“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!

About Lisa Montanaro

Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and enjoy productive and profitable businesses. To receive her free Toolkit, Achieve Powerhouse Success with Purpose, Passion & Productivity, visit www.LisaMontanaro.com/toolkit. Lisa is the author of "The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life" published by Peter Pauper Press. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help you be purposeful, passionate and productive, contact Lisa at (530) 302-5306 or by e-mail at .

12 Responses to “Ahh… The Power of a Real Break”

  1. Sarah Stitham

    Love your Blog Lisa. It warms my heart to read about your new life in California and the priceless gift you are giving yourself. I can’t say enough about enjoying life to its fullest doing things that feed your spirit. And, what a beautiful place to spend time outside in the glory of the natural world and having fun!!! I’m a little jealous!!! xoxoxoxo

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Sarah- Thanks so much for your lovely, heartfelt comment. It made my day! I know how much you value taking breaks to rejuvenate your spirit, and always love that you make that a priority. And you alreadyt had the chance live out here in beautiful California, so you know what a special place it is. Wish you were here to partake in some of these outdoor activities with me. 🙂 XO

  2. Charlotte

    This is a great reminder that we all need to take breaks from time to time! The Californian air does wonders as well! 😉 Sometimes when I feel like I am going a million miles an hour and there is no chance of slowing down in the coming weeks, I take a day off. The power is taking time in the middle of it all is more impactful than not taking the time. When I allow myself to “turn off,” I often have my most creative and most inspirational moments. Good for you for taking some time and still run a success life/business! Best of luck to your Husband and his residency as well!

  3. Lisa Montanaro

    Charlotte – Thanks for your comment. And I love how when you are going full throttle and feel like things are spiraling out of control, that’s exactly when you take a break! Good for you. Most people would feel they are too in the middle of it all and need to just finish x, y and x and then will allow themselves to take a break. The fact that you recognize in the middle of chaos that you need to step off the merry go round is awesome. Here’s to taking time off when we need it! 🙂

  4. Nadine Nicholson

    Lisa, this article is special. Mostly because you’re special! Also the west coast is having a real impact on you – it’s like you’re opening up even more to the beauty around you. It’s especially poignant having spent time with you in person and being able to see your zest for life myself. Keep riding that bike honey because it’s doing great things for you!

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Thank you so much Nadine! I agree that the West Coast is having a wonderful impact on me. But I also think it started before I left the East Coast, probably after I lost my beloved Mom. It made me stop and realize that life is so short and we need time to reflect, rejuvenate, and savor it. I know you get that! And spending time with you in person was such a treat. 🙂 I will keep on riding my bike for sure. Thanks for your support.

  5. Christine Marmoy

    Beautiful tribute to life Lisa. Yes, being in the right environment helps to see life from a different angle. I went through that myself when I moved to Spain 6 months ago. The weather is great here so I do enjoy many outside activities….and I still work, but I get to work from a ‘Café’ right in front of the sea when I want to! And that is the right combo of work and play for me….It’s a sign of maturity to be able to recognize that we can work less and still have momentum, work differently and still be successful.
    I love that picture of the coast!

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Christine – Love that image of you working in a cafe with a view of the sea. Ahh… that’s such a wonderful way to incorporate your life into your work, and visa versa. It gives you a blended experience, which is something I talk about with my clients and speaking engagement audiences. Bravo to you for taking a break when you relocated, but little “breaks” as you need them too. 🙂

  6. Gina Bell

    You’re so right Lisa! A vacation and an extended break are two different experiences. One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is the flexibility and ability to adapt to life’s happenings.

    For me a “balanced life” means that I can ebb and flow where my enthusiasm guides me… some days it’s more personal, other days it’s all about digging into a new business project. The REAL breaks are like a gift I give myself.

    It’s really great to hear that you’re enjoying your new surroundings so much (love the pics!). xo

  7. Lisa Montanaro

    Gina – Yes, the flexibility of being an entrepreneur makes it even easier, one would hope, to have a blended or integrated life-work experience. I love that you let your enthusiasm guide you. What a gift! And then when you take a REAL break, it’s an even bigger gift. 🙂

  8. Margo DeGange, M.Ed.

    This is a great reminder Lisa of the power of intentional Business & Lifestyle Design, which is my heart, and my life’s work.

    I too had done the intensity thing, with speaking around the country and the world, travel (for fun and business,) being on lots of Advisory Boards, Panels, and Board of Directors, etc, and being on several faculty posts. Like you, my mom got cancer and passed away 3 years ago. My brother Walt died just last year. Thankfully I had already slowed down and redirected my life to a great degree before those two big hits. I am so glad I did.

    We do not need the death of a loved one, or surgery, or total exhaustion, or unhappiness to make us slow down and become more purposeful. We can choose daily to look at our lives to be certain they are reflecting who we really are, and not what we think others want to see or want us to be.

    Thank you for this loving and beautiful reminder Lisa.

    Many blessings to you!


    Margo DeGange,
    Business & Lifestyle Designer
    Founder, Women of Splendor

  9. Lisa Montanaro

    Margo – We have so much in common, it is almost uncanny. As I get to know you more personally and professionally, I realize that more and more (and we are both Italian to boot!). Yes, it is a daily choice of reflecting who we really are and how we want to live our lives. And we shouldn’t need a serious life circumstance to snap us into realizing this. It should be something that we integrate all of the time, and remind ourselves us… 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


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