Friday, April 1, 2011


Sometimes, to heal, you have to step away. I'm willing to bet you know the feelings: heartbreak, anger, stress. You start having the kind of days where it feels like everything is wrong and you're not quite sure how to fix it.

I've got the answer for you: Do nothing. Step away.

Distance and solitude. Relaxation and sunshine. Simple living with the bare essentials. Identify what it is that you need and give it to yourself.

I don't mean to suggest doing anything drastic, like joining a monastery or circumnavigating the globe with nothing but a backpack, although you're welcome to. Mostly, what we need in this face-paced world of ours is good old-fashioned rest. But we wait for people to tell us it's okay. We're not sure they'll be fine without us. We wait for someone to give us permission to give ourselves what we need. Here: I'm giving you permission.

As for me, I'm spending six weeks at a dear friend's house on the sea. I'm halfway through my time and will return to Monrovia in a few weeks. Each day, I can feel myself letting go of the stress and sadness I've been carrying for months. It's a blessed alchemy, the healing that happens when we just let ourselves be.

Sure, it's scary. But every time I check, my world is just where I left it, doing fine without me. I'm betting it will be there when I'm ready to come back.

Maybe you're not able to step away and spend all your hard-earned vacation days walking in the mountains. That's okay. Take half an hour instead. Then do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and again the day after that. Carve out this time for yourself like it's the most important thing on the planet, because you are. And watch what happens to your heart, your mind, and all that tension.

So many of us are working in jobs that care for others, determined to make a positive difference in this world of ours. We have noble professions and feel like our time is better spent saving, helping, and rescuing than sitting in a hammock somewhere and taking a nap. Those of us working in humanitarian emergencies like the one happening now in Cote d'Ivoire know what I mean. But no matter how good you are at your job, or how much you love it, you can't take care of others until you're taking good care of yourself.

So be brave and figure out what that self-care means to you. Start small. Maybe it's sharing a cup of tea with a friend, or making a meal just for yourself, or finishing that book you've kept by your bed for months. Whatever it is, good for you. You deserve it.

If you enjoyed reading this, please share it with someone who could benefit. Thank you!

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