Monday, October 22, 2007

The Feather or The Hammer

When I was in massage school, our Sports Massage teacher told us the tale of The Feather or The Hammer. It's a cautionary tale. It basically says if your body is trying to tell you something, you should listen.
The body generally knows what it needs. If you are overworking or stressing out, the body is going to get fatigued and you may feel a bit clumsy. These are signs your body is sending your way telling you that you need to slow down and take a break. That's the feather. If you don't listen and keep on pushing yourself too hard.... you get the hammer. The hammer can come in the form of a heart attack, a car accident (clumsiness accelerated), the flu.... you get the idea. At that point your body HAS to stop and slow down and take it easy.
When I used to work at the spa, at least once a week, I'd get some over-achiever, type A executive (or stay-at-home mom, or chef or whatever). With executive types, I'd always wonder to myself, "What's it all for really?" These people work 60+ hours a week, travel away from home all the time and for what? "For money", is a popular answer. Money for what? To have a better life? A bigger house? To be able to buy things and travel to exotic places? To have better, bigger things for their family? Great retirement?
OK. Let's look at that. Better life - too busy and never around to enjoy it. Bigger house - too busy and never around to enjoy it. Buy things and travel - how many things do you need [she says with a basement full of yarn] and the only travelling they do is for their high-stress job. Bigger, better things for their family - yea, pretty sure the family would rather have the person around then the things they buy.
Great retirement - the other problem with this is that these people spend 20+ years (usually more like 30 years) in GO mode. When it comes time to retire (if they live that long), they can't stop. They've been going constantly for so long, they have no idea how to shut off. This is also where the increasing older couple divorce rate happens - the CEO is suddenly home. All. The. Time. They don't know how to relax so they either try to boss their spouse around or they are constantly in their spouses space (which, by this time the spouse is used to and wants to keep) needing something to do. "What can I do? What should I do? What are you doing? Entertain me," is SO not attractive!
As to the Stay-At-Home people - take a break. Most over-achievers in this arena rarely take the time for themselves. And that includes taking care of themselves. They are constantly on the go (creating On The Go kids for the next generation of stress-monkeys) and they forget to eat or relax or... breathe. They need to remember that if they get sick (the hammer) then they are no good to anyone. Especially themselves. Also, if they do everything for everyone, how can the birds leave the nest? These little fledglings will never learn to do for themselves and will keep coming home and then SAH overachievers have to clean up messes all their lives (which is maybe the point with some?). Well, that's actually a rant for another day...
As knitters (and yes, I have been knitting - I'll show y'all some, someday!), we tend to take lots of time for ourselves - even while we are working or taking care of our families. The feather and the hammer doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with us. Feather and Fan - now that's something else!
But take a look at your daily dealings. See if you are taking the time you need to rest and be well and happy.
Like this....
Otherwise, you may just wipe out while doing your favorite activities. Like this...
Remembering to breathe, Ruth!


Romi said...

This is such a great reminder! When I get stressed about things, I often sit back and take a look at my kids and my husband. It really puts things into perspective! :)

Be well!

sophanne said...

yes, yes. Very nice post. Feather or Hammer- I think the feathers are starting to hammer me. Clumsy is something to take note of and the part of your remembering to breathe that I'm not mindful of. Thanks!

Yarnhog said...

Great message. My husband and I have deliberately made choices that allow us to spend lots of time at home and enjoy our family. The funny thing is, this has actually led to greater financial success than we would ever have had in the rat race, and we both work at home and control our own schedules.