Organizing, traveling, spreadsheets, marketing, crunching, late nights, eyes glued to the screen. Skype calls, workshops, agreements, networking promoting and speaking. Does this sound familiar to you?
This has been my life for the past three years. Although my work has been deeply fulfilling and amazing it’s also been deeply exhausting. I’m working toward social and environmental justice but at a rate that is ironically unsustainable.
While I was making strides in my work, I was not fulfilling many of my personal ethics, integrities and creative and spiritual potential. I found myself falling into robotic rhythms plowing through projects, not being fully present in everyday encounters-sometimes even with my own team.
Reconnecting with Purpose and Presence
I don’t feel in integrity when I ignore a stranger (who might be new friend) because my head is down on my phone answering emails. I also don’t feel right cutting conversations short that seem menial in comparison to a deadline to meet (that I’ve set for myself).
I longed to recover what it felt like to slow momentum and actually feel like I’m making a difference in the world without trying. I wanted to reconnect with my purpose and find that presence again. I asked myself the question…
How can I be a hero for the planet if I haven’t been a hero for my own family? How can I show up for social and environmental injustice if I’m not showing up for every-day strangers or missing emails of gratitude from my supporters? How can we go on forever trying to make a difference in the world without taking significant, yummy pauses for our own vitality, integrity and ethics?
This past September, my intention was to disconnect and reconnect to myself, to take care of my health and be a fully present daughter, Aunt, niece, sister and friend. In the past, when I visited my home in Michigan, I’d have to squeeze my family in.
I wanted to reconnect with my own voice and purpose without the influence of social media. I knew this would be challenging but if it’s something that’ll help me grow as a person, I’m always game. I thought, “What would happen if I stepped away from all my projects and social media to live with my mom and do a health detox for five and a half weeks?
So, I survived my “Digital Detox” and here’s why I think all change-makers need to take pauses and how it deeply benefitted me:
Don’t be a Stranger
It’s absolutely crucial for healing the planet that we first heal our relationship with each other. That means we must value any and all human interactions as important and meaningful. Giving the gift of presence and authenticity to a total stranger could change the world. Taking a pause from work and technology frees you up to be able to gift the gift of presence to anyone who comes into your path.
Disconnect to Reconnect
Getting off social media and limiting technology for a significant amount of time is transformational. For those of us who are social butterflies, influencers or just sharing the latest world challenge we face, we all need to remember what it’s like to live without social media. To disconnect can reconnect us to our OWN “news feed”, our own story, our own influence, our inner-voice and even develop a stronger telepathic, empathetic, psychic connection that we already intrinsically have.
Be Your Family’s Hero
Although many of us may try to avoid going home because of the inherent challenging aspects (needless to elaborate on), our family needs us more than anyone. Is it more gratifying to be a hero that’s widely recognized or to know you’ve gathered all of your grand-parents stories, taught your nephew a new skill or made crafts with your mom? Our foundation, our roots, our personal ancestry can teach us a great deal about ourselves and the world – if we take the time to listen. Let’s not forget to pause and take that sincere time with our families to exchange growth and inspiration that we can take with us and feel good about in our work.
I have to name it. I see a lot of people in the community of permaculture, transformational festivals and other modes of healing/empowerment that thrive off of fame and use sex appeal in marketing efforts. I see changemakers hyping themselves through “cool” affiliations and making themselves into a sexy brand. Guilty! (raises hand) If the intention is fueled by ego, it will come and go. If it is fueled by genuine, human attempts to connect all sentient beings – it will last generations. We can find that balance and continue to humble ourselves by taking pauses to step out of the limelight and feel what it feels like to not be constantly admired. It helps to bring humility and perspective.
Save Ourselves, Then the Planet
Take a pause to actually check in with our health. Although many of us are generally healthy, how are our adrenals doing? Are we getting all the vitamins our body needs? How are our Iron levels? Are we having healthy and regular bowels? (seriously!) Or have we been ignoring minor health issues? It’s super easy to ‘deal’ with mediocre health in our busy lives. Even if we eat healthily and exercise, our toxic world requires us to check in with our bodies (and our doctors – preferably holistic) and give ourselves the gift of taking time for healing. If you’re young, great! Now is the perfect time to do whatever you need to do to make sure your spaceship is running at 100% so we can continue being super-heros. Our inner ecology is as important as our outer-ecology.
In my experience, a whole and effective transformational leader makes time and space to journey into the creative realm. Even if you don’t think you’re an artist, you are indeed! We all are. Taking time to channel our inner-artist will allow us to go with the flow, become graceful, accepting and celebrate successes. Flexing our creative self through poetry, song, dance or painting allows us to free our stress, exercise our connection with spirituality and drop our egos. At the end of the day, it takes enormous amounts of creativity, collaboration and imagination to come up with solutions to planetary challenges. The more we exercise our creativity, the more clear our creative channels will be to change the world, inspire, create, enjoy and share!
Learn to Be
We certainly all know how to ‘do’ that’s for certain. Do we know how to ‘be’? What does it mean to ‘be’? To me it means deep contentment in the now-moment, minus the aching desire to outwardly act or participate. ‘Doing’ involves engaging in ‘productive’ activities that our minds think will bring us success and happiness. Being is the process of inner-fulfillment that allows us to see, feel and gain wisdom we wouldn’t be able to access because we’re too busy ‘doing’. By just ‘being’ for a month, I feel I was able to access a prolonged deep healing, self-reflection, creativity and a presence I wasn’t able to feel before. In our younger years, we’re so eager to fly, excel, create our identity, figure out who we are and live out our destiny. However, it’s finding the center between doing and being that allows us to access deeper levels of wisdom and spiritual messages.
Re-Aligning Guiding Forces
Taking a pause from our work and technology gives us the time and space to evaluate, clarify and refocus the deepest forces that guide us. We’re constantly evolving and so are our core values, motivations and passions. When we give ourselves the gift of asking ourselves ”what drives me to get up in the morning these days?”, we’ll be able to check-in that our actions are aligned with our guiding forces. I do a small retreat for myself at least once a year to dream my own guiding forces.
A lot of us will go and go until we burn out or until a medical issue calls our attention – at least that was the case for me. But, our bodies know best and WILL notify you when it wants you to take a pause. Personally, I always did my yoga and dance practice every day, ate healthily and participated in regular healing activities even throughout my time working. I’m here to say, I don’t think it’s enough. I think we all need and deserve a thorough pause to actually go deep and come out more rejuvenated, aware and vibrant in mind, body and soul.