Personal Days

When I was a kid, my mom introduced me to the concept of a “personal day.” Every now and then, she told me, we can take a day and forget about school, work or personal responsibilities and just do nothing whatsoever.

I took one, yesterday. While Beth was busy rearranging our kitchen, cooking up a storm, exercising and listening to advanced anatomy workshops, I alternated between napping and reading a novel.

We’ve been back in Sullivan County for a couple of weeks and we have been busy, per usual, working our two businesses, traveling and returning to the rhythms of a new school year. Like most of you, our days and nights are full of getting things done.

My mom became a single parent when my father left her for another woman. Though he was a good guy in his heart, he was also an alcoholic, a womanizer and emotionally and financially immature. As such, my mom took on all of the roles that used to be done by two parents. It must have been emotionally and physically exhausting.

So, what did I learn? Well, the workaholic in me learned to push hard and also work tirelessly when I thought it was necessary for me and my family. And the human in me learned to stop and do nothing every now and then. I took lots of personal days in the years when we were raising two children and developing our businesses. I, too, was frequently exhausted, but I knew how to stop, as well.

I have kept changing. Since we sold our home and probably before that, I started calling myself “semi-retired.” I invested more time in yoga, meditation, journaling, being in nature, long talks with Beth and friends and songwriting for the fun of it. Eventually, I discovered men’s groups, ACA and the pleasures of travel. Aaaah.

A personal day – or however long we need – is a precious opportunity to stop and reset. For me, it is usually followed by some epiphany about what’s important and what’s not. This reset has allowed me to better manage my personal life, marriage and my relationships with family and friends. Unlike my Dad, I have been able to manage (with therapists and my Higher Power) the character defects that cause many a man to crash and burn. There but for the grace of God go I.

So, I don’t begrudge anyone the decision to do what seems like nothing. In reality, it’s a needed pause to make sure that whatever we do syncs up with our values and our life mission.

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