Standing on the edge of the community pond. Burned out at being a professional caregiver and educator for the past 20 years. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had already been scaling back my practice. I slowly reached down my side and grabbed my pager and threw it into the water. Within the next few weeks, what remaining clients I had, I successfully was able to place them with another counsellor. Oh my God. I was free.
I spent 2 decades working as a crisis counsellor for a non-profit organization. In addition to that, I had a thriving practice and was teaching 15 classes online. My typical day lasted about 18 hours of non-stop work. Throw in continuous education and trying to have a social life, I was burnt out. I had more than enough money and plenty of real estate, it was time to walk away.
When was the last time you took inventory of your life and decided it was time to have fun? Long story short, over the next couple of years the perfect storm happened. Not just once, but twice. We lost everything. Well, almost everything. We didn’t lose hope. And we certainly did not lose the concept of self-care. In fact, when we had all those resources, it seemed as though we were cluttered and unfocused. Now, life is simplified.
My practice is growing and I’m making the bills. The difference is the mindset. The goal is peace and joy. My wife and I live on the east coast in a vacation town. We live minutes from the water. And within 20 minutes to 2 hours, we are in driving distance to 13 vacation spots. Life is simplified now and there is not much I would change.
As we focus on the future, work and commitments, so many of us have lost our way. Some so much so, that they start engaging in high-risk behaviours. They damage their relationships and lose their identity. So I ask, when is the last time you just had fun? You put the phone down or had a computer free day. You invested time in your children, or simply went for a walk.
When is the last time you stayed out too late just looking at the stars? Kidnapping your wife or husband for a quick getaway. When did we start taking life so serious that we forgot to make time to laugh? (I’ve held many terminal patients and their sense of humour transcended pain and prognosis.) Why did we start feeling guilty for just saying no? When was the last time that you went out and didn’t really care what you looked like?
When? Life is full of when. In 33 years of working in mental health, I’ve learned this one simple truth. Forget when. The time is now. The time to laugh is now. Go outside now. Spend uninterrupted time with your spouse and family now. Forget about those bills and responsibilities now. Keep your life in perspective. Be responsible, but be not a slave to responsibility. Because if you don’t. You may just one day find yourself standing on a beach somewhere and throwing your phone into the ocean.