Stop.

It’s no surprise to those who know me or read this blog that I have fingers in a lot of (no carb!) pies these days. What started with this blog has blossomed into two non-profits, The Diabetes UnConference, policy advocacy, reviewing funding grant applications as a peer reviewer nationally and internationally, and attending/speaking at health conferences.

stop-sign-1420987-639x639This past month, I didn’t stop. Coming off the high of The Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas, there was a short vacation with family (although John says that I really didn’t act like I was on vacation), then the launch of the DPAC #suspendbidding campaign and in the midst of it all, travel to the CWD Friends For Life conference in Falls Church, where Bennet and I unleashed the DPAC Diabetes Advocacy Boot Camp with some phenomenal guest speakers and calls to action. All good things. All important things.

Yes, I slept. Yes, I ate. Yes, I took time for myself. (Although in retrospect, reading a grant proposal with a highlighter in my hand while I got my hair cut doesn’t qualify as time for myself.) I was gearing up for a weekend conference that I not only wanted to attend, but had the privilege of helping to design as an advisor. On Thursday, I headed to Chicago, raring to go.

Off.

And I slept on the plane. Normally, once the flight attendant gives the signal that it’s OK to do so, I’m like a thoroughbred out of the starting gate, whipping the laptop out and working on projects and ideas while others watch cat videos. This time, while waiting to take off, I simply shut my eyes to meditate for a few minutes and the next thing I hear is the announcement that we were landing. That should have been my first clue.

Chit-chatting with the driver on the way to the hotel, I began to feel “off.” That “off” that you can’t really put your finger on, because you’ve done the mental checklist in your head:

  • Low blood sugar? Nope.
  • High blood sugar? Nope.
  • Food in your belly? Yep.
  • Could you be “real people” sick? Nope.
  • Hydrated? Yep.
  • Rested? Am I ever? But I just had a nap!
  • Is Venus in retrograde while you’re wearing itchy socks? Nope.

I assumed that it was a combination of getting off a plane and getting up early to get on that plane, but there was the little voice in the back of my head that said…  “Something else is going on.”

stop-1473017-639x772I checked into the hotel, intending to drop my bags and take a walk. That all changed when I opened the door to my room and a wave of exhaustion swept over me. Not a normal wave; a tsunami that scared me enough to text John and say: “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. What I am feeling isn’t normal. This is not normal exhaustion.” My smart husband told me to go eat lunch, then head upstairs and mediate for a few minutes.

A healthy lunch eaten and that meditation turned into a two and a half hour nap. I still felt tired. The next day, another long nap and still exhausted. When I asked friends why I might be like this (and saying that my blood sugars were in range and I wasn’t sick), the responses ranged from: “Could you be pregnant?” (Nopeity-nope-nope. The Kid will be an only child.) to “Have you checked ketones?” (Which was a smart idea and I didn’t have any.)

energy-1-1176465-640x512Everyone Should Know Rhonda.

And then I met Rhonda Waters. She’s part of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, specializing in energy management. Not the kind of energy that keeps the physical lights on, but rather the energy that keeps the human lights on. During a reception at HealtheVoices16 (which I will share in a separate post as it deserves it!), I was introduced to her and joked: “Where were you yesterday when I needed you?”

I was trying to be funny, saying that I was tired and it wasn’t like me to feel like that. And she didn’t laugh, but rather talked to me about “forced recovery” which is what your body does when it’s void of  the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy everyone needs.

I didn’t just listen. I heard and felt what she was saying. At that moment, I understood that if I kept depleting my energy, I was no good to myself, my family, my friends, and my community. The world will continue to spin without me attempting to direct its course.

At an energy break session on Saturday during HealtheVoices, a small group sat with Rhonda for what was supposed to be a quick 15 minute pick-me-up. An hour later (!), I left with words of wisdom from other advocates and Rhonda. My “ah-ha” for this conference was this:

“What would you say to a friend?”

Thunderbolt. And sadness.

What I would say to someone I cared about and what I had been telling myself were two very different things.

My question to you is this:

How do you know it’s time to stop before you get to “forced recovery” and what do YOU do to take time for yourself?

Right now (well, after this post) I’m reviewing my calendar and putting time in for me. And I’m going to stop removing those times that I had scheduled for me in favor of getting something else “more important” done.

I don’t want to stop. But sometimes, as I’ve learned this weekend, you have to stop before you can go.