After dinner, my daughter and I run in the fading light.
“Roar” she squeals, giggling as she chases me, chubby cheeks aglow, long not-so-toddler-anymore legs akimbo.
When she catches me, we sit on the warm stone driveway, pulling hundreds upon hundreds of grass spears from my shorts, and then her long lilac dress.
She lays down, hands crossed behind her head, watching the sky as I sing her songs and pull one by one by one each tiny grass spear.
I sing to her the ancient songs as I crouch over her little body, the Native American songs my teachers taught me in circle many moons before.
The songs and sounds fall and rise and flow, my wrist flicking grass spear by grass spear.
The stones are warm and the twilight is gentle.
“Moon” she says simply, blue eyes round as she gazes up.
I look up.
There on the horizon, just above the tips of the rainforest, she hangs with her almost-full moon belly.
Grandmother Moon, my daughter and me.
I remember a workshop once, with Ostara still rolling in the deep of my belly.
The teacher asked:
“What do you most look forward to about your child?”
I thought for a while, before knowing:
“I look forward to sharing my spiritual tradition with her.”
And she laughed that dry, jaded laugh that mothers get sometimes, and said:
“You know there’ll come a time when she’ll want nothing to do with it, right? Where she’ll reject all of it?”
And I shook my head and stayed silent, because my story was so different from her own.
It’s not about the crystals.
When I say this I mean: it doesn’t matter if my daughter doesn’t always love crystals or meditation or journalling or healing or talking or art or shamanic circles or intuitive healing or bushflower essences or any of the other myriad ways that my spiritual tradition is sometimes expressed.
It’s not about who I pray to, or if I pray, or what specifics I believe in. Those parts aren’t my spiritual tradition.
She can choose, or choose differently.
It’s all the same to me. Because that IS my spiritual tradition – the one where you choose. The Buffet Tradition of Spirituality – where you choose what’s right for you from the great panoply of possibilities, and leave the rest.
My spiritual tradition is the Great Act of Living:
Of seeking. Of looking for happiness. Of looking for moments where the world is lit up and bright and holy.
Of hunting for who we are and why we’re here and please God, let this be good.
Of seeking. And attempting to see:
see the magic inside you. see the magic in the world.
The magic. The love. The beauty. The sacred. The joy of it all.
I hunt for it + I seek it, each moment, each day, each year.
And sometimes I don’t find it. Sometimes I fumble + grumble + fuck it up + lose my way.
I lose faith that it’s all going to be okay. I forget to still myself to glimpse that tiny window of peace.
I don’t get it right all the time, and I’m not a guru.
Sometimes the only things I see are the things that piss me off, the things that get me down, the things that make me feel attacked.
But then a bird feather finds its way to my feet. The exact right words come my way. I fall back onto the right path. A moment of kindness is bestowed upon me.
And I witness it all again. All the glory and the joy and the choice and the magic.
There, just before me, is the holy.
The hour folds over into warm baths and darkness.
At bedtime, she looks out the window, looking for wallabies or scrub turkeys to say goodnight to. There is only stillness and the moon.
“Goodnight Moon”, she says, but she won’t leave the window, too transfixed she is by that golden orb of light.
I take a deep breath in. There, in that moment, I have a choice.
Each life, a collection of a million infinitesimal choices.
Do I insist on closing the curtain, settling her into sleep earlier?
Or pull it back and let magic (and potential sleep-deprived mayhem) weave its way into our evening?
Do I escape earlier into the night, into my solitude, or do I remain here? Here with Grandmother Moon, my daughter and me?
Where is the holy to be found tonight?
I breathe out, tie the curtain in a knot, pull the pillows close to where the moonlight falls in the window in a great cast of silver tinged light.
We curl up together in the shaft of moonbeam, and watch together the most beautiful light show ever created.
Mists and clouds roll over the moon, enveloping her and revealing her.
Birds flight across the sky atop the rainforest canopy, the last stragglers finding their way home to nest.
I whisper Ostara a story of a woman who shares her full brightness and retreats into a cave each month. I know her story, have lived it.
I dream of all the times before I have gazed in rapture at the moon: as a child, watching as she rose over the farm’s fields, how she painted the land ghost-silver even in the depths of night when I’d awaken to stare out my window. As a teenager when her light would fall through the window of my bedroom in the boarding school dormitory. I gave up the large senior sized room just for a window so I could bask in her moonlight.
And as a maiden, when she was no longer just moon to me – she became family – she became Grandmother Moon. She was kin just as Mother Earth and Father Sun was to me. In her story I learned the rhythms of my creative spirit, the bleeding cycles of my womb, the depth of my own womanly wisdom and intuition. Which is all just a whole lot of words which really mean: when I looked at her, I felt at home. It feels like everything is alight.
Grandmother Moon, she means so much to me. Even when my relationships with my own mother and grandmothers are disrupted, distorted, dissolved, there is always this. This grandmother who knows my secrets. This grandmother who calls out my widest, wildest, most womanly self. This grandmother who reminds me:
I am divine. I am whole. I am home. There is magic in this world.
This is all I hope to teach my daughter.
I’ll say some with words, but most of all I hope to show her by knowing it myself,
so each cell of hers knows the song:
I am divine. I am whole. I am home. There is magic in this world.
And sometimes she’ll forget the song.
And then sometimes she’ll remember again.
Fruit bats fling themselves across the sky now, their silhouettes cast strong and midnight black against the moonlight.
I dream what they are up to. I like to think they are celebrating some kind of tropical Halloween, all dressed up humorously and ironically like Count Dracala, all headed off to some exclusive soirée just around the river’s bend.
My daughter whispers “Moon, Moon” as she tries to find that elusive spot to fall asleep in.
Finally she settles on one of her favourite places since she was born three years and three days ago: laying curled up on my chest, her head beneath my chin.
As a newborn she occupied just the space of my chest down to my belly button. Now five times the size of a newborn, she extends over my torso until her legs tango with mine, down to my knees, her heavy weight soft and warm and comforting.
I fold my arms around her, stick my nose in her hair and we watch the moon together, chests rising and falling together until softly, slowly in a beam of moonlight, she drifts into Dreaming Land.
I kiss her head. I whisper goodnight in the soft fuzz of blonde curls.
I’m tip-tapping you away from the corner couch of a cafe. Out the window I can see mountains and (you guessed it) rainforests upon rainforests.
I’m here on Burnout-Recovery, drinking (chai) tea and eating (gluten free) cake.
And I’m here to talk about burnout.
Because you know what?
I’m pretty damn sure it’s not just me who gets it.
In fact, I reckon that most people experience at some point in their lives. Maybe over and over again.
ESPECIALLY if they are business owners. Or creative. Or highly sensitive. Or have need-to-achieve predispositions. Or are mamas. Or all of the above.
And considering that’s about 98.7% of my blog readers, I figured I’m in good company.
And it’s bloody well time we talk about it.
So. Burnout. What doth you look like?
Oh burnout. YOU.
You of a thousand faces.
You who looks so different to every person who has you. Each body will react in a myriad of wacky, wonderful ways.
To some, you look like exhaustion. Deep, bone-seated exhaustion that’s hard to shake.
You can look like running out of juice, out of joy for life.
You can look like enthusiasm and motivation going for a long, long stroll into a land far, far away.
You can look like chronic, crippling anxiety. The kind that isn’t really about anything in particular but about the state of everything. It sits on your chest like a rock.
You can look like a vague feeling of being stressed out – all the time.
You can look like panic attacks. Those awful moments when it’s hard to breath, when the world makes you dizzy, when you can’t fight the rising fear that takes over your lungs and propels you into oh-god-am-I-having-a-heart-attack? Is-this-the-end? doom-itis that feels uncontrollable.
You can look like overwhelm. When everything is too much and nothing feels right.
You can look like not wanting to create, not being excited to wake up.
You can look like a deep, dark cave that’s quiet and silent and away from everyone else and everything else and is most definitely the place you want to be.
It may look different to you.
One thing is a constant for everyone though – when you have burnout, it sucks the big one.
Think you’ve got it?
Keep reading – let’s talk about how you can heal it.
The first sacred truth about burnout:
First and foremost, the thing I need to tell you most of all:
It’s okay if you burnout.
It’s really okay.You’re not a bad person. You’re not lazy for having limited energy. You’re not flawed because your body has reactions to stress.
You don’t have unlimited energy. You can’t do it all.
I’m sorry. I know it sucks knowing that. And I know that it sucks FEELING that when your body has hit a wall.
But most of all, you need to know:
In fact, it can be really, really useful to have burnout.
Why The Fluckity Fluck Burnout Can Be Useful
Burnout can be your friend.
It doesn’t feel like that of course.
It doesn’t feel like that at ALL.
When burnout strikes, it feels like an immense ball of suckage hitting you like a freight train.
Burnout, for all of its suckfestival, does have its blessings.
It teaches you your limits.
That you are human.
That you need and deserve and are thirsty for self care.
It gives you irrefutable proof that you need to tend to yourself. That extreme self care isn’t for selfish wankers, it’s essential for everyone.
It’s the body telling you in no uncertain terms – in a way that you can’t ignore – that it needs you to be balanced and happy and replenished in your life.
Because it’s patently unsustainable to do anything but.
It’s the greatest holiday-giver of all time to those who won’t take holidays.
It’s the enforcer of gentleness.
It’s your body’s barometer telling you when it needs rejuvenation and rest and replenishment.
It’s the sound you can’t bear to hear – the one that forces you to sit upright and listen to the voice of your spirit.
And it takes you on a mammoth healing journey.
So let’s talk about this mammoth healing journey, yeah?
Let’s talk about what can help + heal your burnout.
What Can Help + Heal Your Burnout
This is the time for you to start healing what ails you and replenishing your body’s energy supplies.
A Toolkit For Healing Burnout:
More massages than you think is necessary. As my beloved healer Hiro says to me (in her very loving, honest way) “One a day. And you’ll think it’s over the top because you believe that no self care is the standard.” I still can’t bring myself to one a day right now – but I’ve upped my upper limit to be able to do three in a week (which I usually think is impossible). And it’s worth it. And needed.
Acupuncture is one of the most powerful alleviators of anxiety around.
Get a freakin’ life. I mean that with a whole lotta love of course. Get some hobbies. Do shit you love doing. Think of what your three year old self loved. And your nine year old self. And DO THOSE THINGS.
Go be with friends. Go have a ding dang silly adventure (even if it’s just for a day!) with peeps you love. The restorative power of face-to-face gasbagging is cwazy powerful + underrated.
Chicken Soup actually IS brilliant at healing all manner of maladies including anxiety and burnout!
Set containers around your work. No more working on weekends. Stop working at least a couple of hours before you go to bed.
Naps + going to sleep at “Granny o’clock”
If you’re a mama: enlist support, in any kind of way you can. By hook or by crook, you need time where you’re not tending to someone else’s needs, and instead are listening to your own. I’m so grateful to the woman who said to me when Starry was six months old: “Leonie, give the baby to Chris for the afternoon. And go into the studio. And do some painting. Get some headspace. You need it. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you need to.” And when she said that I was all “YEAH RIGHT AS IF I COULD EVER DO THAT MY BABY NEEDS ME TOOOOO MUCH.” But I soon realised that baby needed much more a sane and happy mama. And I handed her over to the care of my husband, and took care of me. And it made all the difference.
Have some freaking footbaths. Think essential oils and flowers and all that shiz. SELF CARE CENTRAL, LAYDEE!
Rub lavender essential oil on your wrists.
Have dedicated time where you DON’T think about work. It’s why I read trashy Victorian romance novels: because it gives me a brain holiday. My 24/7 Idea Making Machine (aka my noggin) goes into Lie-on-A-LieLow-In-The-Pool-Sipping-Frappes mode. In a word: giddy bliss!
Stay away from sugar, caffeine + stimulants. They’ll make you feel extra cray cray.
If you are dealing with a situation that is stressful or that you need support around, find a good counsellor.
If you have ongoing anxiety, see a Doctor. I’m all for hippy woo-woo techniques, but when anxiety and post natal depression kicked my butt, western medicine was a great healer and support for me.
Here’s Some More Blessings of Burnout (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like That Right Now)
My wise friend Mr P said something once upon a time that’s stuck in my mind ever since.
We were carpooling to work back in the day, and in the midst of silence after a conversation about nothing, he said suddenly:
“Miss Leonie, I’ve always thought breakdowns are misnomers. Because so often they really are breakthroughs.”
Or as Tina Kennedy shared:
“Everytime I’ve melted I’ve emerged in better form.”
And it’s true.
I’m grateful for every burnout I’ve ever experienced.
It’s taught me more and more what it is to be a Leonie. What it is to be creative and sensitive and kind. And most of all, what I need in order to survive and thrive and shine in the world.
As Hiro says to me
“You’re going to emerge from this burnout with an even clearer picture of what it takes to keep you well and happy.”
And it’s true. What a blessing.
Burnout is like getting a university degree in self care, in being so disciplined in the art of healing yourself and tending to the soft voices inside you.
Burnout teaches you what it takes to be splendidly human, wondrously creative, and intrinsically you. (Click to tweet this)
And this is all good work to do. As you become wiser at this whole self care thing, as you become better at the Art of Thriving As You in the world, you’ll take that message into who you are, and what you teach others. You’ll teach your kids what it looks like to tend to themselves. You’ll teach every mama and woman around you that it is good and holy and needed and true to be replenished.
This is the work that needs to be taught.
Here’s another blessing of burnout:
You’re going to get better at recognising burnout, and stopping before it hits.
The first couple of times that I did burnout?
I did them proper good. Think: collapsing, needing three months of holiday, panic attacks on the street.
I ran towards burnout like a freight train was my saviour.
And then the train hit me and I realised:
Nope, it wasn’t. More work wasn’t going to save me.
Also: this hurts.
Since then, I’ve become much better at that whole
“Hey look, I can see lights coming down the track! I wonder what that is… oh HEY! Fuc*, it’s that freight train again! Pull up! Pull up!”
And I stop sooner and sooner.
And it hits me softer and softer.
Until it becomes a creative rhythm:
“Oh hey. I’m feeling a bit of burnout again. I need to be replenished. I need to take some time off. I need to take really good care of myself. Where’s that list of tools that help again?”
Here’s more blessings of burnout:
It’s a wonderful excuse to love the shit out of yourself, and tend to yourself with more nourishing things than you’d normally do.
Write a list of all the ways you could help yourself heal right now.
Listen to the voice. The one that tells you:
I need to nap. I’ve always wanted to try out reiki healing. I want more time at the beach. I need to be surrounded by candles. I would like to doodle with rainbow crayons. May I please have some vitamins. I need to be cared for.
It’s the voice we often ignore until we are forced to listen.
And thank god we are.
Because that little voice is leading us home.
Back to our selves. Back to our bodies. Back to our souls.
You, like me, are probably weeping into your tea at the announcement Google Reader is heading off on the rainbow journey/gone walkabout/returning to the earth/insert hippy synonym for “died up the butt” here.
So I’m here to tell ya who I’m turning to, who I’ve tried and not adored, and why I’m never ever giving up on my beloved blog subscriptions!
Who I’m Using Now Instead of Google Reader
BlogLovin. You’ve probably seen their ridunkulous cute logo before:
Anyhewsles. It was pretty much the easiest transition EVER.
Sign up with a free Bloglovin account using your Facebook login (holy DINGER I love it when websites offer that option now!)
It automatically comes up with a screen asking which Google Reader account you want to import.
You click a button. And BAM.
All your beloved, favouritest, most inspiring blogs all ready to be read.
SO MUCH EASIER than downloading weird files using Google Takeout and importing to a new service.
Bloglovin’ looks bloody gorgeous too.
And truth be told, I was thinking of converting to Bloglovin’ a couple of years ago because their interface is so pretty – but just couldn’t do away with all my services being at Google. Now Google is no longer my meta-cloud of everything under the sun… It’s time for some Bloglovin!
Who I Tried And Didn’t Love At All.
Tried NetVibes. Liked they had a Facebook login option. Didn’t love that it is so complicated – I just want a simple reader. Also didn’t love that it didn’t pull all my subscriptions across properly, and missed a whole bunch of new blog posts overnight. I don’t love missing reading my favourite blogs at all!
Tried others from the crowd of options. Didn’t get past the ones that had no Facebook login. Sorry websites of the world, I just can’t remember another username and login! #braintoofull
Why I’m Not Relying On Facebook/Twitter/Social Media For Blog Posts
You’re pretty much never going to be able to see every single post that your favourite blogs produce, regardless of whether you follow them on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/Google +/Instagram/insert-the-latest-hottest-social-media-trend-that-I-haven’t-jumped-on-the-bandwagon-of-yet.
Plus, it’s crazy-making. Your attention goes in a gazillion directions on social media – from the photos of that girl-from-high-school-that-you-didn’t-really-know’s new kitten pictures to the swampland of inspirational motto photos.
You just can’t rely on other people to tell you what’s interesting to read all the time either.
I’ve always treated Google Reader like reading a newspaper. It’s a quiet place on the internet where I get to select what I read, and can filter out all the things I don’t want to see. It’s inspiration corner at soul replenishment o’clock. Interesting, invigorating, smart. It’s my own personally curated piece of the internet, filled with everything I want to hear about.
Blogs have been my favourite invention of the millenium, and I’m not giving up my dedicated love of reading them.
So dat be me.
Hope this helps, possums.
I’m sending you commiserations on ze loss of our dear Google Reader. And lotsa hope + goodness for the next decade of inspirational blog reading at Bloglovin.
peace and love but definitely-not-mungbeans-because-I’m-apparently-allergic-to-legumes,
It’s close to midnight, and I can’t sleep. Too buzzed up from creating my next big thing.
And I thought:
What better thing to do than write to you?
Send a love letter off into the world?
So here I am. Turning up. Tapping softly over the keyboard so as not to wake my slumbering love.
If he catches me up, he’ll gently send me to bed. He’s handsome like that.
So anyhewsles, dearest. Two parcels of treasures to send you off into the wonderous world this weekend. Three, actually, but who’s counting?
The first. “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer.
While I don’t necessarily believe you shouldn’t set a price on exchange, I deeply believe in that moment of connection between giver and receiver in sacred commerce. With everything I do, I believe it’s a destined thang. You choose me, and I choose you. I am humbled and grateful and honoured to be allowed into the lives of so many, and do the most I can do to help. It’s a sacred, holy contract and I think Amanda conveys that beautifully.
The second. Another Amanda Palmer. Look it’s a weekend brought to you by her! Hoorah!
This one a song. I didn’t GET the song until half way through.
And then I tumbled into love. Because it’s about self-love. About being human and not being exactly who you thought you would be but it being even better in the end anyway.
It’s the launch issue of Messenger Collective – a gorgeously designed magazine just for entrepreneurs, bloggers & women changing the world.
I’ve been looking for something just like it for ages – and I’m so glad Lisa Messenger heard the divine call & went ahead and created it!
(Hilariously enough – I found out about it via friends on Instagram today, ran down to the local newsagency, pounced on a copy like an eager cat & have devoured it with joy. Gosh I love the creativity of this world! And the Instagram-alerts-of-cool-things!)
I’m sending you oodles & poodles of love, kindness & magazine-dreams come true,