Friday, August 08, 2014

Season of Rest


I've had an increasing sense during this year that now is a season of rest for me:  mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  After years -- a full decade, actually -- of super-human self-expectations and unsustainable activity levels, I'm coming to a better understanding of what rest really means.  In order to get to this point, I had to rewrite the internal script that told me I'm only worth as much as I can accomplish.  I still haven't figured out how I developed that philosophy, but it doesn't really matter; what matters is that it's been replaced with a healthier script, one fueled by a sense of identity rooted in the truth that I am valuable because of who I am, not because of what I've done. As are you.

With that re-scripting has come a wonderful release, a longed-for freedom to just enjoy and not produce.  Of course I still work.  But with limits.  Healthy limits that allow for ensure renewal and rejuvenation at the end of each day.  Everywhere I turn, people and events keep reminding me that this is the time to reap the rewards of my hard work and truly enjoy them.  For once, I have not argued.  The results are worth sharing.


This week I was invited on a nice cruise to Stockholm; soaked in the sun during Finland's hottest weather in over 50 years; sustained a fruity diet of mostly popsicles; and spent warm evenings on giant smooth rocks, looking out over the 10 pm sunsets with one of my best friends ever, deep in conversation about faith, inspiration, career decisions, and the great journey of life. 

The Baltic Sea has been reported as warm as 24 C / 75 F.   This little lake has become a large jacuzzi.






Sunset walks are the best time for conversations with God.
Wrapping up a day at the Helsinki seaside, an introduction to Finland for a Russian friend's parents visiting from St. Petersburg.




The type of rest I'm experiencing is the mindset that lets you go with the flow, embrace spontaneity, make few enough commitments that you don't need a datebook to remember them.  It's a rest that lets you dive deeper and deeper into a good discussion without worrying how late it's getting.  It lets you put people above appointments.  It lets you dance in a field of fog in the middle of the night and nap during the day when you need a recharge.  It gives you an hour or two to yourself each day, to do whatever you feel like or even to do nothing at all.


Sailing through the archipelago off the southeast coast of Sweden



A few weeks ago I traveled to Switzerland.  During the short weekend I explored a beautiful university campus, visited a good friend living there, got a brief tour of the CERN nuclear science research center, explored a museum of modern art, and spent a day with some lively Argentinians.  I got to see Geneva, Lausanne, and Bern.  




In June, I received a grant from Aalto University to attend and present my research at Babson Entrepreneurial Research Conference in Ontario, Canada.  It was truly an honor to have my work accepted to this prestigious conference, especially so early on in my career, and I couldn't have imagined beforehand how being there would change my career prospects.  Though a bit nerve-wracking to present in front of people with so much more experience, I held true to the promise I made to myself that I would really enjoy the trip and everything there was to learn and experience at the conference.  A big reward of being there was the opportunity to meet up with my bachelor thesis advisor at Belmont, Mark Schenkel, and celebrate our successful research project. 



On the way back from Canada to Finland, I stopped over in Ireland and spent three days exploring Dublin and a little seaside town on the outskirts of the city, where my couchsurfing host lives.  I was so blessed to meet a brilliant, adventurous American girl on her own round-the-world trip; we were staying with the same host and so had lots of time to chat while making all sorts of memories.

Looking for fish 'n chips with Hannah in Howth, Ireland



Seasons are different each time they come around.  This autumn won't be exactly like the last autumn.  Some autumns are quite warm, with Indian Summer days into October.  Other autumns, the first snow flurries will cover the cold ground even before November.  This season of rest feels moderate - after all, even now at its height I'm still working a few days per week - but it has the air of a long, moderate restful season, one that will extend well into next summer and even next autumn.  At the same time, I'm pretty sure it won't last forever, and I'm reminded each day to treasure the restful moments in this hour. 

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