A passion for rest

I’m passionate about rest.

It’s also the one thing I struggle with above all others, and which I many times despair of ever ‘achieving’ in my life.

But that’s the trouble with rest.

How do you ‘achieve’ something that is all about slowing down? Doing less. Trusting. Being patient and quiet. Listening. Being at peace.

The very effort of resting seems to negate the whole point of rest. And how can I be passionate about something that is a constant struggle in my life?

I remember a point in my life where this was made very obvious to me.

I was at a photography workshop in Italy which for several years I had planned and saved to attend. It cost a lot of money, which I had saved and scrimped here and there and everywhere to be able to use in this way. But it was something I was really excited about, and looking forward to with great anticipation.

At the same time, I was building up two businesses – a marketing business and my photography business. I was shooting weddings all over the world and working more than full-time. I had no spare time to speak of – literally, none. And I also have an illness known as chronic fatigue, or M.E. (whose very existence is due in part to overwork and under-rest).

On my way to Italy, I combined several trips into one. A trip to London for work, then a weekend trip to Cambridge to see a friend, then a flight to Italy and hiring a car and driving to my destination.

When I arrived in Italy I was exhausted, frustrated, and getting very sick.

The first night we all sat around an old wooden table with glasses of red wine and fresh bruschetta and dripping candles and hundred-year-old traditions, and talked about why we had come, and what we were passionate about.

Rest was the first thing that came to mind, so I shared that. I may have said a few other things, but that’s all I remember saying.

I remember it most of all because of what the workshop leader said to me several days later.

My exhaustion only increased over the next few days. I was sick all night long, and got no sleep. I was exhausted, broken, sad and hurting. I started looking at flights to go home, because there was no point being in this beautiful place when I couldn’t enjoy or appreciate it.

By the time I had my one-on-one meeting with the workshop leader, I was in floods of tears and I couldn’t even think straight.

He was gracious, and Godly, and loving – but he was very direct. He said a variety of things, but the one thing I remember with perfect clarity is:

“You say you’re passionate about rest, but that’s not evident in your life.”

Bam. Caught out.

I had my eyes opened to the fact that saying you’re passionate about something is negated by not truly being passionate about it.

The turning point (again)

That workshop was a true turning point in my life. Usually turning points are hard to see – they are slow and gradual and we’re well along a different road before we know it – but this one woke me up with a shock. I remember lying on the cold Italian tiles of the bathroom floor thinking, “If I don’t fix this, it could kill me. I could end up in hospital – or dead – because of the choices I’m making in my life.”

It didn’t happen overnight – even the obvious turning points take time to shift when there are so many factors involved. I had six or seven weddings which in my zeal I had over-booked, and I had to finish those. I had to decide if I poured my efforts into either my marketing business or my photography business, because I couldn’t do both. And I needed to begin to rebuild my health.

But slowly, like a huge ship turning around within turbulent waters, it did happen. I said “no” more often. I slept more. I ate better. I went to counselling. I took a twelve month break from weddings and photography work.

And for a little while – a very little while – I was working and resting and in a better place.

And then it all happened again.

Overwork, poor health, exhaustion, frustration, tears. This time it was my minister who spoke very kindly and directly to me, and pointed out that although I was present – physically – at church activities, I wasn’t truly present. He was concerned for me that work was taking over, that all my energies were being channelled into that one area.

I was so discouraged I can’t even tell you how much. Partly because I hadn’t seen this coming, partly because of a whole variety of legitimate, difficult factors in my life that were affecting my thinking, and mostly because I thought, “I’m not passionate about rest again.”

And I despaired of being able to write the book on rest that I wanted to, because I would never truly be at rest.

But this time the turnaround was not quite as drawn out. I didn’t have quite so many things to cancel, and it was easier to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right ones. I didn’t become at rest and at peace in a matter of days, but the process was a far cry from the Italy recuperation phase.

This process will happen over and over in my life, and in yours.

Just because you have one turning point doesn’t mean you won’t have another one. And another. And another of a different kind.

Rest that we don’t understand

I am beginning to accept that yes, I am passionate about rest. I always will be. I have seen my deep need for it, and I see it in the lives of every person I connect with all over the globe.

We’re overworked, exhausted, worn out, weary, struggling, tired – and at times there seems to be no hope in sight. Although we want to want rest, we are ill-equipped to practice it, or we don’t practice it, or we don’t even understand how it is possible.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the deepest desires, and needs, of our lives.

I’m also accepting that I’ll need multiple turning points, and will continue to strive for rest (and, some days, collapse in exhaustion). But I’ll still press on.

Because rest goes hand-in-hand with hope.

Rest takes its root in the person of Jesus Christ, who in Himself is hope. It’s not that He brings hope or stirs it up or gives it out like a gift – He, Himself, is hope. Is rest. Is peace.

Without Jesus, you can never experience true rest.

With His help, you can and will have rest in the midst of this turbulent life that is always swirling about you. It is not something to be strived for – but it is, absolutely, something to be passionate about.

But what is rest? And how do you get it?

More to come, my friends.

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I’m not actually bummed about the grey weather we’re having. Here’s why.

I went for a walk in the MORNING today, which felt like i’m winning at life. 🏆 

Lately I’ve been fitting in my daily walk at 9 or 10pm after a long day of meetings. I’m super grateful for the way it’s still light so late at night, but a walk-at-end-of-day doesn’t have the same motivational kick as the walk-at-the-start. 🌑 

So that one little thing I did puts me at champion status, and affects my entire mindset for the day. 💪 

There are a lot of contributing factors to this morning’s walk, but the top one was that it was grey, cool, and windy...which is far more motivational to me than bright sunshine. 🌬 

I know, it’s weird.

The rest of britain is like UGH WHAT A SHIT SUMMER and i’m here going um...i really, really love the rain. And clouds. And cool breezes. And grey skies. ☔ 

I’ll join in the conversation and be like yea, yea, it really does suck...but that’s just to start conversation and show British solidarity. Deep down I don’t think it does suck. 👀 

I do like sunshine, but after spending 25 years of my life in Arizona, I don’t love or crave the heat. ☀ 

Anything over about 20 degrees and i start getting a bit antsy...and my limit is “23 with a breeze”. 😎 

If it’s higher than that I’ll literally hide inside, not rush out to sit in a beer garden or at the beach. I really don’t enjoy heat at all. 

So thanks grey skies and wind, you helped a lot today. 💪 

Just me? Everyone else dreaming of 30+ degrees and sunshine?? It’s okay if you are...i just...don’t get it. 🤣 

#justkeepgoing #walkoftheday #goodmorning #wegotthis #onestepatatime #motivation
Cancelling things is a superhero skill.

Not all the time, of course: we want to be trustworthy.

And the sheer stubbornness of being a business owner is good.

I can do it. I will do it. No matter what! I can make. this. work.

A product, an event, a new hire, a business.

So we keep pushing. Show up, send the emails, make the phone call, record the videos. More training for the new hire, more new hires. Make sure we never let anyone down.

Of course, things happen. We get sick, something happens to a family member, or there’s an emergency and we need to shift things around.

But cancelling things can be a superhero skill: when you do it well, knowing why it’s time to cut the cord and communicating it well.

Here’s some of what I consider when I’m trying to decide if it’s time to dig in, or stop & go another direction:

1. Does anyone even know about it?
Sometimes it’s been a big part of your business life and used a lot of brainpower, but no one outwith you and your team know it was meant to happen.

2. What’s the cost of not doing this now?
The full cost, more than financial, including:
- Motivational cost for you, team, clients
- Decreased trust for clients
- Loss of strategic partnership connection

3. Could you replace it with something else?
Another day, an online option, a template instead of custom build? Sometimes a replacement isn’t a cancellation at all. You’re doing it, but in a less costly way.

4. Do I have the energy and appetite to keep going?
I can do it with an automaton approach…but given the other things on my plate, where do I want my energy to go? How much do I have to give? Will it renew energy, or drain it?

I ended up cancelling a small event recently, & whilst I was disappointed, it was the right decision for these reasons.

It can feel embarrassing...but cancelling something can be a superpower, if it’s done well & communicated clearly and honestly. And when it’s more the exception than the rule.

Anything you are considering stopping? What impact might that have?

✨This is from this week’s Creative Headspace note. They go out every Friday - except for the rare occasions I skip a week for my own sanity. 😄 Sign up in bio!💌