An Ode to Stepping Away
It’s February, the month dedicated to hearts, from health to romance. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk to you about my thoughts.
On December 20, my lovely Robert and I left for a one-month holiday in Italy. Yup; you read right: one-month holiday. We rationalized it like this: our office is often not busy from around December 20 until around January 6, but more important, we realized that we had not taken any time off from our work since early May of last year. Now before anyone lectures me on privilege, it’s not lost on me how blessed I am that my work allows us to even consider doing this. It’s not lost on me that living simply allows us to do more with fewer resources. I am painfully aware that there are more people than I can count who can’t afford to take a day off, let alone a month.
That aside (only because I don’t have the power to change people’s circumstances except through education), we are blessed to work at a mission we love; with people we love; doing work that we hope makes a positive impact on the world (although if you ask certain meat-loving groups on Twitter, I am the devil incarnate).
Because we love what we do and the people with whom we do it, it’s often lost on us that we are working. All of the gorgeous photos you see of me traveling in Europe on my social media are actually taken while I am hosting groups, cooking and seeing to their needs (with my small but mighty crew). Or you’ll see me while we are filming, which looks fun and glamorous.
But it’s also my work. And work it is. I have come to discover, the hard way (the only way I seem to be able to discover truths) that even when you love your work, you need to step away now and then…for your health and for the health of your work.
As summer turned to autumn last year, we had produced 26 segments in Italy, two series of Christina Cooks (one airing right now across the country, the other beginning in September) and we had hosted four groups of happy tourists in our beloved Italy. I had written a new book; my twelfth. I had taught at Walnut Hill College, a job I adore.
I knew how tired we were because we were becoming anti-social. Everything and everyone seemed like too much work. We could not get enough sleep. We cooked and ate well, but for the first time in many years, my cooking felt like a chore, not an inspired act of life-giving nourishment.
That terrified me.
Why tell you this? Because here is what our holiday did. We did more than rest, not work and sleep late. We did more than walk around to visit our favorite places and see friends who are more family than friends.
We reconnected with each other. We talked about more than business; we sat and took in the vibe of the cities around us. We gazed into each other’s eyes and saw that our love continued to grow over these many years. We cooked and enjoyed every aspect of the process from shopping to doing the dishes.
We fell in love with our life again: our work; our mission; our reason for getting out of bed.
I tell you all of this so that you think about taking a step away from your work, even if it’s just for an hour; longer if you can. Step away from it, even when you love It, so that you can fall in love with it on a deeper level. I didn’t realize that I could love my work more; taking time away from it showed me that I can and I do.
This was the first time in all our years together that we took a month off; it won’t be the last.
Trust me on this one…even when your life is blessed (and many of us lead blessed lives), it takes a step back to appreciate those many special gifts.
And as the old saying goes: at the end of it all, no one will wish they had spent more time at the office.