Lesson #7 – Cultivating play and rest – letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth

Inspired by the Gift of Imperfections.

These are my reflections on this chapter and moments of inspiration. Dr Brené Brown speaks on a subject that I have had to learn and I continue to learn … I must be the first one to admit that play and rest are lifelong skills that one must acquire on each and every season of life ….

I read this chapter over and over again because I wanted to clearly see the tapestry of how I got here … and help give words to a vast majority of experiences that I never was able to describe before . ….

I was curious to understand how I define rest and play as a critical part of wholehearted living in my own personal life

Dr Brené writes this truth “ in this culture where net worth takes priority over self worth and where our worthiness is based on productivity “ spending time doing purposeless things may even cause stress . We say we have so much to do and little time and we rush through our to do list . We also look down upon giving our bodies enough time to sleep and rest because we are rushing for the next project

These words are a mouthful

I have had to walk a journey where I reconsider what brings joy and meaning to my life. In fact , I think I do this almost every season of my life . I have had to read the book by Clayton M titled “ How to measure your life” in order to help me contextualize what matters most to me versus what the world says and I also watched David Brooks interview and I paused when he said “ I valued time over people” and he continued to say “ I had midweek friends and those he described as colleagues but he had no weekend friends “ and those are genuine long lasting friendships !!!

For almost all my life I valued hard work , being busy and almost never giving myself time to rest. I too valued time …. As a Christian even a mere meditation time and prayer time are moments of rejuvenation but never rest. And so I led my life jam packed with activities , people to serve , stuff to do , but nothing on purpose less time . In fact if anyone ever told me about “ planning to do nothing “ time , I probably would have considered that person as less ambitious 🤷🏿‍♀️

Throughout this I acquired some great accolades at my job but with it came workaholism and productivity as a yardstick to measure my self worth

This chapter enabled me to define my 2015 personal experience to which I will never forget for as long as I shall live. I started a job as a Financial Manager in a Public Entity and I was reporting to a Chief Financial Officer who later resigned. I assumed the responsibilities unofficially and would later apply for the position. Even though I applied and stood good chances due to a great company policy, I just couldn’t help but be in conflict about the quality of life that I desired versus the responsibilities of a new job and not to mention I was pregnant with our second born.

For as long as I can remember I have always declared that I know I was meant to do something on this earth and I have always said I want to be a successful woman who is equally successful in her marriage . A happy marriage is something of value that holds true meaning and joy for my life and I just couldn’t see how the timing of it all could work together for my good …..

My career life up to this point in 2015 was making me feel that what I want versus my actions and commitment were not yielding my truest desires and I knew that I was always willing to let go of one or reduce something on the other in order to achieve the one …

This made me realize , that I was not on track . I was giving the best of my time and the best version of myself to my work and leaving my family to receive what’s left over of me . Basically I was giving the whole freshly baked bread to my employer but giving my family scrambles falling off the table …. and just the idea on the quality of this life did not sit well with me …

My actions and commitment were a complete opposite of someone working towards the goals and dreams I desired in my marriage …

And so in this case in 2015, I walked up to my CEOs office and I withdrew my application and let go of the CFO position in order to bring about and invest in meaningful service and experience with my family. I think even in 2015 I truly understood that exhaustion as a status symbol of hard work, sleep deprivation and productivity are not a badge of honor for me. …. or at least at that moment 🙏or not anymore !

Now there were many other factors linked to this decision which I will write more about but on this chapter this is where I want to draw my lesson.

Aspirations, ambitions , goals and dreams all have a price to pay. It became crystal clear to me that I will not be happy to stand in a podium of some form of success and achievements without my family around me and so I made a choice. I chose my husband and my children and few months down the line as I sat on my couch watching Robin Roberts on the Master Class , gosh I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that I had made one of the best decisions in my entire life ….

This wa just not the time nor the position for me .

It was from this day that I started owning my voice. I discussed with my husband about how I wanted to show up more for my family and that it was more about the quality of our life rather than the quantity of stuff we owned

As they say “ I wanted stories to tell and not stuff to show “

In simple terms , the CFO post came with a seven digits salary and I was putting that aside for the quality of life that matters most to me.

Already as an FM my life was not inspiring to me and I looked at it and wondered if this was it. Consistent late nights, weekends at work and just the never resting state of mind

So one of the things I started to do at work was being vocal about the work structure and the reduction of additional hours required in order to produce work. Up until that moment I was doing a sixty hours shift per week , which translated to working 10 hours a day and 5 hours on weekends. I had my laptop at home daily and every night something needed to be done .

I also realized that there is a difference with being driven, overcommitted , trying to impress , and a flat out flawed company structure which sets you up for failure.

I also stopped the narrative of being black,being woman ,being previously disadvantaged and being forced to gratitude even under abusive circumstances ( another topic for another day)… that line “ be happy you got a job” your fellow brothers are starving out there …

Anyway, so I was always trying to finish something only to end up with other overdue items at the end of it all. No amount of planning , delegation , training and retraining and prioritizing was helping me…

The more vocal I became about workflow and structure and proposed solutions to management the more I gave myself credit and stopped trying to burn myself out in order gain self worth. Extremely difficult for my personality because I love owning my stuff not to mention excellence

This yielded positive results for me in a sense that my hours reduced drastically , work got done and what couldn’t be done no longer defined my self worth. Most importantly I reduced overtime ( all unpaid) to eventually a few weeks of hours spent at work which was still an issue for me. I am very proud to say between Jan – Jul 2019 I have worked less than 30 hours in the entire six months , outside my employment contract and I am ecstatic about this !!!! On top of it all , all hours I worked for I got paid for them and this is a new environment where my disease to please and prove my worth would have been naturally higher 🙏 but I won and I GREW up. I have taken my laptop home less than five times even during audit time and I no longer feel the need to prove my worth


Talk about growing into knowing myself worth and not producing for recognition !!!!

Dr Brené says we are a nation of overstressed adults raising over-scheduled children. And this is true for us also. We have this drive to succeed and achieve and with good intentions of exceeding what our parents were deprived of achieving …. we are black and in South Africa and it seems just like the only thing to do

However on our way there , we make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes cost us what we thought was important and may even put a shadow of doubt about our level of ambition when compared to others …. a temptation I have written about on my blogs and we all know it’s a step towards a wrong direction …

I have truly learned that , with time , all that we desire materially and all , we shall have. The only thing we will not be able to acquire , is the time when our babies crawl , taking the first steps , giving the kids a bath, hearing them laugh uncontrollably and all the joys of the day to day experiences of sharing life together….

It has been ten years since I met my husband and it is so unbelievable that our babies are five and three years old. And for the past ten years I am glad that I was able to show up the way that I did …. there was a point in life when I realized that the hole of work and productivity doesn’t get full … so I asked myself … what is the one thing that I can do to show up for my family … one area where I can be consistent in it , serve them and it must be an area where I can also grow and be challenged ???

And so cultivating rest and play for me has been learning to show up by COOKING, I used to come home stressed out from work but since that decision time I come home and I ask myself … am I giving my family the best of me or am I sharing the left overs ? I have been cooking at least five times a week for the past ten years and my goodness I am glad…

I cooked through the bad days and the good days …. and I remember thinking … what good does it do me to come home sit and moan … what happens thereafter ?

My cooking graph has had a life of its own but I have built so much resilience for life and it’s challenges just by challenging myself to do this one thing , daily , and do it very well . I have grown with resilience and just keeping my word , I also managed to feed my family and create amazing memories whilst doing so …

This area , is for me how I have truly cultivated resting place for my mind . As soon as I step in the kitchen I can feel my brain decluttering all that was bothering me , I can feel hope and the lightness of Gods goodness entering me…

My brain alone was a ticking time bomb with stress and anxiety from work related matters and it all needed to change

The amazing moments I get to share with my kids , baking muffins and cutting cookies …. this here is amongst my happiest places on earth and I wouldn’t trade them for nothing !!!

So if anyone asked me what do I do for joy and to rest my mind …. my answer is … I cook and serve my family !!! This is what brings me meaning and joy right now !! I join my children on a trampoline and I show up to sit and watch them ride their scooters around the yard

I do all this because I know this , as I rise , I want all of me and this means my husband and my children to rise with me !!!

“ a word of gratitude to my husband , who is an excellent example of what resting resembles and for allowing me to get to this lesson by myself “ thank you for seeing the fire and flame in my eyes and encouraging me to go for it and thank you for supporting me still when I choose to be me and still and be 🙏

I am grateful


Ask yourself this question….

“ When things are going well in my life , what does it look like “?

  • Meaningful conversations with hubby – date nights
  • A sense of connectedness
  • Giggles with the girls and crazy moments in the passage
  • Cuddle time with the puppies
  • Trampoline time – spontaneous unscheduled
  • Spontaneous visits to a play area
  • Exploring a new series with hubby
  • Bath time with the girls

Dr Brené encourages me to look at what my dream looks like versus what brings meaning and joy to my life. It’s a fact , what makes me happy does not require me to spend more money and the dream is about what’s next and mostly requires money

I do believe that the starting point to it all is also gratitude . The point is be joyous and give yourself a break now ! Take time to say thank you , yes you are working on that big break but don’t defer joy and rest !

Don’t defer your happiness . Don’t be that person who says I will be happy the day I have a car or the day I have a dinner table or the day I drive that car or the day I have the house . This mindset is a great joy stealer , avoid it at all cost !

Look at the little things that are present right now in your life . For me it is my family and I am committed to show up and be joyous in the little things and moments with them !

I quit exhaustion as a status symbol 🙏🙏🙏 I also refuse to pursue that dream at a cost of my family

Life is challenging and even more so when you are working mom with big dreams . I believe that the wisdom of knowing what time it is in your life is critical to answering what you commit yourself to and how you should go about

For me I am committed to cooking and it means for the past many years I don’t watch tv during the week and that is fine . It means I don’t necessarily read books to my kids daily and that is fine

Building a family will always have competing demands … I just decided to choose one thing that I can be consistent with !!!

What’s your thing ? How are you resting and being joyous and showing up for in your life ?

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