I recently spent two much-needed weeks in Hawaii recovering from severe burnout and evaluating where I am and where I want to go. I didn’t have the big-magical-Hollywood-life-changing epiphany that I expected while listening to the lull of the ocean or deep in a hip-opening asana. But I did discover something far more meaningful and far less sexy: going back to the basics. And I stumbled across it entirely by accident.
I’ve been a runner for more than half my life. My almost daily runs have always kept my body in top cardio shape and my mind clear, calm and strong. But in the last year or so, I stopped regularly running without any concrete reason. I often missed it but didn’t have the physical or mental energy to put on my running shoes and just go.
Leading up to my trip, I decided that I’d start running again in Hawaii, as I’d have the time and hopefully the energy.
So, on the morning of my first full day of vacation, after 11 hours of glorious sleep and an absurdly strong cup of coffee (just the way I like it), I laced up my shoes, put in my Beats by Dre wireless headphones, picked a high-energy Spotify playlist, put on a bright pink trucker hat and hit the road. I ran almost four miles, most of it uphill. It was hard, but I felt alive. I felt like me, which hadn’t been the case for way too long.
My run got me thinking about the other most basic things that make me feel like me, the Tavaner that I know and love. Things like running, yoga, reading, writing, bike rides along the beach, listening to music, seeking inspiration, being near the ocean; swimming in the warm, tropical ocean; surprisingly surfing (that’s a long story for another day), the sun on my face, journaling, connecting with the people I love; cooking healthy, clean food; and always, always dreaming BIG.
I spent the rest of my vacation focusing on these basics. In the morning, I’d connect with my dad and his girlfriend over coffee then go for a bike ride or run, followed by a refreshing jump in the ocean. I’d spend the day reading, journaling; surfing if the waves were fun and small, and wrap things up with a yoga class and a dinner with family or friends. I tried to keep things simple, and every day I felt just a little more like me.
None of these activities is complex or requires a lot of money or time. These are all things that I can easily integrate into my “real” life every single day (maybe not all of them every day, but at least a few).
And I have. Just today, I went for a morning run, an evening bike ride, did some writing (this post, for example), connected with my sister, listened to music; fixed a fresh, plant-based dinner, and took a few moments to be inspired, all around a full day of work. Not every day looks like this, but I do try to include at least two or three of “my basics.” Even though I’m adding more to my days, I feel that I have more time and energy because these are all things that connect me to who I am, my true source of power.
You might have noticed that I didn’t include work in my list of basics. For me, my work challenges me, provides a community of genuine and smart colleagues, and enables us to live right by the beach in Santa Monica and travel to see the people we love, but it isn’t one of those things that are true to me, that connects me with who I am. If I’m not working, I still feel like me. But if I don’t take the time and energy to go for runs, journal, do yoga, etc. my sense of “me” starts to become distant, which is never good.
So, how do you get back to your basics?
I recommend starting with one activity that you used to do and love but lost somewhere along the hustle of life. Is it playing beach volleyball? Drawing? Writing lines of code? Baking elaborate cupcakes? Reading comic books? Walking your dog? Whipping up a healthy, homemade breakfast? Growing plants? Start doing that one activity and see where it takes you. Does it remind you of other activities that make you feel more grounded in the world, closer to your truth? If so, try those, too.
Once you have a few activities, that make you feel like you, write them down on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you will see it every day. When life gets crazy, as it always does, refer to your basics and pick one to bring you back to who you are, what makes you feel like you.