When I Want to Relax

Some people go on vacation to “get away from work.” Or to experience some new and exciting place. Maybe they want to have once-in-a-lifetime adventures. While I might want a little of those things, sometimes I want to do nothing…and relax.

Relaxation takes many different forms depending on the person.

There are some people who run five miles to relax. Others want to chiropractor to adjust their joints and then they’ll suck down a gallon of water and hang out in a hammock.
In fact, I find many things can be relaxing. For example, I might relax while: getting a pedicure, getting a facial, having a massage, sitting by the pool, reading a book, walking on the beach (or pier or a trail) and even riding horseback. But do I have to do any of those things in order to relax?
Let me phrase this another way: can I kick my stress to the curb without doing anything special?
Like so many other things in life, de-stressing (isn’t that the essence of relaxation?) is all about mind over matter.

My Mind

As a creative person, my mind is a hive of activity. There are many memes I’ve seen that illustrate this fact, but this is my favorite one:

Because most of the time, if I appear to be staring into space, I’m likely in an alternate universe. One I’m creating and populating with people I’ve dreamed up to face all sorts of situations I’ll never face.

Often my eyes will be closed but my mind will be spinning at a million electric charges per nanosecond. Yep, this old brain is one speedy computer.
Which means it rarely shuts down.
Many authors will tell you they’ve vividly dreamed many of their best stories. They wake up and try to regurgitate the brilliance onto a page before it dissipates with the morning mists.

Yes, even when I’m asleep, mental gymnastics continue.

So how can I ever relax? Where’s the shut-off switch for this thing?
Can I truly rid myself of stress if my thoughts continually roller coaster?
Mind over matter, my friend.
For me, it’s all about WHAT I’m thinking about that determines the quality of my anxiety.

It Doesn’t Matter

In order to dump my stress, I have to actively convince myself that the things hammering away in my brain like an overzealous woodpecker, aren’t important enough to think about. AT THIS MOMENT.
In effect, I convince my mind to reschedule contemplating the stressful items to a later date. Say, Thursday morning…when I’m vacuuming the house.
My query packet for my women’s fiction isn’t ready to submit on June 1. It doesn’t matter. You can think about it May 30th.
Are those sample pages from my nonfiction book enough to convince those agents to request all three chapters? Will they contract me to write the book? Am I ready to delve into the depths of my grief to pen those pages? It doesn’t matter today. I’ll find out in August.
How about creating something new? Maybe just a short piece that you don’t intend to publish? Or the opening scene for the short story you imagined during your girls’ weekend last month.
The cats could be tearing apart the house while I’m staring at the misty horizon at the western edge of the earth.
Look at the shades of blue in the Pacific Ocean and the sky stretching above it. Feel the pounding of the waves against my tattered soul.
The projects and deadlines and considerations for my author world will still be waiting in my office when I get home from this short retreat to the Oregon Coast.

Today, those things don’t matter.

What matters is the taste of the salty breeze, the scattering of seagulls in the surf and the sting of sand blown against my bare calves.
That’s the way I use my mind to subdue the thoughts that would infuse stress into a day meant for relaxation.
Does mind over matter work for you? What is your picture of true relaxation?

Technology: you love it except when you hate it

Technology helps me do so many things more quickly. Most of the time I adore it and thank God for it. Then there are other days.

You know what I’m talking about, right? All the lights flash on the dishwasher for no apparent reason (It’s possessed). The oven shuts off in the middle of a baking a cake. The computer locks up and even the power button doesn’t work so you can restart the stupid thing.

Or maybe it’s the washing machine.

Number One on my Love-Hate list of devices
Number One on my Love-Hate list of devices

I have lovely front loading machines for my laundry. Clothes come out cleaner and seem to look new longer. It even sings a pretty song when a load finishes.

Or it doesn’t work. Period.

You load in the clothes, dump soap in the dispenser and pour liquid fabric softener in its appropriate location. All set. Or so it would seem.

Of course, when you push the lovely power button: nothing. No lights. No sound. No error messages.

Things I’ve tried on the two occasions this event has happened in the middle of laundry day (of course, it could never be when I was just doing a mid-week change of bedding):

  • Open and close the door
  • Open and close the soap dispenser
  • Push all the other buttons
  • Throw the breaker switch
  • Check the door for obstructions and shut it – again
  • Depress the power button a dozen times
  • Hold the power button in for at least five seconds

The fact that this practically new wonder of laundry wizardry doesn’t work isn’t even the most annoying thing. What can be worse you’re wondering?

What irks me completely is that my husband will come home, open the door and check the power source (I’m too short to actually be able to reach the plug) and push the button. The panel will light up and the washer will tinkle its merry “I’m ready to serve you” tune.

At that moment, my jaw drops to the floor. I wonder why I didn’t kick the thing. No, I don’t. That would just hurt my foot. I’m more mature than that.

Can an inanimate device be so fickle that it stops working until its installer strokes it softly and tenderly? I mean, what other explanation could there possibly be?

The worst part is that this happens with other appliances, too. Vacuum cleaner makes a strange sound and starts smoking. Perfectly fine when hubby switches it on. Computer program refuses to open. Starts right up at hubby’s click.

Seriously? Am I just cursed? Do I possess some anti-technology gene or something that makes electric and electronic gadgets feel the need to mock me in this way?

The best part about the washing machine this time: my son was home and when he pushed the button nothing happened either. Ha! Maybe he inherited my curse.

I bet my husband has some sort of virus he implants in that thing so it stops working after so many loads. And I have the perfect solution for his sneakiness.

 He can do the laundry from now on.

What about you? Have you experienced these frustrating lulls in proper operation of mechanical devices only to have someone else step up and start it like a pro?