Years ago, while working with an Employee Assistance Counselor in a vain attempt to save my marriage, I discovered something about myself –
I’m a Hibernator….
Not in the usual sense – I don’t sleep through winter and eat all summer – rather, I work feverishly on one or more projects, then must, simply must, rest, renew and rejuvenate before starting the next cycle of productivity. If I did not take a break when I knew I should, ill health soon made sure of long stretches of low-activity.
For years loving family members begged me to quit doing this to myself. Couldn’t I just pace myself and skip the roller-coaster ride of the high hills of productivity and imminent valleys of illness?
The day I discovered my hibernator status is etched clearly in my mind. After speaking of my pride and sense of accomplishment following the completion of a huge project at work, I spoke about my need to rest – that the past 6 weeks had been brutal and how I wanted nothing more than to stay home for awhile, reconnect with my family and get my kitchen back in order.
(Non-gourmet Hubbies never put spices and kitchen tools back in the cupboard or drawer where they belong – I once burned a batch of pancakes trying to find where the male personages had hidden the spatula…I found it in the drawer with the pot-holders…Made sense to them…)
Missy Counselor smiled at my confession and asked, “So, why aren’t you taking a break?”
“Because it’s not my time for vacation yet – I’m covering two other positions, while they’re on vacation…” I smiled, sort of…
“So you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to take a break, right?”
“Well, I guess… but I don’t see that happening.” I laugh at the absurdity of my boss doing just this, or my family deciding they’d love to get up early Saturday morning and do the laundry.
“The trees and bears feel winter’s approach. They do not wait for someone to tell them to shed their leaves or retreat to their caves. They simply do. They know their rhythms and their seasons. They move within their own cycles and make no apologies for it. Discover your rhythms, fashion your life around them and do not wait for someone to give you permission to be yourself.”
We ended the session early that day – what more needed to be said, after she had graced the affair with this simple, but profound, pearl of wisdom?
I took that advice to heart and have never looked back.
It’s not always easy being a Hibernator – it’s nearly impossible when working for someone else and the financial juggling one must do while being a self-employed Hibernator has it’s stressors, as well.
But I’ve never forgotten this advice. And year after year, I try to follow it.
Sometimes, I fall off the wagon. Sometimes, I think the needs that must be met take precedence over what I’d prefer to do.
But I’m still committed to the day when I trundle off to Hibernation and when questioned, simply gaze in amazement and say,
“What? Isn’t this what everyone does?”