If you’ve read my newsletters or emails in the past year, you know I sign most “With joy and ease, Debra”.  When I write “with joy and ease”, am I trying to convey to you that I’m constantly joyous and everything in my life is a cinch?  (In other words, am I LYING?) Certainly not.

With this signature I intend to remind you and myself to choose the path toward fulfilling purpose that feels joyous and easy.  In the flow.  Right for us.  But not everything that feels this way also feels effortless.

In fact, over the year since I’ve refocused connect2 Corporation to guide women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, I’ve frequently felt I’ve been powering through. Even though I’ve known I’ve been living the path that’s right for me – doing the professional work I’m meant to be doing plus taking care of my children, my home and myself – many times I’ve allowed the volume to get blaringly high.  I’ve been doing the right things but way too many of them at once!  Why?  Because I’ve been afraid.  Afraid that if I slow down, my children will suffer.  Or my business will suffer.  Or my divorce process will slow down further.  Or more.  Or worse.

So as much as I’ve been practicing living in connection with Spirit, I’ve also been burning out my power supply.  Pretty consciously.  Not willing to see a better way because I was convinced I was right: I was alone, solely responsible.  And apparently, because I was fearful of upsetting anyone  – especially my clients or loved ones – I clung to these beliefs.

But about a month ago my motor burned out.  (Please forgive my metaphors if they don’t make mechanical sense.)  I’d been gearing up for my divorce trial, scheduled for June 28 and 29.  Expecting it to be physically and emotionally exhausting, I conserved my energy.  I chose not to attend a bar mitzvah or a dear friend’s wedding – both out of town – to keep focused.  I swallowed my pride and faced my fears to ask for help.  (And gratefully received it!) I did my level best to prepare, to make sound and rational choices.  Of course, my days were still overly full.  And I noticed things kept going wrong.  They were not working out with ease. I felt out of the flow. I sensed I was in power struggle. But I kept trying. And then, less than two weeks before the trial was scheduled to start, I heard it was likely to be postponed for at least six months.  The adrenaline I’d been living off plummeted.  And I crashed hard.

First, I cried. (For me, this is always an accomplishment.) Then I felt too drained to move. To see clients.  To return phone calls, even personal ones.  To write.  I was fried.  I assumed this was all merely emotional, as postponement of the trial (and therefore its ultimate resolution) was deeply disappointing and frustrating to me.  Turns out I also had strep throat.  And then a sinus infection.  All I could do, for many, many days, was rest.  I humbly postponed client meetings. I took a break from typical marketing activities.  I cancelled work outs. I stopped cooking.  I knew I’d reached my limit.

Reaching my limit was a miracle. (My favorite definition of “miracle” is from A Course in Miracles: “a shift in perception.”)  I finally shifted my perception of myself to someone  allowed to stop.  Someone for whom it is safe to stop.  Someone who can stop constantly moving, tend only to her needs, and survive it.  Just for a while.

The kids understood.  My friends understood.  My clients were very kind about it.  Dear people made time to bring me food and do a few loads of our laundry.  And I healed.

A Course in Miracles also says “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.” My miracle is that I finally loved myself enough to stop taking care of everything else and start nurturing only me.  Naps.  Bravo TV.  Lots of books.  Soothing music.  Quiet time.  Meditation.  A few lovely days on Cape Cod in a pretty inn all by myself.

My fear that if I stopped, everything would crash down around me — was False Evidence Appearing Real.  Stopping was absolutely necessary.  Ultimately rejuvenating.  And I found energy and support to clear my ex’s possessions out my home.  And to clear out everything the kids had outgrown.  Then I read and napped some more.  The days were a blur of alternating activity and rest – all off my usual beaten path.

From this whole experience I remembered I am loved, by my parents, friends, Spirit, myself, and people I didn’t even know had been thinking of me. After more than two weeks away from business I concluded that I need to schedule regular, true downtime for myself – maybe even take 2 weeks away from work 2-3 times per year.  Radical.  Easy. Lovely.  Loving.

When was the last time you stopped?