Shutdown, breakdown or hoedown?

You know the type of life lesson you have to learn over and over again to really make it stick? Last summer, I (Leslie) think I might have learned one for good. I want to explain why the Branches shut down for two weeks at the start of August, but I’d like to tell you a story first.



In June 2021, I had what people used to call a nervous breakdown. Mysterious pain with no other symptoms had me sleepless and writhing on the floor for three days straight. Telehealth sent me to the ER, where lots of tests revealed nothing. But deep down, I knew what was going on.

Daily life had ground down into a reduction of work and basic physical maintenance. At the time, Ontario was still in a version of lockdown that disconnected me from my Yoga and climbing communities. It didn’t help that I was three of what would become ten weeks of having to live out of a suitcase in four different homes. On the surface I’d been keeping it together quite well, but my body had kept score of the stress.

It’s obvious now that I was lacking any joy or true rest. Those three solid days of suffering were a clear mandate to pause and find something to make me smile. I barely got myself to do that, starting with simple pleasures: fancy butter on fresh bread and a swim at the local pool. Help from friends boosted me up, and I came back to life by the end of summer, capped off with a dance party in a field.

The lesson? A human being cannot be sustained on an all hustle, no play diet.

Much difficulty can be endured with the right amount of joy or meaning to balance or enrich it. Epic feats of work can be achieved if there is ample rest to recharge.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Duh, Leslie,” then I sincerely congratulate you on your wisdom, or, urge you to recognize the privilege of never having burned out. If you’re thinking that this is a lesson you too may struggle to learn, let’s remind each other to keep fighting for rest and play, for ourselves, and for everyone.

So, to live a little bit of life for the sheer joy of it, The Branches was shut down for the first two weeks of August. It’s a bold move we’ve admired other small businesses making (Golden Hearth, we’re looking at you), and a small boundary meant to protect our spirits.

Many of us visited family out-of-province, spent more time with the kids, read books, took naps. Shutting down also gave us an opportunity to touch up the studio: we wrapped up a few indoor renovation projects, got the new front garden well established, and did some deep cleaning.

We wish you the rest and joy you need this summer, and now that we’re open again we’re excited to see you!

With warmth,
Leslie

P.P.S. Taking a break is a privilege not everyone in our society can enjoy. If you’re able, please give generously to a community organization that supports housing and food as human rights so that all people may have a chance at dignity and wellbeing. Tiny Home TakeOut / A Better Tent City / 97 Victoria 

1 Comment

  1. kim says:

    I had a wise friend who, no matter what dire or stressful circumstances life threw at her, knew how to infuse some serious fun into most days and certainly every week. When I commented once on how I noticed and also envied that she could set aside stress or temporary put it on the shelf to have a good time doing something ( compartamentalizing can be challenging!) even though she might have been dealing with downer situations, she said to me, “yes Kimmy, fun is so very necessary.”
    I have never forgotten it even though I still find it a challenge to implement but I use it as a reminder. Our society encourages busy-ness so you are in good company. Thanks for sharing the reminder again!

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