Can I be real a second?

Can I be real a second. I'm bad at vacatoning.“Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?”      –George Washington in Hamilton.

Hey people, here’s the truth for those of you on Instagram thinking my life is a series of naps, writing, and travel.

I’m terrible at vacationing.

Picture this: I’m with my roommate from college in Todos Santos, Mexico, which is a village an hour and a half north of Cabo.  I’d finished a book and handed it in. Linda, my energy twin, had just transitioned into a new big job away from an old big job.

Here was our dialogue.

Me: “Man, I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I’m so tired.”

Linda yawning while she is driving. “Me too. Exhausted.”

Me: “Do you think I have long Covid?”

Linda: “Maybe. Do you think I have chronic fatigue?”

Me: “All I want to do is sleep.”

Linda parking the car at the casita. “Me too.”

Me: “Should we go hiking?”

Linda: “We should go hiking.”

Me: “Let’s take a super quick nap and then go hiking.”

Linda Crawls into bed: “Set the alarm.”

Me: “Ok.”

I don’t set the alarm, and Linda and I sleep for the next seven days, punctuated only by finding food, walking to the beach to sleep, and having eighty-seven conversations about what possible diseases we have.

ME: “MS? Parkinson’s? Scurvy?”

Linda: Measles? Mumps? Rubella?

Here’s the truth. The only disease we have is guilt about resting. And, it’s an epidemic, dare I say a pandemic (too soon?). In this affliction, the stricken (and you know who you are) don’t feel (what is the opposite of guilt?) Good? Right? if we aren’t crossing off our too-long to-do list.

Is there a cure? 

*Diabolical laughter here.* 

There are lots of people who will tell you to get rid of your phones, unhook from capitalism, embrace the natural rhythms of the universe, manage your stress, and say, “No!” They will urge you to eat more vegetables, try chia seeds, and book a session with a Reiki master. Basically, give yourself a new to-do list. 

Here’s what I will tell you after studying and teaching health psychology for three decades and basically being wrong with conviction but also occasionally right.

If you’re a racehorse. Be a racehorse. If you’re not, you be you. 


If you want to feel less guilty about rest, spend time with people who won’t haul you on a hike when you want to nap—who won’t nap-shame you or give you advice when you didn’t ask for it. 

Maybe one day a week, say to yourself, “You live in this world. This world is chaotic. Good for you for doing your best today.”

If you really want to feel less guilty about taking a break, then go to therapy to see why you, specifically, feel guilty.

I know why I, specifically, feel guilty, and I’ve been chatting with my dead dad about it. After receiving twenty-one validations codes while trying to get my tax information from every place I need my tax information from, I usually say, “Dammit, Dad, why am I so like you. Driven, time urgent, goal-oriented?”

You know what he says?

“Go, nap. Internet security will be here for you when you wake up. You’ll feel guilty when you fall asleep, but then, when your brain is more rested, you will remember your passwords. You are who you are, and you’ll be that person until you want to be someone else. That’s how it goes. Now, your mother and I are going to try pickleball. We’re sporty in heaven. Mom no longer has Alzheimer’s, and my ankle healed. Sleep Tight.” 

So, I took a nap, remembered my passwords and that’s how I was able to post this letter to you.

Just thought I’d let you know.

XO Ann






  1. Maggie Smith on March 28, 2024 at 12:15 pm

    My daughter has the right idea. In November she took off in a skoolie (renovated school bus to live in) with her new husband (they’re 26) and two dogs. In fact she’s been in Baja Mexico for the last 3 months, living the life. Surfing, swimming with dolphins, seeing whales breeching (whatever that is), eating huge breakfasts, and probably napping a lot (she doesn’t post about that part). I have been giving myself permission to take afternoon naps every once in a while and feel, not guilty exactly. More like I’m getting away with something. Guiilty pleasure is closer to it. Enjoyed your thoughts, as always.

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 12:34 pm

      Wow. She does have it right. Amazing. I wish I’d done more of it. I must do more of it.
      Let’s nap next time I’m in Chicago.

  2. christi on March 28, 2024 at 12:51 pm

    I love your dialogue with your dad. Happy to hear that it’s never to late to pick up pickleball! LOL
    I’m the worst at napping. I like the idea of it but I just never fall asleep.

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 2:18 pm

      I firmly believe we had this dialogue. lol. Never too late to pickleball!!

  3. Rita Dragonette on March 28, 2024 at 1:04 pm

    Unabashedly guilty. Or, as it’s been said: born to work.

    And yet I’m no longer prolific.

    Without deadlines I’m just a lump of guilty potential.

    In my next incarnation I will learn how to play.

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 2:20 pm

      A lump of guilty potential.
      You made me laugh!!

  4. Heidi Dunfee on March 28, 2024 at 1:20 pm

    OMG! Yes, this is me too! Rest? Relax? Coupled with guilt that I should be doing something “more productive”. Gotten better in my retirement now, but surely wired to keep moving!!!

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 2:19 pm

      We are of that generation, and also our genes, I think. I see you :)/

  5. Jeanne Felfe on March 28, 2024 at 1:21 pm

    Naps are heaven. We all need to allow ourselves to instead of waiting for our bodies to force us by becoming ill.

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 2:19 pm

      IT’s absolutely true. I am the queen of sleep when I need it.

  6. David R. Roth on March 28, 2024 at 1:37 pm

    Oh the irony. So much for Warren Zevon’s defiant declaration “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” The afterlife is sporty. Who knew? Nap on, MacGarvin, and damned be they that first cry, “Wake! Work!”

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you David. Hat tip.

  7. Katy Perry on March 28, 2024 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks for this great post! Like christi, I can never fall asleep during the daytime, but your your post has inspired me to go do something else fun. It ‘s the first day of the 2024 baseball season. I am going to close down this computer and celebrate summer!

    Had to listen to that Warren Zevon song first–it’s amazing. Thanks, David.

    Now on to MLB. Let’s go, Twins!!!!

    • David R. Roth on March 28, 2024 at 4:50 pm

      Thank Warren! Check out “Life’ll Kill Ya” if you haven’t. Dude was the grim oracle.

  8. Ruthie on March 28, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    I am so glad I have lived long enough to be retired! I do love to work, and would welcome it a day or 2 a week, but now that I don’t have to do anything I enjoy choosing how I spend my day. After all of those years of 80 hour + weeks and of keeping myself healthy, at 77 I am reaping the rewards. “The best revenge is living well!”

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 8:59 pm

      Good on you Ruthie. That’s the way to do it.

  9. Samantha Hoffman on March 28, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    Your dad is so wise. It’ll all be here when we wake. Excuse me now while I take another nap.

    • Ann Garvin on March 28, 2024 at 9:01 pm

      Night, night sweetie.

  10. Denise Ditto Satterfield on March 28, 2024 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for writing down what I’m thinking, It was so much easier to just read it. 😘

    • Ann Garvin on March 29, 2024 at 11:59 am

      hahaha So glad to be of service. 🙂

  11. denise on March 28, 2024 at 11:40 pm

    You’re such an inspiration!

    • Ann Garvin on March 29, 2024 at 11:59 am

      You are love and light.

  12. Cassandra Trepanier on March 29, 2024 at 7:12 am

    I definitely needed to hear this. I have been feeling so guilty lately for all the things I can’t do with my new health condition. Resting has never been easy for me, even when it’s on my to do list.

    • Ann Garvin on March 29, 2024 at 12:00 pm

      We were brought up in the productivity culture and we learned it well.

  13. Christine Keleny on March 29, 2024 at 11:33 am

    Great post! Great advice! Great… Sorry fell asleep for a second 😉

    • Ann Garvin on March 29, 2024 at 12:00 pm

      Mission accomplished!

  14. Lorie Francar on March 29, 2024 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you for giving me permission to not feel like a slacker. I am a couple months shy of 69 & have been retired a couple of years. I still feel like I need to constantly be productive / doing something around the house throughout the day to be worthwhile. Not sure why; hard to explain.

  15. Bonnelyn Thwaits on March 30, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    Dear Ann (insert Abby),

    I am so afflicted that I feel irritated watching other people resting. How mentally twisted is that?


    Ever restless in Tucson

  16. Susan McCorkindale on April 6, 2024 at 2:11 pm

    I loved this and in fact have just finished reading it on my bed where I plan to nap as soon as I finish this note. Naps are the best!

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