Take a break!

Every one of my friends says that I am too busy all the time. I am a mother, who works full time, and studies at night. I go to toastmasters every month; I am the VP PR of my toastmasters club; I take a writing class; I cook 3 Chinese dishes and 1 soup for dinner for my family. In addition to those fixed activities that are listed above, I continuously add new tasks to my routine. Last week I subscribed to the Harvard Business Review, so I will read the business news before going to sleep. Recently I have also been considering learning a type of graphic design software named InDesign.

When I look at my calendar, there is almost no break in my daily life. Various tasks sit on my calendar. My typical working day is that after I get up at 7am, I cook breakfast for my family, drive to work at 8 and work there from 9-5; I go to school after work on Monday and Wednesday and take the course from 6-9:30pm; then I head home; I continue reading materials or working on the assignments from school; I take a shower at 12am. Then a typical day is done. On the days when I don’t go to school, I go home at 5; I cook dinner, do cleaning, engage with my son by doing some activities together; before 9, I remind him to go to bed after showering; then I hug him and say good night. After he goes to bed, I quickly slip into the study room, work on my computer on various tasks, and then I take a shower and head to bed at 12am.  Another day is done.

What does my weekend look like? I also have a busy schedule. I get up at 8 or 9 on weekends. After preparing the breakfast and eating the breakfast, I will drive my son to his various afterschool courses, such as piano class, drawing class, Chinese class, etc. one after another; I go to do grocery shopping when he is in class. On Sunday, I will arrange all kinds of playdays for my son. For example, we went to a farm which is 80km away to pick apples, corn and pumpkins. This week, we have several Thanksgiving gatherings, and the purpose is to let my kid play with his friends.

In summary, I am wearing a lot of hats, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a staff member, a cook, a driver, a cleaner, a MBA Candidate, a VP PR of my club, a self-learner and best a girl friend to my female friends.  My girl friends can reach me and ask for suggestions or opinions on things they care about; I am also a social media person. I have multiple social media accounts, including Chinese wechat, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, What’s up… I always believe that I am a multi-task person and I am good at it.

I have just gotten used to the fast-paced rhythm, so I have neglected lots of things in my life. One day, my friend asked me: “Did you see the beautiful rainbow yesterday? “ I replied to her: ““Where and when was the rainbow? I did not see anything yesterday.” My friend joked with me and she said, “You are just too busy and you missed lots of beautiful sceneries in your life. You told me that you sit beside several big windows at work but you can’t see the rainbow outside of the window. The rainbow lasted for a while; we took lots of pictures.”

Really? Suddenly I was struck by my friend’s joke and my brain paused. I felt dizzy for a while as I was not used to a break. After 2 minutes, I decided to go to a fitness club after work. I needed to take a break.

On my way to the fitness club, my brain was still working. I thought about the campaigns which were to be launched next week. And my friends are visiting us from China, so I will arrange a gathering and make a reservation at a nice restaurant. And the most upcoming question was what to cook for tonight’s dinner? “

After I arrived at the fitness club, I looked at my watch and realized that I had only 35 minutes in total.  I would go home to cook dinner after the exercise. After changing clothes, I went to the sports area and noticed there was one empty treadmill. I went directly to the treadmill; I stepped on it and was planning to take a 30 minute jog.

Once I stepped on the treadmill, I suddenly lost control and I fell over on it. I immediately realized that the treadmill was still running at speed 3! Several people ran to me and helped me to get up. They asked me: “Are you OK?”

I felt dizzy and I said: “I am fine.” But was I fine?

I went to the washroom to check myself. My teeth were bleeding a bit, my mouth was hurt and I felt pain in my mouth; my face became puffy and blue. I had bruises all over the lower half of my body. I had bruises on my thighs, calves, waist and ankles. What was wrong with me?

That night, I did not go to my study room and log into my computer as usual. After showering, I put an ice bag on my bruises. I did not look at my mobile phone or my iPad to check my social media messages from my friends, instead I lay on the bed and turn on the CD and played light soothing music.

I did not think about tomorrow’s tasks and the to do list. I called my mother and talked with her for half an hour. Before when I called her, I was always impatient in listening to her gossip. After several minutes, if nothing was urgent and important –according to my definition and priorities, I would bring the conversation to an end and hang up. That night, I was very patient. I was not rushing to hang up the phone on our conversation and was not eager to go to my study room to sit at my computer. I felt peaceful. My mom said how long ago did I talk with her like that last time?

After the conversation with my mom, I went to my kid’s room. I looked at my sweet and peaceful angel’s face. Everything was so quiet. I did enjoy the moment of slowness and quietness so much.

Then I pulled out my foot spa, which I haven’t used for almost a year, poured in the water and plugged it in. I soaked my feet in the foot spa bucket, let the warm water wrap around my two cold feet. My whole body got relaxed and my tension got relieved. I took an old book which I had read several years ago. I did not want to inject new stuff into my brain and make it busy. I just wanted to repeat doing simple things and taking a real break.

At that time, I saw the new towel hanger installed on the wall by my husband. I did not even notice. When did he install it? I went to the bedroom and looked at my husband, who was resting on a cushion, looking at his phone. I asked: “Do you want to have a chat? The phone’s screen is not good for your eyes.” He put down the phone and we just relaxed on the big cushion and talked. We talked about our first date, and the memories about some vacations and about the first day John was born. We talked about lots of things. That night, I did have a great sleep without any dreams. I felt so peaceful for taking a break.

After that, I realized that from time to time, we need a break. We need to escape to a tropical beach with a gentle breeze. That’s why we have weekends and vacation days. A break not only drives the tiredness away and relaxes the mind, but it also brings us back to the peaceful side of human nature which we should learn to enjoy.