Ahh… The Power of a Real Break
Written by Lisa Montanaro | February 19, 2013

“Silence was the cure, if only temporarily, silence and geography. But of what was I being cured? I do not know, have never known. I only know the cure. Silence, and no connections except to landscape.” ~ Mary Cantwell


Enjoying bike riding in my new town.

In looking at my life the last few years while still living in NY before I relocated to California last summer, I realize how full it had become. In some ways, that was very very good. But in other ways, I now realize that it was a little too full… one may even say, over brimming! I have always been a full throttle, live-out-loud kind of person. I have an huge appetite for life, have many passions, interests, and hobbies, and consider myself a life-long learner. I was running a successful business that I love, serving on quite a few boards of directors for organizations, enjoying my marriage, seeing friends and family, and partaking in hobbies. And I loved each piece of that life-work puzzle.

But sometimes no matter how great everything is in isolation, when you put it together, it is … well, too much! I don’t think I realized how hard I was driving myself until I had the chance to take a prolonged break this past summer. During my break, I looked back and realized that it had been years since I had truly taken a “break.” Yes, I had taken many vacations over the past 4+ years, but something about this extended break was different.

In 2008, my business took a huge leap and many wonderful things started happening for me — more speaking engagements, coaching, consulting, and exciting opportunities to mix business and pleasure. But then, in December 2008, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and spent the next 16 months battling that horrid disease. She passed away in February 2010 (I can’t believe it is three years since I lost her). I took some time off to mourn, but also was writing my book at that time, which was a positive “escape” from grief. My book was then published in 2011. That year, my husband and I visited 13 locations across the United States to decide where to relocate to for his residency in veterinary internal medicine. We then relocated 3,000 miles from NY to CA in summer 2012.

Stopping to smell the roses... literally!

Stopping to smell the roses… literally!

I took off almost 2 months last summer for an extended break — 2 weeks for us to road trip across country and have an amazing time doing so, and then the rest of the time to set up our new rental home, get to know our new area, and enjoy some rest, relaxation, and reflection. I had the chance to experience real quiet, to go inward, read some great books, write in my journal, and spend time in nature. And what I realized is that… boy did I need it!

Now that I am here in California, I’m choosing to focus more on fun and recreation, and being there to support my husband through his very busy veterinary residency. I am enjoying hiking, biking, swimming, learning Italian, taking dance classes, and walking my dogs in my new neighborhood. Yes, I am working a lot too (I love my business and the work I get to do, so it never feels like “work” for me thankfully), but am also enjoying more non-work activities than I have in awhile. I was operating at a high level for years, and can take my foot off the gas for awhile and still have plenty of forward momentum. That’s what I’m consciously choosing to do.

The beautiful Pacific Coast during a recent hike.

The beautiful Pacific Coast during a recent hike.

I often recommend this to my own coaching clients and audiences when I speak. Now the coach is taking her own prescription and trusting that this is exactly what I need to do right now. There’s a lot of trust involved in letting go to this extent, but I’m crystal clear that it’s what I need to do.

Do you need to take a much-needed break? Is your life overflowing with so much abundance that it is spilling over the brim? Remember, too much of a good thing is still, well, too much!

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.