Earlier this week, a short text by Sylvester McNutt popped on my feed. How apt, I thought. It said this:
- “Creative people need to sit around and do nothing
- Creative people do not need fully booked calendars
- Creative people need to hear the world’s heartbeat
- Creative people need stories and words to inspire
- Creative people need space to feel, think, and be”
I thought this was apt because I had just finished launching an online course. I had spent the last couple of weeks focusing exclusively on that, using what short time I currently have (whilst also looking after my new puppy), in short, sharp, focused burst. Then I ran a webinar which over 150 people from several different countries attended. It had been a lot of intense work to get it all done within the deadlines I’d given myself.
A day or two before I ran the webinar, I remember thinking: next week I need to rest. I’ve come a long way into accepting this process of growth and rest, but I’m still somewhat experiencing resistance to it. The conditioning of being productive all the is so strong in our culture, and even if my own wisdom speaks louder than ever before (this was the first time that my inner voice had told me ahead of time to prepare for rest), something in me still fights it. Something within me naively believes that I can carry at the same pace all the time.
My body had other ideas: the day after the webinar I started feeling unwell, exhausted, with chills. This abated when I rested, but, like a convalescent who gets back to work too soon, I thought I could go back to business as normal the following day. My body would have none of it, and I felt unwell again the next day, and had to spend most of the day taking it easy and asking my family to step in and care for the puppy so I could rest.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. The first time I remember crashing in a spectacular way like this was the day after handing over my completed PhD thesis, 25 years ago. I fell ill and had to be in bed for a few days. Whilst working to a deadline can be exciting, we can only run on adrenaline for so long.
I have been exploring this topic, and my resistance to it, for years. I’m slowly getting better. At least I’m aware of the pattern. Recently, having a Human Design reading with Bingz Huang was very helpful to cement this knowledge further. In my design, I have the Hermit/Opportunist profile. This means that I need alone time after being with people.
I have blogged about my process several times over the year. You can read about my journey in chronological order in the following posts:
- Today I give myself permission to do nothing
- The importance of switching off when you work for yourself
- Getting out of overwhelm
- Resting after intense work is a necessity not a luxury
- Do you confuse productivity with effort?
- How I went from overwhelm to joyful productivity and authentic marketing
I’m going to turn 52 in a couple of months. I’m nearly menopaused. As I get older and more in tune with myself I am much more aware of the need to listen to my body’s needs for quiet and rest. In fact the need for a peaceful and slower pace of life is deep, and one of the reasons I am stopping birth doula work (more on that in a blog post soon), and moving into teaching online rather than face to face and travelling constantly like I used to pre-pandemic. When I give my energy to the world, I need to retreat and rest afterwards. In the past, when I taught face to face, the need for rest afterwards was very clear because it was intense physically as well as energetically and spiritually. When working online however, it was easier to ignore, despite my inner voice’s warning. I fooled myself into believing this didn’t count. However, I connected with a large group of people, and I think energetically it’s very similar in terms of demand to being face to face. I probably need to develop, beyond the post creative rest, techniques to protect my energy when teaching live online. This will be the subject of another post (research it)
More recently I wrote a blog about the birth cycle as a model for joyful productivity.
As I walked my dog this morning I thought: this is like a mini postpartum. Even the chills caused me to wrap myself with a womb belt and hot water bottle.
Going forward, plan to heed my own wisdom and plan for a mini “postpartum rest” after the birth of each new project.
Since my inner voice warned me this time, I made a vow to plan for such rest in the future after finishing creating something new. To use my own template of the 4 pillars of the postpartum: social support, rest, food and bodywork. To book myself a special treatment ahead of time when planning to launch a new course or any other big creative birthing.
Does this resonate? Do you experience this need to rest, to slow down, after an intense period of creativity and/or productivity? Do you plan for the flow of birth and rest?