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A few years ago a coach of mine told me that, “All work, no play makes Amy no fun”. Ouch.  “What?!  Me? No fun?!” I thought, aghast – “I don’t ever want to be that person.”  (I pictured someone old and boring – two words I never want to be used to describe me.)

At the time of the conversation, I had just taken quite a leap to open my own practice, we had just bought our first home, and our kids were still toddlers – very dependent, and definitely NOT sleeping all night – if my hazy, sleep-deprived memories serve me correctly.

I realized then and there the reality that if I wanted to keep the busy pace of my life, I also had to take some time to relax and reboot.  And so, with the wise coaching of my mentor, I started planning in ways to get a break from the daily routine.  While my rational mind may have resisted “I can’t afford it!”  or “I have too much to get done!”  the deeper part of myself recognized the simple truth he was trying to teach me: I am the best version of ME when I take time to recharge my batteries.  I am happiest, most productive, most innovative, most playful, and most inspired when my tanks have been filled.  Filled with rest, quality time, playfulness, love, adventure, laughter, and connection. Without his guidance, I wonder how many years I may have gone on without valuing my own need to recharge – and could have run the risk of forgetting these things that are so essential to truly LIVING.

What I have come to realize is that it doesn’t take a lot for me to recharge.  What I need is to have a brief time in which I am completely removed from my daily routine – not because I want to escape anything in my life (as a matter of fact, I think my life is pretty awesome) – but rather because how it helps me bring my ‘best game’ to my daily life.  I revel in the freedom of having less responsibility – at least, temporarily.  (Let’s be realistic, here…) Let me be anywhere, for any amount of time with the following factors present, and my tanks will automatically start to fill:

Let me be responsible for nothing more than the safety, full bellies and appropriate protection from the elements for myself and my family.

Let me be surrounded by beauty and nature.

Let me eat good food – and have absolutely NO ROLE in the planning, preparation or clean up (unless I choose to).

Let me have no set schedule unless we have a special planned activity we want to do.

Let me sleep when I want, read when I want, and play when I want.

Let me feel fully present and in-the-moment, full of gratitude for the people I am with.

And let me create happy, loving memories to fill me up continuously after it is all over.

When all of these criteria are present, it does not matter if my “vacation” lasts 24 hours or 2 weeks, costs pennies or thousands of dollars, takes place an hour from our home, or a plane ride away.

(For the record, I can’t find all of these things in my own back yard, as my to-do list doesn’t seem to leave me while I am in my own home, and the sense of responsibility won’t leave me until I drive – or fly – away) 

And as a side note – I also plan time when I recharge my batteries without anyone else to be responsible for.  This could be getting a pedicure, a day shopping, a trip home to Halifax, or a weekend away with girlfriends.  And Dean and I plan time away without our kids (so far we’ve gone to Cuba, and on a cruise – but more often plan the occasional night way at a B&B, or a concert (going to see Dave Matthews in concert is an annual event for us).  Combining these mini-vacations with our planned family ones truly makes me feel like my life and play time is well rounded and full.  Time for me, my marriage, and my family = completion.

What matters is that I always remember my highest values: family, freedom, and experiencing.  For me it’s all about living life to the fullest.

What matters is that I have come to value my own time to recharge – I feel more myself, more at ease, more grateful for my life, the people in it, and the memories I will be left with.

What matters is that I know that I deserve my time to recharge – that it helps me be a better me, a better mom, wife, and chiropractor and ultimately a better human being.

In the effort to consciously create our lives from a place of integrity, walking our talk, and being role models for our children (and in my case, my practice) – I have to agree with my wise coach.  All work and no play just doesn’t work for me.

One of the deepest drives that exists is to want to make a difference in the world.    I want to make a massive difference in people’s lives –  starting with me and my family, and rippling outwards to impact everyone I come in contact with.  And quite simply, I don’t know how to do that unless I take care of myself, helping others live their lives to the fullest – first by doing so myself.

At the end of my life I picture myself being able to look anyone in the eye and state with absolute certainty that I lived, I laughed, I played.  I made a difference.

And THAT has made all the difference.

(much better than old and boring, wouldn’t you agree?!)