Productive Rest


How's everyone doing so far? Thriving? Drowning? Productive? Unmotivated? Confident? Scared? Thankful? Pessimistic?

How many of us read that list and felt a twinge of shame or guilt when we identified with a so-called "negative" word?

Why does it have to be all or nothing? Why can't we be thriving even when we are drowning in an overwhelming demand for our attention from our work, home and kids? Why can't we be scared but thankful at the same time? 

I'm writing this blog post, typing on my laptop while lying in bed with a bad back. I have been bedridden for a few days now and am very amused and fascinated by the observations I've made of my thoughts and emotions during this time.

Care to see what they are?

The very first thought that flashed through my mind when my back gave out was, "Oh no, not now! I still have so many orders to process." And then panic set in and his best friend, regret, followed closely with a series of "if only" thoughts: "If only I'd taken my time to straighten my back (but that would have been impossible because I was rushing to the Post Office before it closed)", "if only I was standing near something I could hold on to when that happened, then it wouldn't have been so bad (I was in the middle of the garage on the way to my car)", "if only I didn't care about what the neighbors outside their houses thought of this strange middle-aged woman walking hunched over like a 90 year-old lady to her car (I get a stiff back when I work for too long at the desk and I can't straighten my back for while). If only, if only.

And over the next couple of days, impatient me tried to sit up and get out of bed a few times (haha my daughter said I looked like a beach whale trying to get back to the water during these embarrassing attempts), only to make my back worse. "I need to be well NOW so that I can work on the orders. I need to cook for S because she's not used to her grandma's cooking etc."

When I finally gave up trying to rush my healing and just stayed still, my eyes opened.

"Wow, how could I have slept so much these couple of days??? I practically slept the day away and can still fall asleep early at night."

"I'm eating so much! Why am I so hungry???"

And I realized my body is trying to tell me something: it's time to rest, recuperate  and rebuild.

So I finally stopped fretting and did just that.

I still get that nagging voice in my head, reminding me of how I'm going to be so dead trying to fulfill all the orders. (Even though I'd still be within the promised processing time frame, I've always felt the false expectation that I need to beat my own processing time. Processing time is 3-5 days? I have to do it in 2! Never go to 4 or 5 days. That will be too late in that time frame. Can't cope and it's now 5-10 days? Let's try to do it in 4 days! Don't you even dare get close to 10! Any other shop owners crazy like this? Come on, you know who you are. Haha.)

So what did I learn during this time?

1. I'm crazy. There are good reasons why I lengthened the processing time. So just keep to it!

2. All fall apart when one very important component breaks - ME. Can't process the orders, no photos, no IG posts, no designing, no nothing. Because I'm a one-woman shop, I especially need to be fit and healthy. So take care of me first. If there comes a time for the business to scale and I get staff, great. But the time is not now.

3. I've been productive in this time of rest. Sure doesn't look like it when I've just been laying in bed for the past few days. But I believe my body has been resetting itself in its own mysterious and miraculous ways in the background, while I'm just here laying still, eating, drinking, sleeping, reading, watching shows... It's getting ready to go for a longer journey ahead.

"Simply put, personal productivity is completing the actions that move you closer to accomplishing your goals in a manner that brings balance and ease into your life."
- Joshua Riddle,

Yep, check. This essential rest period, though involuntary, definitely accomplishes just that.

Productive rest.

An oxymoron, it seems, but one that challenges us to rethink the conventional definition of productivity or a well-lived life.

How are you thriving while drowning, my dear friends? It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can experience both concurrently and still be living well. That's just how life is. There's the good and the bad. Sometimes one is more than the other. But there will definitely still be something good happening in that time of bad. It's not just bad things and moments that are adding up, making up your life. Good things are doing just that too, quietly and miraculously accumulating, germinating and budding in your life.

Cheers to this crazy, oxymoronic life!


  • Terry York

    That first answer would be…‘unmotivated’. Surely it will pass!
    Enjoyed your thoughts.

  • Deb

    Hope you are feeling better and stronger. So often one gets caught up in the lists, time lines, expectations, and we neglect what our bodies need. I too was “stopped in my tracks” which gave me time to reflect on my time frames, expectations, and then recalculated to improve all my lists. Change can be hard, but easier when one stops, listens, and begins again. Blessings to you.

  • Yonat

    Eat well exercise regularly sleep enough to recharge your body. Some say meditate, but I haven’t tried it yet. Use your planner inserts to make sure you do it consistently😉 I’m not there yet, but enjoying the journey…

  • Michelle

    I’m glad it spoke to you, Donna. Hope you are doing well.

  • Donna

    Your journal post is so heartfelt…so genuine. After reading it, I felt more at peace with my own feelings. Life is complicated, especially now. Learning to care for ourselves and accept our feelings, rather than fight them, is essential. Thank you for sharing.

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