A Month Long Break

 “I want to vacation so long, I forget all my passwords.” – Unknown

            If America took a month long collective vacation, how would we function?  How would we exist?  Outside of the pandemic, when have you stepped into a town or country and seen that over 50% of businesses are closed for a span of three weeks to one month.  This is the case in France, or perhaps all of Europe.  This is my first summer living in France, and I heard Paris is empty in August.  But experiencing it is a different reality.  The streets have been empty.  There is no school, it seems as if nobody has been in the office, or the grocery stores have had limited selections.  Throughout this month, in my local neighborhood market, pharmacy, and Chinese takeaway the lights are out and signs grace the front door saying “Bon Vacances.”  Good vacation.

            For us Americans, this is unfathomable.  Stores shut down for an entire month.  Automatically the questions that arise are:

Don’t they have rent to afford?

Employees to pay? 

Money that could be made on all the visiting tourists?

Aren’t they losing out?

But are the French really losing out?  They aren’t working for an entire month, instead they are taking a much needed rest as a country.  People are making memories with their children, pets, partners, friends, or even solo travel.  Rest that is needed to rejuvenate them for the next year of work.  They work to live, not live to work.  This is something that I have been slowly unlearning since I have been here.  

Who am I if I am not an employee?  Who am I when I am not in the 9-5 job?  Who am I if I am not defined by my profession?  Can I enjoy my life without equating my worth as a human to the amount of productivity I can offer an organization? 

We need enough time off to ask ourselves these questions.  Two weeks off for an entire year does not suffice. Taking an entire month off repairs you.  Imagine if that occurred as a state or nation?  How would that impact our well being?    

Explore these questions, and see what arises.

“Vacations mean a change of pace, a gentleness with ourselves, a time of rest and renewal, and a time to stretch ourselves and encounter new people, new lands, new ways, and new options.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

A Reminder Stress Is Good

“Comfort is the opposite of stress.  Modern living tends to seek stress-free conditions, where we are comfortable, but this comes at a terrible cost: fragility.  Said another way, comfort is fragilizing.”-Bernie Clark

I am currently enrolled in a week long yin yoga anatomy class.  For those who aren’t familiar with yoga, or yin yoga, here is a brief explanation.  We have all heard of the term yin and yang, and perhaps are familiar with the yin yang symbol.

Yin yoga is the compliment to yang yoga, or our current modern day yang world.  Yang is action, doing, busy, movement, sun energy.  Yin is receptive, stillness, reflective, moon energy.  One is not all good or all bad, we need both to survive.  The facilitator of the class and author Bernie Clark says that “Yoga is a dance, not a wrestling match.  Yang is about changing the world, yin accepts the world as it is.”

Yin yoga focuses on working on our deeper tissues, our fascia, and stressing our joints.  This is to elongate them, release stored up chi/energy, and to balance the body.  

In the class, it was mentioned that we yearn for comfort but to not stress is to atrophy.  I couldn’t help but think of this metaphor for life.   I myself am a creature of comfort.  I do long for what is easy.  Who wants to struggle, when we could ease through life?  But if I keep turning towards this ease and comfort, I do not grow.  I need to remind myself this at difficult times. 

I want my life to be full of ease, and part of me continues to pivot towards this. But if this perpetually happens will I atrophy and decay away?   

The instructor discussed how astronauts who are floating in space for months at a time, they are not using their bones.  When they finally land back on earth, often they need to sit in wheelchairs.  Their bones are weak after not having used them.  We need to put pressure on our bones to support us.  It’s called anti-fragility, but I believe we know this more in our everyday world as resilience. 

We crave comfort, and indeed this is called for at times.  But we cannot live in this space.  In order to continue to grow, we need some stress.  We need to get out of comfort zone.  This could be travel, new jobs, new friends, new experiences.  There are so many ways to shake up one’s routine and patterns.  Pushing oneself is good for you, although it can feel overwhelming.  

It may be helpful to ponder in this season of your life, how are you stretching and stressing yourself?