Every time I go on vacation I remember why they are so important. A complete change of pace or scenery can be so refreshing. Getting out of the normal routine satisfies the need for a change or a break for some fun. While it can be so challenging to unplug, the value of being disconnected from our very demanding lives can be very rewarding. I often feel like a slave to my e-mail. When I first started my marketing business I was terrified to take time off. I was the sole support for my family of my son and myself. I worked very hard and things went well. My fear lead me to become a workaholic. It took a long time to realize the damage that was being done. I was young, strong and driven to succeed. Even when I wasn’t working I was thinking about work. This pattern is applauded by our culture. Burnout was an old friend from my teaching years.
When my son went off to college I felt I could finally relax and have some downtime. I wanted so much to have a break but wasn’t sure what. One cold and dark February night the phone rang. It took me a few minutes before I realized who it was. Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health was calling me in response to the letter I had sent them regarding possibly working there for a season. It is a retreat center in the Berkshires. When I hung up the full realization of being invited to interview hit me! Wow! I was so excited!
My brain started to work on how I could get there. I got a flight to White Plains, visited my son and borrowed his car to drive up to Massachusetts. I was hired to provide shiatsu bodywork in a department with seventy-seven practitioners and thirty treatment rooms. I decided to go for it. I could work and go to workshops and classes for free in my spare time. My work hours were vague. Looking back I can see that many things were vague but how everything unfolded was like magic.
In spite of the fact that I never got confirmation from the department head that hired me I took off with my teddy bear for company. She never responded to my phone calls or e-mails. I had my father’s blessings and my friends admonishments. It was one of the hottest days of the year! I was able to camp out even though I had no reservation. I easily got a bodywork license. Little did I know I had to do it I in person the day before I was to report. I showed up and was welcomed with open arms. Two days after I started it began to dawn on me that I was number seventy-seven of seventy-seven practitioners. The bottom of the list. I found out that almost no one wanted to work nights so I was able to get enough assignments for clients. The department’s second in command broke her hip and it took two of us fill her very big shoes. I was hosting the treatment reception room with thirty five sessions taking place at one time, taking care of the laundry room, and numerous other tasks. I had to learn to use a very arcane computer database that was used to scheduling – green screen and all. Looking back it all seems like many miracles.
I had rented a room in a house with some other employees. Everything seemed to be going very well. I went to the library to check email and had a friend, back in Evanston, helping with BirthLink. I was happily able to take advantage of the nap room and all organic chef prepared foods three times a day for a ridiculously low price. Imagine the amount of free time I had with no food preparation or purchase! I was meeting all kinds of great people. One day I left my backpack in the hall with my purse and computer in it and forgot about it with no problems. It was so safe there that there were no locks on the guest room doors. It was in a beautiful setting. What an adventure!
The true adventure began when I found one of my roommates passed out on the kitchen floor at 6 am in the morning. I had just received first aid training so amazingly I knew just what to do! I also knew he had been drinking and was diabetic. After trying to revive him I called 911. Luckily, again, they arrived in what seemed like minutes! They gave him a glucose shot and brought him around. He saw me and the first thing he said made me realize he was attempting to commit suicide. He was very angry. I told him his life lesson had not been completed. Later he thanked me. It was almost as if I had driven all that way, fifteen hundred miles, to save his life. I felt complete and ready to go home after that. I was there for three and a half months. I over came so many obstacles and was able to get the much needed rest I had craved. I went home to my bodywork clients and BirthLink refreshed and ready to take on the world. I had the downtime I was craving.