The Art of Relaxing

I am sitting at my kitchen counter, a piping hot cup of Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea in front of me, 1940’s music playing on my iPod, watching the snow fall outside the living room window. When I woke this morning it was cold and rainy and I really wanted to stay inside, but needed to take care of a few errands, including conducting an interview with a woman and her daughter who, along with the rest of their family, raise chickens in North Omaha. Thankfully, I had done my grocery shopping earlier in the week, so the barbecued chicken was in the crock pot and the chickpeas were already soaking in water to be converted to falafel later in the day. After a few hours I was back home and back in my pajamas for the rest of the day and maybe even the rest of the weekend depending on what this winter storm decides to do overnight. I’ve already made plans with my church cleaning partner in the event that I am unable to get there tomorrow and I am set to stay put until Monday morning if need be! This doesn’t happen very often, but I so enjoy it when it does!

I used to fight against days like this. I felt like I needed to fill my days with activity, running here and there, shopping or meeting friends for dinner, a movie or some other activity. Even when the weather was bad, I’d clean off the car and be on my way the minute someone would call to do something or I got a craving for something that wasn’t in my fridge. A few changes have occurred in my life since then, mainly that as I have gotten older, I find I dislike the cold and wind more and more, and I hate having to don boots, a heavy coat, gloves, hat and scarf just to go outside.

Sadly, it seems like much of our society frowns on relaxing (unless it is while on a high priced vacation to a Caribbean island where even then we fill our days with a variety of activities, our smart phones close by to snap endless selfies, check Facebook and respond to emails both work and personal. Even our children are taught at a young age to constantly be busy. No sooner does school let out for the day then they are whisked off to Scouts or dance, or sports, or music lessons, often 5 nights a week and Saturday mornings find a vast army of mini-vans crisscrossing the city on the way to games, recitals or birthday parties at pizza parlors or indoor trampoline parks. Don’t get me wrong, these activities are all wonderful and allow kids (and adults) to get out and have fun while often learning valuable life skills, but is it any wonder that so many of us exist day to day on highly caffeinated energy drinks and use more sick days then the generation before us (okay…I honestly don’t know if that is true or not, but it sure seems like a lot of people are sick a lot of the time now- more than I remember before we became permanently available to everyone and everything).

I think it is time we bring back the art of relaxing, whether it is curled up on the sofa with a good book and a glass of wine or cup of hot tea, taking a leisurely walk with your four legged friend, allowing him to sniff every blade of grass, leaf or broken stick lying in the street, soaking in a hot bubble bath with soft music in the background and only candles for lights or enjoying a cup of coffee or cocoa in front of a fireplace with a friend.  Shut off the phone, turn of the television, hide the car keys and let the world around you and all of it’s stress, bad news and demands fade away- even if only for an hour.

That is my challenge to you in the coming week!  I’d love to hear about it from you and how you felt afterwards!

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