inthefield coaching + yoga

Happy Burnout Anniversary

February 13, 2023

A short story of my un-doing

Have you ever woken up suddenly one day wondering, what on earth am i doing here?

That was me about this time last year.

i don’t think i’d ever been so sick. Most mornings i would wake up in a flurried panic, on very little sleep, hot-flashing with a deadline approaching, wanting to vomit, and my eyes blurred dry from the umpteenth Zoom call and the jagging tears just barely held in check… like my breath. Stuck in my chest. Just holding on.

I. Just. Can’t.

Two years into a global pandemic, under the pressures of a promotion and new leadership at work. They were calling it the Great Reset, the Great Resignation, the Great __[fill in your blank here]__ … but for me it was a Great Reckoning.

The pandemic was just the excuse for the work that needed to be done.

If i’m being honest, my existential questioning started way, way back in the Before Times. But i wasn’t heeding the call. Instead, i was stepping up the career ladder, upskilling, making Five Year Plans (and lots of sourdough), contributing to my RRSP, working hard and fast, keeping house, keeping up appearances, cooking dinner, dreaming of escape (or just binge-watching Netflix), going on weekend yoga retreats to recoup, only to return to doing and doing and doing. Throw in perimenopause, and yeah, it sure takes the cake —and i sure did eat a lot of it!

i realized there was a massive disconnect between what i felt was possible and what i was actually doing in my life.

So when i was on the edge of burnout again, trying to get on the right antidepressant, trying to sleep, and trying to impress the new boss by not totally fucking up, i did. And i was called out. Not just by my boss, but by something even bigger than my body. It said, no more. STOP. And i listened and i did.

Since then i have been working to undo some of the damage, to unravel the why i needed all this doing in the first place, to redefine what it means to work, to do good, to find a way to do what needs to be done, but differently.

In the Bhagavad Gita, it’s called Karma Yoga; in the Tao, Wu Wei. Our Indigenous wisdom teachers might call it living in a good way.

From this vantage point—a year after quitting my job and starting my own business—it doesn’t seem that much has changed in the world. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse are still at it: The war rages in Ukraine. Tens of thousands are dying under the rubble of tectonic shifts. Inflation and rising food costs push millions more into poverty. The tentacles of the Kraken continue to squeeze our systems of care to the breaking point.

But something significant has changed inside.

My work, it has become a practice of un-doing: of realigning my path with the inner nature of things, without all that excess effort of toxic doing.

It has meant taking more care, feeling into discomfort, leaning into the big dreams, unpacking expectations, and questioning the inner saboteur who tries to keep life small in the space of the “should”.

i feel it as a journey into the field of possibility.

It is also as a hope for the world, that it too may practice some necessary undoing and find a good way forward.

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