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The Importance of Downtime

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I am normally pretty driven. Even when I feel sick or depressed, I get up, put one foot in front of the other, or boogie half awake in the shower, muttering the 'song' Dory sings in Finding Nemo, “Keep on Swimming, keep on swimming....”  There is a part of me that feels ultra responsible for my family, my art, my community, my work, my dog, everything around me. Not that I am important to it all, but just that it is important for me to keep doing as much as I can.

Sometimes, however, it's like the time I was speeding way too fast down a hill on my bike in high school, chasing my friend, and hit gravel when the one road intersected with the other, and my front wheel did a 180, and I went flying over the handlebars and slowly slid to a stop on the tarmac, cleverly using my arms, stomach, face, legs et cetera as landing gear.

Sometimes—and today was one of those days-- I awake spent. The alarm goes off and the days leading up to this moment have sped me up, faster and faster, and now I have hit the gravel, and am shot overholly running the handle bars, and I hope that the day offers grass to land on instead of gravelly road.....but sometimes, like today, the events in the day have as many “things that could not be foreseen and are completely out of your control and are disruptive or destructive” tossed in as possible. It's like being in a Flash-fiction uber-drama, where the sturm und drang needs to happen and be dealt with in under 250 words.


Then it's time to embrace downtime.

Sometimes, I should have been embracing downtime SOONER, slowed the metaphorical bicycle down a bit, and that way I wouldn't be flying over the handlebars at a billion miles an hour, right?

So I am taking this blog to remind us (me) that Inspiration actually means breathing in. The crazy thing is, when I plan a class, I try to have it breathe in and out, flow in and out, like the tide, and when I need us to speed up or slow down, I try to have the workshop flow like increasing or slowing breath.

Somehow, though, in my life I can forget that part, and it takes that feeling of “oh crap, here comes the pavement” to remind me.

holly in DonegalRegardless, here it is, with supporting definitions below. To be inspired, sometimes we need to perspire, by which we respire on our long journey before we expire. And although whenever someone says this to me I want to slap them, Yoko Ono was ultimately right: breathe.

For myself, that means taking time to NOT work. Going for a walk. Reading a book for fun and for a longer duration than one toilet-sitting. Going outside at night and staring quietly at the stars. Having an extra pot of tea.....maybe with cookies.

My wish for you this weekend is a secret stolen moment or twenty, for respiration or perspiration or inspiration. :)

RESPIRE breathe : he lay back, respiring deeply | [ trans. ] a country where fresh air seems impossible to respire. • (of a plant) carry out respiration, esp. at night when photosynthesis has ceased.

• poetic/literary recover hope, courage, or strength after a time of difficulty : the archduke, newly respiring from so long a war.

INSPIRE |inˈspīr| verb [ trans. ] 1 fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative : [ trans. ] his passion for romantic literature inspired him to begin writing | [as adj. ] ( inspiring) so far, the scenery is not very inspiring. See note at encourage .

• create (a feeling, esp. a positive one) in a person : their past record does not inspire confidence. • ( inspire someone with) animate someone with (such a feeling) : he inspired his students with a vision of freedom.

• give rise to : the movie was successful enough to inspire a sequel. 2 breathe in (air); inhale.

PERSPIRE |pərˈspīr| verb [ intrans. ] give out sweat through the pores of the skin as the result of heat, physical exertion, or stress : Will was perspiring heavily. ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from French perspirer, from Latin perspirare, from per- ‘through’ + spirare ‘breathe.’

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