When you just can’t take it any more. When you want to scream and run amuck… 

because life feels so pointless, so boring, so same-same-same. It’s when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Like you’re missing out on living.

It’s caused by a sneaky ghost that lurks in dark places. It’s name? Restlessness.

I battle with it. Maybe you do to. Maybe you also ask yourself this question…

Why do I feel so restless?

Sometimes restlessness feels like a sneaky bastard who jumps into your brain when your bored or daydreaming or working on something you hate doing or having the same conversation with the same friend who just doesn’t get it.

It creeps into the wiggle-space in your brain to give you an itch. Restlessness like to strike when you’re aimlessly sitting around (in your cubicle or office or living room) and then it bites down as hard as it can with serrated teeth, forcing you to shake hard to dislodge the little sucker.

But it’s bite trigger something… an urge…the urge to do somethingto do anything! Just as long as it’s not what you’ve been doing (cause, lets face it, status quo is not all it’s cracked up to be).

In fact, the restless urge hits you so strongly you’re worried you might do something rash… It may cause you to run naked in the streets throwing flowers at all the pale, brown homes just to see some color splashed into their pallid existence. Or you get the urge to throw a few things in the car and drive till you hit Acapulco, where you’ll blissfully spend the rest of your days on the beach teaching people to surf while drinking coconut water.

Or maybe Restlessness leans over and whispers in your ear that you should quit that soul-sucking job that you know is wrong for you. Or say goodbye to that relationship that isn’t going anywhere but you hold onto to even as it slowly squeezes the air out of you. Or stop trying so hard to impress anyone and start learning to love you… as you are.

Or something. Anything.

As long as it involves the feeling of life. Of letting go of hang-ups, break-ups, break-downs, and responsibilities for a blissful moment and just living.

A Restless Life

Back in my old job, with my old life of chaos, stress and self-loathing (which has evolved into a new life of semi-organized chaos, mitigated stress and constant purging of the self-loathing), this sensation use to hit me all the freaking time!

To talk myself off the cliff(and keep my neighbors from calling the cops if I did go running down the street naked) I’d settle for a glass of wine (or three) or a long walk or a chat (i.e. bitch-fest) with a competent friend who dutifully talks me down from the edge (while probably secretly think how happy we might be if we both jumped together, skipping along and doing shots the entire way).

I did my best to ignore the monster of restlessness. Seriously. It needed to shut the fuck up already! I had a life, a plan, a goal… you know, things that needed to be done. Responsibilities that wouldn’t fulfill themselves. I have a goldfish to feed, damn it! I can’t just leave that all behind because it doesn’t feel right.

And despite all that, the question kept arising: “Why do I feel restless? Um, like, all the time?”

Then I was smacked with a big, fat “L” across my forehead when the bottom fell out and I had to change (mostly by force, not choice).

You’re restless because you are not doing what you should be doing.

Just as I thought! (But denied to myself for years and years—see, not so smart… I told you I’m working on that self-loathing thing.)

Through lost of reading and pulling together of ideas I came to my own conclusion that those signals actually mean something. (Wow, I know, right? Told you—smart.)

When you’re hungry you know the feeling. You go and eat. When you’re tired you know the feeling… and you still stay up for an extra hour to watch your TiVo’d episode of Project Runway because the kids are finally in bed and the dishwasher is run and you deserve it, damn it! But I digress…

Your Need for Restlessness

The point being that our inner “needs” are communicating with us all the time through non-verbal channels. That deeper, inner brain of ours has no capacity for language yet it’s kept us alive this long so it must know a thing or two…

So we get the hunger, tired, need-to-go-to-the-bathroom signs but, why dear God why, do we ignore it when it’s trying to tell us one of the most important things of all: that the life we’re living is not the life that fulfills our needs!

What would happen if we stopped ignoring these signs and actually packed our car and drove to Acapulco? What if we signed up for a night class to learn graphic design so that we could work in a creative field that’s always made us feel so energized? What if we started caring a little less about what our mom will think when she hears about X,Y, or Z… even though it was something we wanted to do (cause it felt that the right way to go)?

Would life be as succulent as we hope? Would we feel less restless and more awake inside? Would the voices inside our heads become less critical and more embracing? Would we die? Would we live? Would we go broke… And even if we did, if we felt all those things, would we care?

… Because, all of a suddenly, we would be living a little more.


“It is not too uncommon for people to spend their who life waiting to start living.” – Eckhart Tolle

When my husband and I fired our jobs a couple of years ago and hit the road in an RV I thought we’d instantly start “living the dream.” (Translation: all the life I felt like I wasn’t living would crash on me in one glorious moment and continue to crescendo onward and onward till my life was a symphony of experiences and fulfillment and joy. Pass the jar of rainbows please!)

“Ha!” Fate said. (She can be a real bitch sometimes.)

I was still restless after the newness wore off — which, for my short attention span, was about three weeks. That’s when I realized I was escaping instead of running towards something. (The difference: the first choice is made out of fear, the second one is because I dream of something more.)

So how did I dispel the monster Restlessness when I thought what I was doing (quite job, sell house, sell stuff, pack life into 100 sq. ft., travel and find Zen) was suppose to make it go away? I did what I should have done in the first place — I searched and listened to restlessness instead of telling to shut up all the time.

Restlessness was trying to tell me something.

I finally heard it’s voice, mostly by digging and discovering the answers to these questions:

I searched; I dug; I hunted. I found answers to those questions that resonated with me. It took me almost two years to of experimenting and crawling and cursing and too many bottles of wine to count (thanks, honey, for taking out the recycling) but I finally feel myself on a path that feels right—not always good, mind you—but distinctly right for me.

Was it worth it? Oh, ya! Was it hard? Yep. Should you do it? Ask yourself that question and see how you feel.

My husband’s favorite movie quote: “You either get busy living or get busy dying.”

I review and update my answers to those above four questions once a year because everything changes (including me). It’s part of my new-year ritual, saying “hi!’ to the little monster of Restlessness who’s sitting quietly in the corner. I peak my head in… any growling or pacing going on? No? Then I’ll keep walking my path…

Yes? And the claws are starting to rip at the antique Persian rug (yes—my inner brain space is replete with antique Persian rugs and pair of light sabers crossed over the fireplace. Don’t judge. I can decorate my headspace however I see fit.)

When the little guy starts getting restless I know now that usually means I need to take action and change something that isn’t working or serving me anymore. But, you know what? That’s a good restlessness. All little monsters need exercise. I see it as a signal, a marker in the road telling me there are curves ahead—and to call a rug repairman. Oddly enough, now I kind of like the curved roads and the tattered antiques. I kind of crave them. Because same-o, same-o is—well—more of the same. And it gets kind of old.

So do what your mother said when you were 13 and learn to listen… to yourself (or, the little monster, if you so choose to name it).

What’s the pay-off for answering the question: “Why do I feel so restless?”

Um… I’d like to say “inner peace” and “calorie free cookies” but that would be lying… at least the cookie part.

My Take-Away

Personally, for the first time since I was eight I feel like I’m spending my time on things that feed me instead of drain me (usually). And that sense of fulfillment, when I realize I’m being more true to ME that I have ever been in my life, is addicting.

So come have a taste… just one little taste (or one night class or one less self-criticizing comment, or one canceled date with people who pull you down instead of building you up), because life is short… and, we have cupcakes on my side, so, ‘nough said.

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau

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