In 2016, at fifty-five I went on hiatus from work that I love. As a facilitator for healing, I am fortunate to be doing for others, what I am also doing for myself.
Clients hear me say repetitively, to the point of wearing a tread into the sentence, that “We must put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others." To this day, every single time I say this, I whisper to myself "What about you dear one, are you walking the talk?" My answer before the hiatus was "mostly". A blank calendar taught me that "mostly" isn't ever enough.
I started babysitting at thirteen, going straight from graduation to restaurant labor. Paying my own way, I worked sixty to eighty hours a week, only taking an eight-year break to pop out twins, make sure they knew where the refrigerator was, go to school for massage therapy, and then open a practice.
But not working for an extended period of time meant no income and that isn’t easy to do no matter what condition the bank account is in and ours wasn’t in the green zone. But aside from solvency, work said something about who I am, whether I’m productive or lazy, and the level of dependency there was on my spouse paying the bills. What I do had become a definer on the kind of person I am and that meant I never really listened to what I needed first.
For the first few days of the hiatus, I bit into the loony side of nothing to do. I nearly caved after ten days but knew that quitting on hiatus would be worse than staying. When I announced that the hiatus was for my deep-dive healing, clients, friends, and family, gave me their unequivocal support—going back early would be a disservice to that intention. Once, my kids who from birth had been told that I am adamantly opposed to theft and lying, caught me stealing their Halloween candy. Though I got sneakier and was never caught again, they've looked at me suspiciously on November first ever since. With the hiatus I'm not referring to how anyone else would have felt if I quit, it's what it would've meant to me and my body, emotions, and my spirit. I made a commitment to me and for once I honored what I originally set out to do for myself.
With months of blank screen, my mind was startled into stillness. In typical fashion when I stop mindlessly dancing, a transition had the opportunity to begin. The music ceased and I sat in the chairs along the wall, letting other people dance while I contemplated my life. There was a lot to contemplate; the state of my physical and mental being, relationships that I had left one hand on while the rest of me frenetically danced, and ultimately my long-given-the-scraps-of-my-
Throughout the nearly six-month break, I listened. There was the drip of melting ice from the eaves, a gentle breeze setting off chimes, the rustle of feathers from birds in the feeders, and words as they sashayed one by one, from my inner wisdom to a newly awakened self.
It is long past time to heal.
Survival is not enough.
Being whole is enough.
I have learned how to hiatus. The experience unsettled me, it uprooted old thinking, old habits, and misplaced items. It shook up my dance card leaving me my only partner and that was the point.
We are here on this magnificent planet for a very short or very long time, depending on how we look at it. Either way, life deserves the respect of our attention, our participation, and our breath.