messed up that we have lost touch with who we are, with what we actually really need to thrive. Just if you have children, look at them, notice them, they tell us so with such in such obvious ways when they need some downtime and we just keep thinking that they need more things to do.
We over scheduled. I deliberately try not to and yet I’m looking at our life back home with a bit of perspective, thinking, is there space? And with that space, how are we using it? That’s probably a whole other conversation piece but with this I really wanted to get down this whole idea of well, the the distrust of the downtime what do you make that mean for you if you’re tired and and so you just need to stop? Are you worried that you’re going to disappoint other people if you start saying no to things? Does the pace of life that you’re living feel manageable to you? And sometimes it’s out of our control in a lot of ways but what are the elements you can control? Surely there is I’m looking at how to come home and design a life that feels good and noticing it has been such an amazing chance for me to observe my children outside of the context of daily school we have an activity on every single day except the Saturdays. Is that okay? Is that what we want to go back to? Will they almost even want more because they’re back and they want to get involved in all the things? I don’t know will we want to strip back? I can also see that I’ve made myself very available to my children the last few years and that there’s certain things that we can do together that actually fill them up and really, really deeply fill them up. In terms of mum time, it might not be about spending loads of time with them, but really concentrated periods of time in which it genuinely connects with them and filled their individual cups. Something really interesting is especially as we’ve all been together right now, they’re asking for like in places where I’ve got a separate bedroom to them because we’ve been all together in one room for a lot of the time. They’re wanting at nighttime to have be able to come in and talk to me one on one, just share things without their brother and sister or two sisters hearing. And they’re like, that just means so much to them. I need you.
Can I come in tomorrow night then? It’s my night the next night, and I just think stuff we take for granted at home that they can have some one on one chats with me all the time, but here it’s actually a lot harder because we’re all together and that’s what they want. As they grow, that’s what’s valuable to them all one experience. Like, if I don’t get in the water with them, it’s like, mom, no, we really want you to come in, and I think you’re going to have fun whether I’m in there or not. But it’s the fact that I am doing it with them and so these kind of concentrated moments of filling their cup go so far. That’s been really interesting to observe too. Anyway, that’s probably as an aside, I just think that we can look at our kids and we can learn so many lessons about energy, capacity and then how to keep them and ourselves regulated. It’s also individual and it can feel frustrating sometimes to me at times that everyone has the individual needs, three kids and me. And sometimes you just got to suck it up and go, even if you feel like you don’t have it.
But we can always get there. We just need to give ourselves some recovery time as well. What would a life feel like if you weren’t tired and if we had this relationship with rest, with downtime? That wasn’t critical, it was just embraced, it was part of a norm. And I know I have shared a lot about this before, but it’s just become so, so obvious to me. We needed some downtime, we needed a holiday from our holiday. We basically need a weekend and I was questioning that, I was making that mean things. It absolutely doesn’t mean because we’ve grown up in this system that tells us that we always have to go. There is absolutely a turning tide on that, thank God.
The more of us that talk about it, normalize it, the less women will end up burnt out, I hope. Anyway, that’s my reflection for today and I’m just about to head up into an afternoon of not too sure what and that feels really good. See you soon.
Hey! I'm Lisa
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