I'm currently in a period of overwhelm (I may have made that phrase up but I think it works). I'm back in school part-time, in the Navy part-time, a consultant full-time, trying to eat and exercise halfway decently, trying to be there for friends, and of course trying to keep up momentum on book sales, and I gotta say -- I need a nap. Or a hug. Or a caramel mocha (so much for eating decently).
It reminded me of a post I wrote last year after a conversation I had with some friends about our society's pressure to keep going, keep improving, never stop to just... be. So I'm interrupting my running photo posts to re-post the below. Would love to hear from anyone else who might feel like they need just a second on their laurels today too.....
I was hanging out with old friends this weekend, including my friend Rod - the other Goldfish Poodle, and we were talking about our jobs, and lives, and goals, and at some point - someone candidly admitted that they just didn't have much energy right now.
To which I immediately jumped in with a "Right? I want to rest on my laurels. Laurel resting. That’s what I want."
My friend Gina had never heard the expression, so she asked what a laurel was. "Like the Laurel tree?"
Me and Goldfish Poodle, feeling smug that she didn't understand: "No! That's stupid."
Then we simultaneously fail at explaining what it actually is.
Goldfish Poodle: "..It's like resting on your accomplishments..."
Me: "...It's like resting on your hips...wait. It's accomplishments? I thought it was like - haunches..." *starts gesturing to hip area*
Gina was not convinced. So we looked it up.
And it definitely is related to the Laurel tree. And not at all about haunches.
A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), an aromatic broadleaf evergreen...In common modern idiomatic usage it refers to a victory. The expression "resting on one's laurels" refers to someone relying entirely on long-past successes for continued fame or recognition..."
Well, in any case, the thought of resting was really what I was going for.
I get overwhelmed sometimes in D.C. because it's always about the next thing. "Great project - how are you going to make it better?" "Bigger?" "What innovations are you adding next?" "Let's make sure you are stretching this year...."
I'm so tired of stretching. I'm already stretched, people. I'm 73-minutes-into-a-Bikram yoga -class-stretched. How about giving it a second to just be. In all our stretchy flexibleness. How about just maintaining whatever thing it is we've been working on building, and not immediately think about how to improve or change it. How about we stop rolling for two seconds and let ourselves gather moss. I would like to have moss-gathering as a goal for today.
And when I talk about laurel resting, it's not that I think I have all these...laurels. To sit on. I'm not saying I have these major achievements that will keep me "relevant" or " successful" for years to come. I just mean - is it so bad to not have a near-term plan for growth or expansion?
I'm also not saying it's a good idea to just become apathetic and complacent, but how about maintaining the status quo briefly, just to re-energize? And furthermore, how about we stop for a second just to bask in the completion of the last thing?
I read this the other day and it explained my thoughts well:
5 Ways To Make Your Life Something To Look Forward To Again "...Our minds will be too busy thinking ahead, moving on to the next task without enjoying the moment we’re living in. Our minds need time to reflect on what is happening and on what just happened. Without reflection, we lose joy and excitement. We enjoy most things after the fact. Don’t take time to enjoy them after the fact and you won’t be as excited for them the next time around. You’re excited for the joy and happiness you experience, not the actual activity." - Elitedaily.com
Exactly. And that's why I just paid good money to voluntarily buy a cap, gown, and hood, and plan to take off a day of work to walk across a stage somewhere in Baltimore next month. To honor the fact that I gave up my social life, and at times my sanity, for two years to complete an advanced degree.
No, it wasn't a graduation requirement, and yes I've already walked across a stage for high school and under grad. And heck, I've never even been to the main campus of my graduate school Johns Hopkins University because I took courses at their satellite campus in D.C. But you know what? This is the only time I'll ever get my first Masters (probably only Masters - DON'T YOU PRESSURE ME INTO ANY OTHER DEGREE, YOU STRETCHY, FORWARD MOTION-OBSESSED WORLD), so that deserves some pomp and circumstance.
Perhaps I'll even make my Out Of Office email message something like:
"Currently resting on my laurels. Will resume stretching tomorrow."
I suggest you give your laurels a good sitting on today as well. We've all earned it.