*Originally written in October 2021
I enjoy bonfires. I am always mesmerized by the movement of the flames. There is a meditative power and energy, but also a sense of calm. A fire starts intense and roaring. As the wood burns, the fire soon becomes a collection of burning embers. If you fail to add more wood, or deprive it of oxygen, that fire burns out.
Over the past few years, I was living life in the embers. Until the inevitable - my fire went out.
I woke up dreading work. I dreaded seeing friends. Even on a calm and energizing day, every task was a challenge, every interaction was forced, and often followed by a moment of tears is solitude. Because I was in such a vulnerable emotional, mental and physical state, I felt like an imposter - lying in every “how are you” response and smiling even when I had a lump in my throat. At the end of the day, my energy, my spirit were drained.
It was time for a pause.
It was a struggle to make the decision to step away from work. So much of who I thought I was, was in my career accomplishments. When you meet someone, they typically ask, “so what do you do?” instead of “what makes you happy". I was living in this mindset that the busier I was, the better I was.
I was wrong. It was time to rediscover Amanda.
My mind, body and heart made this very clear. I needed to remind myself who I was outside of my accomplishments. It was time to embrace a life that was marked by simplicity, freedom, and cancelled plans.
So I took a wellness leave from work. No one talked about it all that much, although I wish they did. Not for my sake - what other people think of me really truly does not matter to me, (this is a new thing for me) - but because I know I am not the only one living in the embers of the fire, ready to burn out or already in the process.
So what happened while I was “off” ?