Like taking a vacation, except actually relaxing.
It’s so much more difficult! And that’s stressful.
So it’s a bit of a catch-22, this “taking a relaxation” thing, but nevertheless I persist in believing in it.
Why do I believe in taking a relaxation?
What an excellent question (“why thanks! I thought of it myself!”).
I believe in it because I think most of us exist in relatively continual states of burn-out. At least I do.
And because most of the things we do to “relax” or “unwind” tend to be fun or distracting or helpful but not actually pleasurable or relaxing. At least most of the things I do.
As usual, my suspicions about the lives of others are just that, so if you’re all fine and dandy on this point then don’t let me tell you otherwise.
I also believe in taking relaxations because creativity needs breaks.
And if you don’t feed your muse with moments of richness and bliss, then your muse will generally go on strike.
And that is a heartsickening pain we’d all like to avoid whenever possible.
How is a relaxation different than a break?
Oh me! Me! Pick me!
I take breaks all the time.
I work for myself, so I can do that. I get my panties in a wad and say “I’ve been working much too hard and what does it matter if I go make myself a sandwich?” and so I do.
Or I say: “What’s the point of working for yourself if you can’t drive your friend around for a few days while they visit?”
Or: “Ah! This is really scary! I’m going on a walk!!”
Nothing wrong with any of those things.
And maybe only a little bit wrong with zoning out to Stewart or Colbert for a few
But they don’t give me the creative nourishment I need.
They don’t feel delicious, guiltless and utterly freeing.
They don’t feel like my dreams have just been given to me for a moment.
In which I decide to attempt a relaxation.
So after the huge effort I poured into my Shiva Nata video class, and then into moving, and at the same time into this new website, and then into the e-book I wrote you, and also on the two other secret things to come…
…I decided I needed one of these relaxations…
…Or I was going to quit entirely. And I love what I do, so I’d rather not quit.
The day my website went live, I looked through my next actions and projects, and discovered there was nothing that couldn’t be put off for three days. A three day relaxation it is!
But what is a relaxation for me?
That’s what I was out to find out, honestly. There aren’t all that many activities I find relaxing.
Distracting, yes, but with the effect of me being more relaxed afterwards? Oh very few.
So it was an experiment. I kept track.
And here’s what I found out*:
Sleeping was a major win.
Napping during the day with Samwise. Going to bed as soon as it seemed luxurious to do so. Getting up as late as I felt really cherished and ready.
Reading in the park was most of it.
Anne Lamott and me, in the park, for hours and hours on end. Five hours, one day. Moving in and out of the sunshine. It felt like the most profound and important kind of freedom.
Social activities are fine, if there are “outs”
I made plans with this new boyfriend person of mine (where’d he come from?) for the first day before I decided to go on relaxation. So I ended up going out to a board game night with him and meeting a bunch of new people…
…and it actually worked out pretty well because 1.)I brought a good book, and 2.)I asked to be excused after the first game. And because I was fine with it, everyone else was fine with it. Success!
Phone calls are mostly not okay
Even if it’s one of my best friends. Even if I’m happy to talk to them. Afterwards I feel all ungrounded and I try to ground out by calling someone else and then I feel less grounded and then I call someone else…
…to sum up, phone calls will not occur in future relaxations.
Facebook is okay if used in happiness
I wanted to take a “relaxation from the internet,” but it wouldn’t be very relaxing to never get to indulge my addiction, so I didn’t make any rules.
And when I was happy and went to check in or brag on social media sites, it was fine.
And when the monsters showed up it was AWFUL.
In future relaxations, there will be a “you are feeling crazy and want to go on Facebook,” alternative activity. Which I will use Shiva Nata to come up with.
Three days is too long
By the afternoon of the third day, my biggest baddest monster had shown up to tell me that I am the most unlovable person in the world and that everyone hates me.
Future relaxations will end at 2.5 days (at the latest) and include social activities with nurturing people in person on that third afternoon.
There may need to be more scheduled writing
I’m not sure.
*The you are you thing…
You don’t have to take a relaxation. You certainly don’t have to take one that’s three entire days long.
If it’s wrong for you, then it’s wrong for you. And that’s fine.
But they might be helpful to imagine. I’d been considering taking one for at least a year before it happened without a lot of work.
And when or if you do take one, of course things will be different for you. I spent my time sleeping and reading but maybe for you those wouldn’t be fun at all.
The best part…
Is that now, as I’d hoped, I’m completely stoked to jump back into work.
Instead of having to drag myself to sit down again like I do after a break, letting go of this relaxation feels like letting a thoroughbred out of the gate. We’re off!
Express yourself: Be heard!
This is a compassionate space.
Which means that we express ourselves if we’d care to, but we don’t give advice, diagnose anyone, or judge them (out loud, anyway).
We own our stuff and we let other people have their stuff.
Because stuff ownage and haveage rocks.