How Hard is it for You to Take a Break?

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. Chinese Proverb


I had been looking forward to the trip for more than a year. These last many months, when life felt too stressful or full, I would close my eyes and envision beautiful morning hikes, vast vistas, smoothies by the pool and downtime with my mom in sunny Mexico.

Years ago, when I turned 40, my sweet mother took me to beautiful Rancho La Puerta for a week away to relax, get healthy and refill my tanks. On that trip I realized that taking time away from my many responsibilities could actually stimulate progress in all areas of my life. Fast forward to late May, when I was about to return with my mom for a full week in that magical place that had changed me forever.

The morning of my departure, my husband woke up and couldn’t move his neck. It was so bad that he could barely get out of bed. Worry #1. I could feel my anxiety grow just as my mom arrived to take the two of us to the airport.

During the whole plane ride, all I could think about was my husband’s pain and the many possible disaster scenarios that could befall my family. Would Kurt remember all the pick-ups, drop off's, baseball practices and games? Would the hamster die of starvation? What if our cat, Fluffy, got more burrs in his fur? Would the mail pile up? And would my business need tending to each day? As you can imagine, these hypothetical hiccups had me paralyzed with worry. My mom kept asking me what was wrong and urged me to relax and enjoy – we were on vacation!

She was absolutely right. What was wrong with me? I had one week to enjoy myself and be present but all I could feel was a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I could feel how attached I was to my illusions of control.
This continued for three solid days. Finally, on Tuesday, I had a come to Jesus moment when my husband scolded me to stop texting, stop planning for the boys and get in the moment. I went for a walk in the labyrinth pictured below and the obvious truth surfaced within minutes.

I thought if I wasn’t taking care of things, everything would crumble.
I truly believed that loosening my grip – even from hundreds of miles away – would wreak havoc on everything in my life. 

The honest truth was, my inability to let go and trust was harming not only me, but my beloved family as well. 

My husband did not feel trusted and my mom was wondering where the heck I was half the time because I was so distracted with worry. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I did a Watsu session. Imagine a massage in a 98° pool for an hour. Your body is able to totally relax and be held by the water. In one pose, I was in fetal position being held like a baby. I could feel tears streaming down my face and for the first time all week, I let go in the arms of someone else and heard a strong voice.

It said, “the more you let go, Johanna, the more powerful your presence and impact will be on everything around you.”

And suddenly I realized, I was in Mexico!
I could have cried for hours, but I pulled it together. I then proceeded to take a two-hour nap. When I awoke, my mind, body and soul felt rejuvenated and clear. The rest of my trip was gorgeous and relaxing. But the best part was receiving that message. (Oh, and a chocolate chip cookie on the last night!)

So my questions to you all are…
When, if ever, do you totally let go? 
What beliefs hold you back from doing so? 
How can you practice letting go, even when faced with the responsibilities of daily life?
What could unfold if you let go of control more? 

When I got home, happily, everyone had survived. Even my younger son Gus, who got slammed in the head with a baseball, was in good spirits! Stripy the hamster was alive and well, Fluffy was fat and happy as ever and all my boys – Kurt included -- were happy and grateful to see me. My world didn't crumble, in fact it had thrived.

Johanna Beyer

Johanna Beyer is the founder and principal of On Your Path Consulting. Since 2002 she has been working one on one with people who feel that they are at a crossroads in life. She specializes in supporting individuals who feel unfulfilled with their current careers and are ready to create their next stage of work that is challenging and purposeful.