R.E.S.T!  What many of us think we don’t need…until the word “bed” precedes it.  And by then, the doctor is already involved and we really have no choice!

Yes!  Many of us think we are invincible and can do everything.  Typical life of a start-up entrepreneur.  Our usual quote is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  And whilst that might be true, many of us conveniently forget that on the 7th day, God rested!  

And remember that heavy storm which Jesus calmed with His words (Matthew 8:24)?  Jesus was sleeping before the disciples came to wake Him up.  Yes, He was also resting.  

And why did I decide to write about the importance of rest?!  Well I’ll tell you just now!

I decided to check up on a fashion designer who needed assistance with her business. We chatted about her goals and she informed me about an international competition she planned to participate in.  She also wanted to restructure her operations which was why she chose the FECs.  

I hadn’t heard from her in a while so thought I should check up on her to find out how the competition went and what she told me was completely shocking.  Here is a direct quote from our Blackberry chat.  Don’t worry, I asked for her permission and she said she didn’t mind.  In fact she said and I quote: 

 “I don’t mind, seriously people need to learn from it!” 
So here is what she said to me about what happened to her.
“I’ve been battling with my health since August and didn’t have the privilege to think of work.  Collapsed in my shop Thursday to your wedding.  Almost closed down my business because the doctor maintained it was health related.  I’m walking very well now and will fully start work again”.
Turns out she almost had something similar to a partial stroke.  Just imagine that!  And she is only in her thirties… in fact early thirties.
And what caused it?  Stress!  She was doing pretty much all the work because she couldn’t find the right people.  Which is a valid reason but look at how it turned out.  
This is a snapshot of her typical day:
“I am awake by 4.30am everyday to get the kids ready for school.  I usually pack my breakfast which I usually forget to eat till noon.  I close from work by 3.30 to pick the kids and head home.  I get home between 5pm and 6pm depending on the traffic, feed the kids, bath them and prepare them for dinner.  Once I’m done with homework, I see to laundry and every other thing I could not do before leaving in the morning.  Since I have limited time in the shop, I sometimes bring work home.
I still do freehand cutting so I am usually on my feet cutting for my 3 tailors and at the same time supervising them and attending to my clients who come at all times since I don’t work on appointment basis.  It’s like being under pressure all through the day with no time for rest, recreation, exercise and sometimes food.
You can imagine what my immunity level could be like.  I ignored the signs and blamed it on malaria till the big one came.    
At home and at work, I felt doing it myself meant getting it right because of my past experiences with delegating jobs.  Now I would rather spend time and energy finding the right team than leaving my kids motherless!
My irregular eating habit and lack of sleep nor rest made my blood pressure very low that I found it hard to help myself nor run a business.  I have learnt now to first take care of myself and you can imagine how easy it is to work with a clear head!
My husband confessed he was scared for me but didn’t say it because he didn’t have any solution.  Thank God I am alive to make things right!
And this is pretty much the story of the typical designer out there.  I have often maintained that the major problem with the fashion industry is entrepreneurial burn-out.  We take on too much and believe now is the time to do the work since we are still young.  And yes we might be, but when that is followed by too little rest, which is often the case, look at what happens.  
I still spoke to a lady just last week who said she was too busy to attend a Course her sister had paid for because she could not take any time off work.  I tried to talk to her but she was having none of it.  And I just smiled.  Been there, done that.  Working till 4am in the morning to ensure I delivered on my jobs.  And what happened? Fell ill, complete bed rest twice.  The last one was so bad, I was throwing up and had to be heavily sedated for a week.  And my mum ensured I didn’t get up!  In fact I dared not get up, I was too groggy to even use the loo!  I didn’t even know stress could cause people to throw up.  And I was severely dehydrated so had to be on ORT.  
Only after that did I fully appreciate my mother’s question to me: 
“What exactly are you chasing after?!  Is it this same money?!”… 
Of course that’s a literal translation from Yoruba.
After that, I realized it was not worth it!  If you fall ill, your young business dies!  Only then did I begin to really think about what I was doing and reevaluating my business and its processes.  And even though I changed tactics, I still did not eat well enough, drink enough water or rest well enough.  And look at what happened.  Years later, I landed in hospital a week to my wedding!  Contrary to what people believed, no not from wedding stress.  From working and not resting!  
Interestingly enough, now that I think about it, this problem is not only specific to designers.  I think it is pretty much affects every one who works around here, either at a skill or in a professional environment.  All we do around here is work…so much that the average individual is already growing grey hair at 27!  In fact we work so hard we even refuse to take a vacation.  And during vacations, instead of resting, we are busy either writing exams or traveling and going shopping, or learning one thing or the other.  
Has anyone stopped to analyze their typical week?  This lady did and I am sure deep down, if you look at it, your day is not much different from hers… even if you don’t have children.  Have you stopped to take a look around on a typical Friday or Saturday?  Friday evenings, people are drinking – loads of bars come alive on a Friday evening; Saturdays we’re at weddings and Sundays we are at church and visiting family and friends.  When do we ever have the time to rest?!
I only truly appreciated the real value of unadulterated rest during my honeymoon.  All I did was sleep!  I had no choice.  And boy… now I can fully understand and appreciate why the Western world do not joke with their holidays!  They plan for it in advance!  And I wish we had that same culture.  
I honestly believe we all suffer from very poor time management skills and bad work ethics in Nigeria.  I once asked myself why everyone was always in a hurry around here.  I only realized after careful observation that it was because the typical motorist is constantly running late for one appointment or the other.  That’s why they drive like maniacs, trying to beat the lights or refusing to give access to other motorists!  No wonder there’s so much traffic because the bad time management really skews our sense of reasoning that rather than wait 10 seconds or less to let the next car in, we waste 30 minutes on the road and perhaps an hour or two of other people’s time when you both hit each other!  
Honestly, there really is no reason why people should not close at 5pm.  I am firmly of the opinion that whatever it is can wait till the next morning.  I can understand the odd instances when we close late but it shouldn’t be standard practice.  That’s why I try as much as possible to let my staff leave at 5pm, except when we have serious work (which is not often) or our classes end late.  And whatever happened to family time?  In fact, I believe some of us take pride in coming home late…. just to show that “oh no!  I work really hard!”  Guess what?!  You are playing with your health!  Surely it cannot be healthy getting home at 12am and starting the rat race at 4.30am again, barely 4 hours later.  Not to talk about how that affects our eating habits!  Gosh!  It must be tough!  
Please please please people, you need to take it easy!!!!!!  I beg of you!  You forget that if you fall ill, your business stops!  Forget what anyone says… except you run a conglomerate, I am yet to find a fashion establishment that has reached a stage where it can continue to run itself perfectly in your absence.  Well except a major factory… and note the word “major” where there are systems and processes in place!  You need to rest!
Now I understand why my husband sleeps early.  He jokingly calls himself “a hen” when I harass him on how early he sleeps.  Yes he might be the worst person to watch a late night movie with (because he’s asleep like 20 minutes into the movie), but better that than indulge me and wake up very grumpy which has happened on a few occasions.  And he’s an early riser as well… unlike me!  I am more of a nocturnal person; sleep really late and wake up early, consoling myself that the biggest entrepreneurs claim they have only a few hours sleep!  Ha!  Guess our bodies are different!  And who knows how many drugs they swallow in a day anyway?!  Clearly Benjamin Franklin knew exactly what he meant when he said:
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!”  
I honestly did not expect to hear this story from this lady who had such bright plans for her business and honestly, I am glad she plans to make things right this time!  And not a moment too soon thankfully!
I’ll leave you with verses from the Bible about rest…
Psalm 127: 2 “It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows, For so He gives His beloved sleep.”
I am sure there might be a deeper interpretation of that verse but I’ll take it at face value for now.  
Honestly, I really thank this lady for sharing this with us!  It is SUCH an eye opener and an wake-up call.  Ecclesiastes 3:13 says:  
“And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labour – it is the gift of God”
Yes!  It sure is!  I tell you, there is nothing more painful than spending all your hard-earned money on drugs for your health.  Makes you wonder what the point behind it all is is right?!  Besides, if only you knew what the lack of sleep or rest does to the body, you will be amazed.  I watch The Doctors a lot so now I have learnt to respect myself!  I take it easier now, sleep more and if any of the recent compliments I have received are anything to go by, it appears to be working.  People have commented that “I am now glowing”.  😀  And I hardly even wear make-up these days…
That said!
We are about to start a new week people.  Please make a resolution to take it easy.  Even if not for ourselves, for the sake of those who love us and who gave up a lot to help us get where we are today!  Rest and a good night’s sleep are both free!  Please take advantage of them.
Here’s wishing you all a very productive yet restful week ahead!
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