It’s funny how often those of us in the coaching, teaching and consulting world fail to practice what we preach. With winter tightening its grip on Bozeman, Montana, I’m already dreaming of sunshine, warm temps and crashing waves. And while my mind often journeys to the Pacific and our beloved Garden Island of Kauai (where my daughter started kindergarten and where we escaped a Greater Yellowstone winter), the reality is we don’t have an extended vacation on the books; so reveries of palm trees, trade winds and surf is the only escape I have right now. Or is it?
After a roller coaster of a week in the publishing world, I eagerly anticipated unplugging for two days in hopes of re-capturing my writing flow and starting my next project. While I wasn’t looking forward to kick-starting my weekend with a trip to the hospital for what I assumed was just another MRI (I’m a veteran of the torture tube, this being the eighth such test I can recall), I wasn’t tripping either. “It is what it is. This thing will be over before I know it,” was my mantra.
When I received a call earlier that morning asking me to arrive an hour and a half before my test was scheduled, I didn’t bat an eye. I knew they were going to do a contrast dye to enhance the imaging. What I didn’t know, until the radiologist called my name, was the nature of this dye test. Instead of shooting it into a vein in my arm the way they had before my last CAT scan, this procedure would be more invasive. As I was limping back to the prep area on a piercing left hip, my escort began to describe the procedure I was about to experience.
“Damn, my man, I didn’t expect all that tonight,” I replied, “but it’s all good. Whatever this doc wants to do, I’m up for as I trust him one hundred percent.”
“I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be fun, but it’s a short procedure and then we can get you over to your MRI,” came his response. Then he went on to talk about the potential side effects: bleeding, infection, etc.. I had heard it all many times before.
In reality, it was nothing. Some numbing injections in both hips followed by what appeared to be metal probes exploring both my hip capsules until deep enough to inject the dye. Just a “stinger,” as I described it to me family.
After four surgical procedures in nine-months, plus a Christmas brush with eternity, simply going into the surgical room, getting prepped and laying on the table brings back some not-so-pleasant memories, but it’s all about perspective. This wasn’t worth stressing over.
The best decision I made all evening was after my procedure, when the radiologist asked what Pandora station I wanted for the duration my scan.
Seventy minutes is a long time to lay still, straightjacket style, on a table in a small tube with demonic noises drowning out my tunes of choice. But before the brain rattling screams of the machine reached fever pitch, Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” brought a massive smile to my face. My head was in a good place. My mojo strong. Multiple times throughout the scan, I actually found myself laughing at the ridiculous sounds the machine belted out.
Though I wouldn’t describe myself as claustrophobic, I definitely don’t like being out of control. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I never took up drinking. It wasn’t until the last fifteen minutes of the test, when my hand went completely dead on my chest and my feet went equally numb, that I had to tap into some deep breathing and meditation techniques to combat the anxiety. In that moment, I felt gratitude for the brilliant editor of my last book, who strongly suggested that I add several thousand words of text to close each chapter with practice exercises, in order to give the book a “self-helpie” feel.
When I awoke the next morning it’s safe to say I was feeling it, and that I had a little extra hitch in my gitty up. After one of those particularly challenging co-parenting moments that come with the territory of divorce and splitting time with the child that represents my mission and purpose, I knew I needed space to re-group and gather my wits.
A mini was in order. Somewhere in Be Audacious: Inspiring Your Legacy and Living A Life That Matters, I discuss in detail the importance of vacations. We can’t all hop and plane and journey to the Pacific every time we need respite from the daily grind or when, as in my case, a collision of shitty cards creates a perfect storm of angst and frustration.
This is where the mini becomes critical. It can be as short as a walk in your favorite park, a couch session with HGTV, curling up with a good read, or a day of unplugging from electronics. For me, it was clear that I needed a change of scenery. So after attending my little one’s basketball game, I gave my little super star a big hug and told her I’d see her after school Monday, following her weekend with mom.
As we walked out of the gym I told my wife to pack an overnight bag for a mini-vaca. Excited and clearly of a similar mind, she asked, “Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
Truth is, I didn’t know.
Two hours earlier, at our favorite breakfast joint, talking about the direction of my next two book projects, taking off wasn’t even on our radar. But sometimes one “last straw” represents the tipping point. At that point, we need to just wing it, act on the fly.
As we drove home, I called my go-to rental crew, who gassed up and washed our favorite Avalon hybrid and within an hour, we were journeying south to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
It was a booshie twenty-four hours, filled with good eats, deep conversation, stunning scenery and lots of love. We didn’t solve my publishing decision, didn’t figure out the next steps with my hips, didn’t find a location for her bakery, didn’t uncover funding for our food truck, and didn’t resolve my frustrations as a dad who loves my little girl more than anything.
But we did share our hopes, dreams and fears. We did uncover a new favorite restaurant. We did eat the best enchiladas of all time. We did reconnect, focusing on our love, partnership and future.
It wasn’t Poipu Beach or Hanelei Pier. It wasn’t riding waves or snorkeling turquoise waters. It wasn’t warm temps and tropical breezes.
But it was just what we needed.
Rest and recovery are a big part of the resiliency portion of the BA Balance. After our twenty-four hour getaway, I’m more convinced now than ever that it’s paramount we recognize the wear and tear before the wheels come off, practicing compassion with ourselves, honoring our right to embrace the art of the mini.
~Michael W. Leach