I recently took a month leave from work and did absolutely nothing. Well not nothing. I did something I’ve never done before. I didn’t do any work. I spent it with my family. I relaxed. Really relaxed. I disconnected from my life of work, more work, the Internet, computers and technology. Well, ok, mostly for the last few. This may not seem momentous to you, but for me it was.

The last major break I had was when my son Liam was born. My idea then of relaxing in between all the crying and sleepless nights was to learn the Android platform by creating an App. The App was released August 2011. Now with an average rating of 3.8 out of 5 and over 80,000 installs it has been successful, even if I wasn’t successful at relaxing.

When I returned to work I felt strange. The first few days I was wondering why I was there. What was I doing. What was my purpose. Why did I come here (other than the obvious reasons). I’d look out the window and feel in my soul that I needed to return to the existence I had come from. I missed my pain in the butt kids. There was the usual jokes with family and friends. “Hey, how’s reality? Happy to be back at work? ;)”, to which I replied jokingly “Reality sucks!“.

What I started to notice in the first few days was that I was relaxed at my core. I could think before speaking and putting words out there, making sure they were positive and added value. It sharpened my focus. I no longer felt like a speeding train. I felt like I’d slowed down inside, and was more effective for it.

A few more days passed, and it was the end of the first week. The feeling of strangeness was still there, but so too was the feeling of being relaxed at my core. I resolved to fight like hell to keep it. I started to change my habits. I made time for breakfast in the morning. I resolved not to rush. I made time for exercise; riding, running, walking and started weights again after many years. I made time for my family. I made time for meditation. I’ve made time for thinking, writing and doing. There’s only so many hours in a day, so I stopped doing things that didn’t add value, and just added noise to my life. It’s a liberating feeling.

It’s affected me in other ways too. I had one of my best runs in my first week back at work. Relaxed. Smooth. Good pace and rhythm. But still competitive. I still increased my pace, clawing at the road, gasping for breath for the last couple hundred metres. A neighbour would have seen this person run up the road, collapse on the lawn, gasping for breath, scrambling at his iPhone to press finish on Strava. As I lay there on the lawn, the beats from the earbuds combining with the pounding of my ears, sweat pouring off my face and down my neck, the wind hitting me, I felt alive. I felt great. It’s reflected in my edited Strava Name for the run - “BOOM FEEL MY RYTHM STICK BOUNCE !“.

This Is Water