>You gotta take a break…

What’s a Tuesday without a little self- disclosure?!??!

Toward the end my internship at a domestic violence shelter in Boston, my supervisor, we’ll call her Elaine, noticed that I had not taken a vacation since September, eight months prior. “Nope,” I answered proudly, “I’m all good, though, don’t worry about me…”, which was cleeeearly the wrong response. I’m sure Elaine made some kind of empathic statement before informing me of the importance of taking time off, and I’m sure I responded rationally, with something like:

“I don’t have enough time”

“I don’t have enough money”

“It’s a bad time”

(Sound familiar?!)

Elaine listened patiently, and then levelled her eyes at me. “Maggie,” she said, “I’m not signing off on your internship until you take a vacation. Let me know when you’ll be leaving.”

I’m pretty sure I stormed out of her office, pissed that she would withhold her signature from clinical hours I had already earned. But overachiever that I am, I went to stay with friends in Arizona for a few days. After a brief and hyperemotional reunion, they made yummy drinks and we all sat outside… specifically, I sat in a hammock. And fell asleep. For. Five. Hours. They said they couldn’t wake me up; one of the roommates, a nurse, said I probably went into a semi-coma from lack of restful sleep.

Now I think of Elaine whenever I need a break – I also think of her when I’m encouraging people to take time for themselves, whether finding ten minutes a day to devote to themselves, taking a vacation/stay-cation, or even a short break from the ordinary. Time-outs and time off make us more alert, fresher, and more patient and kind with ourselves and loved ones.

Remember this, the next time you spend all day with a boss who keeps demanding more, and come home to dog poop on the carpet because your partner wasn’t there in time to walk him, the ceiling has sprung a mysterious leak, and your kid informs you that they “just remembered” about an art project due tomorrow morning. Maybe you just need a babysitter and a night (overnight?) out, maybe something more.

I’m writing this post a week in advance (which never ever happens) because next week at this time, I will be…. on… vacation! A-woohoo! I look forward to returning with a fresher outlook – and smaller bags under my eyes!

…oh, and thanks, Elaine… wherever you are!!!



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