On the Verge of Burn-Out
Heal Your Life Blog
On the Verge of Burn-Out
“A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night.”
— Marilyn vos Savant
Remember the vintage TV cop show, Cagney and Lacey? On one episode called “Burn Out,” the endearing lead character Mary Beth Lacey was having a tough time dealing with a full plate of responsibilities between her family and her job. Sound familiar? As her “to-do” list grew to endless proportions, Mary Beth started snapping at her kids, forgetting little things she needed to do, and doubting her abilities as a mother and a cop.
After being pulled in too many directions by too many people—her partner, her husband Harv, her boss, her kids, her kids’ teachers—Mary Beth just walked out of the station one afternoon and didn’t look back. She ended up on a beach somewhere . . . spending time alone with her thoughts and trying to rediscover herself.
After a few days, Mary Beth finally came back to work. When she tried to explain her absence to Cagney, here’s what she said:
There are days I wake up, the kids are fighting, Harv is complaining because I can’t find two socks that match, the case we’ve been working on is falling apart and I think to myself: “I can’t do it. That’s too much.”
Then, there are days when I wake up, the kids are fighting, Harv is complaining because I can’t find two socks that match, the case we’ve been working on is falling apart and I think to myself: “God, I love my life!”
This scenario reminds me of how we’re under so much pressure sometimes, juggling work and our responsibilities at home, we often question how we’ll ever survive another week. And then, other times, we’re under so much pressure—it just intensifies our “love” for what we do.
In this post, I’d like to pay tribute to all of the unsung heroes, the faces behind the headlines and behind the scenes. The ones who often go unrecognized. You know who you are: those of you who spend long hours of planning, prospecting and researching to sculpt raw ideas into viable projects; those of you who struggle to finish the things that were due yesterday; those of you who nap in your cars or eat at your desks during lunchtime; those of you who are badgered by family and pals wondering “Where have you been lately?”; and those of you who are becoming close friends with the night watchman, security guard or cleaning staff at your offices.
May you find inspiration in Mary Beth’s revelation. May you always know why you do what you do. And if you begin to feel the walls tumbling around you, heed the advice of author and renowned “siren of stress” Loretta LaRoche from her book Relax—You May Only Have A Few Minutes Left, who says: When things get a little rough, you can always visit the wondrous place you used to go to as a kid where time stood still:
Remember when you were a kid and you got into your heavy staring? Your mother would say, “Come back! Where are you, in La-La Land?” By now you’ve probably buried or dismissed this wonderful place that can help us elicit inner peace and harmony. But as children, we daydream often and with great ease. It is because we are so clearly focused on our intent and where we are at any given moment.
If children see a kite, balloon, or bird, they will zero in on it like sonar and track it with complete absorption. As parents, we often scurry after a small child who is following something that has become the object of his interest. It is as if he has become one with his object. This gets harder and harder to do as our minds become more and more cluttered with adult demands.
We all can learn to be spellbound again, to connect to that earlier experience called La-La Land. It is not about writing one more report or finishing one more project but rather about becoming more in touch with the wonder of the universe.
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Stress-management consultant Loretta LaRoche has been dubbed the “Jolly Lama”
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“Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it.”
— Lily Tomlin