I struggle with balancing my external life with my internal life. I love planning events, activities, and get-togethers. I’m well known for intense itineraries that start at sunrise and go well past sunset. I love laughing, storytelling, dancing, adventuring, camping, traveling, and living life in big, bold, colorful strokes.
This often results in months of consecutive weekends full of activities. It also means sacrificing a rich internal life to meet the obligations of my external life. It means I go to happy hour or drive to the cities instead of spending time reading or hiking with Drew. It means I trade off an orderly closet for a chaotic space with suitcases never fully empty between weekend excursions. It means that I don’t prioritize my own fitness and wellness. Inevitably, it leaves me exhausted, drained, and deflated.
This is a cycle I’ve self-perpetuated since I can remember. I’ve always been a busy body.
Once, an acquaintance gave me what she thought was a compliment by saying, “Amanda, you are always flying around like a big ball of mess but somehow still get everything done.”
I was really hurt by that comment. After all, no one really wants to be perceived as a “big ball of mess.” The truth is, that description can be pretty accurate.
I do fly around a million miles an hour.
I do overextend myself.
I do believe in being generous of spirit, but at what cost?
At the last retreat, we were… busy. I logged around 30K steps per day, practiced yoga several hours per day, rose to see the sunrise, and hauled paddleboards 4+ miles. On Saturday, I was walking back from Raven Lake with Bryana and said, “I don’t think I can do this. I’m too tired.” Months of running around all hit me at once.
By Saturday night, I reached a level of exhaustion that I haven’t felt for a long time. The same level of exhaustion I’ve felt after coming home from a funeral, after completing a long race, or after a 10+ mile hike. In the depths of exhaustion, I see things with new perspective.
On Sunday, I drove home from the retreat totally exhausted but also fulfilled and satisfied, I had an overwhelming sense of calm and clarity.
I hardly spoke for a nearly a full 24 hours. I simply allowed myself to rest and reflect silently. In that silence, I realized the toll my extroversion can take on both me and on my introverted husband. I made a commitment to work on my personal wellness this fall. That has meant learning to say no, setting boundaries for myself, asking others for help, letting go of control and allowing others to assume responsibility, setting aside time to do nothing, stopping myself from planning things when an idea strikes, getting back into the habit of running, drinking more water, consuming less alcohol, and spending more time in silence.
The retreat at Wolf Ridge genuinely surprised me. I did not expect to feel so exhausted and simultaneously fulfilled. I did not expect to walk away with such clarity. I did not expect to have to face my own shortcomings and insecurities so squarely in the face. It was humbling and grounding.
I’m entering this fall retreat with a few months of practice under my belt, but I still have a long way to go to achieve the balance I need between an external and internal life. Heck, I’m still super busy with all the plans I made BEFORE the last retreat. It’ll take me through the end of October to get back to a calendar that is beautifully blank.
I am so excited to find out what this next retreat holds for me. Yoga, when practiced several hours a day, offers healing through intensity. We stretch our limits, find vulnerability in our discomfort, and achieve new depths in the process.