Bravery to me this week looked like taking a day off to go to the zoo with friends.

I’ve shared in the past few weeks that between the disruption of a pandemic and the realities of starting a business, I’ve not taken nearly as much time off as would be healthy for me. Even the thought of taking a day away from all that I have to do fills me with dread and anxiety.

But last week the universe provided me with a chance to get away that I couldn’t resist: Two friends came to visit, and we did so many fun things, ate many good meals, and laughed A LOT.

Now, hosting two out-of-town guests for the first time in three years may not seem like a break. It was work, but such a different kind of work that it felt restful for my overwrought brain, which is too consumed with beating social media algorithms so that you, dear readers, will be more likely to see things I create, like this blog.

One of our favorite activities was going to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – which is featured in the National Geographic documentary series Secrets of the Zoo. (I didn’t even know that show existed until this weekend. I will be binging it soon.) We joked that my friends were happy to see me, but they were really visiting so they could see the zookeepers featured on the show. 

At the end of the day at the zoo, I had walked more than 15,000 steps, saw hundreds of animals, laughed at the humans and animals alike, and got to feed a giraffe named Lance. All this in beautiful, sunny fall weather that was extraordinary and strange for normally cloudy central Ohio.

The next day I exchanged hugs with my friends as they rushed off to the airport to catch their flight home. My heart was full, even if my body was totally exhausted.

I almost forgot what it was like to take time off like that. Hanging out with my friends, showing them Columbus, and getting to explore the zoo took me away from my work in just the right way. Writing this blog a day later, I feel more creative and braver as I now tackle the big changes I have in store for my business. I feel more excited about them and ready to learn from whatever happens.

And you know what I did before I left the zoo? I bought an annual membership. I plan on bringing my lunch and walking around sections of the zoo all year long now.

So as you contemplate what might help you be braver in the face of your challenges, what would get your mind and body away from your big challenges? Scientific research has shown us that getting away is the best way to promote creativity and, I would argue, bravery. How can you program significant time away as part of your self-care routine?

Do you want to let go of deep exhaustion and the feeling like nothing you do matters (in another word, burnout.)

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