Sunday, December 30, 2012

Relax, damn it: Alternate ending

Yesterday, in the middle of writing my blog, I was distracted. By me, of course. I meant to go down path A, but went down path B, instead. Well, I really wanted to go down path A. So here I go: 

I have trouble doing nothing. Relaxing. Twiddling my thumbs. These are non-actions that I don't NOT do well. If you know me, you might find this surprising. If you live with me, you might find this even more surprising. 

You might expect that, with such a high energy level, I would reside in a pristine and completely organized abode. You might think that I should have taught myself French in my spare time. You would, perhaps, ponder why I gained 40 lbs in the past 10 years if I never sit on my rear-end. 

But I didn't say that I never do nothing. I just said I don't do nothing well. I tend to, well, fret (as my dear friend JH would say.) If I am sitting still, my mind is going a mile a minute, thinking of all the things I should be doing, could be doing, might be doing, ought to be doing. Guilt, goad, guilt, goad.

I'm in therapy. Have I mentioned that recently? 

Since this is the week between Christmas and New Years, it seems right and proper that I should be on vacation. Hence the focus on doing nothing--and doing it well. Yes, leave it to me, folks. Not only can I guilt myself for doing nothing but I can also apply a further measure of guilt--gild the lily, as it were--by feeling guilty for not being capable of relaxation. 

But the whole vacation mindset is eluding me. Today stretched before me in an unbroken swath of nothingness. I could literally do anything I wanted to all the live-long day. I have numerous possibilities, occupations of nothing-ness from which to choose. 

For example, we have a jigsaw puzzle up. What a relaxing prospect, eh? Nay. When I work on the puzzle, it is EXACTLY that: work. I cannot relax doing it. Because I completely suck at activities that require spatial intelligence. 

But there are plenty of other relaxation activities (that could be an oxymoron, couldn't it?) that I can do at which I do not suck. Reading, for example. I know how to read. And am good at it. Fast, too. Right now, I'm reading Susan Hill's latest Simon Serrailler novel. Which is wonderful. 

But I don't let myself sit down and actually read it during daylight hours. Like an alcoholic beverage, I feel that there are certain times before which a person of high moral fiber should not be sitting on her bee-hind, reading for sinful pleasure. 

Even though reading is, as a general rule, a good relaxation activity for the Puritanical of mind and heart. The reader gets to sit, relax and truly escape that which is on her mind. Yet, she is doing something Good. Because reading is Good. Unlike watching TV. Watching TV is Bad. 

(Hmm. Yes, this is sounding distinctly Puritanical. Good thing I'm in therapy, as I noted in yesterday's blog.) 

So I was not reading, as it was only early afternoon. Liz's rules say reading cannot occur until late afternoon. Say 4:30pm or so. And then, reading is allowed if done while cooking in the kitchen. See, I'm not really wasting time, as I'm cooking, also.

It occurred to me that perhaps I could apply this same sleight of hand to the reading rule while doing other work in the kitchen. Perhaps I could intersperse sessions of cupboard cleaning and reorganization with book chapters, thus achieving low guilt relaxation and a clean kitchen!

It's a lot of work, being a Puritan. 

So I cleaned and reorganized 10 kitchen cupboards. I threw out canned goods from 2005. And I cleaned my refrigerator, inside and out. 

There's nothing like cleaning out a refrigerator to make me feel like a new woman. It's almost as good as washing windows, probably due to the shiny whiteness and glass factor. When my refrigerator is no longer decorated with dollops of raspberry jam interspersed with errant apple stems and stray spinach leaves, I feel like I have accomplished something with my life. Or my afternoon. 

Did some major dumpage of frig magnets and photo decorations on the outside of the frig, too. Gone are the emotion charts that Annie, Kathryn and I used when we were cranky but didn't want to say so. Not gone is the photo of A and K where they look like twins. :-) 

I threw away a number of magnets adorned with pithy and wise sayings. I threw away a number of magnets adorned with advertisements, too. I did not throw away my two most favorite magnets, one a lovely quote from Scripture, the other a highly inappropriate observation on how some men boost their self-esteem.

Two hours later, I emerged from my cleaning coma. I had, of course, forgotten to relax by reading chapters in between cupboards. And it occurred to me--news flash--that that was probably because I was already relaxing! Flow activities are intrinsically relaxing. And I was definitely flowing, and had totally lost track of time.

Relaxation was achieved and so was something else--best case scenario! Even better, I noticed that we had reached official Late Afternoon. I gladly climbed into the nest (aka our kitchen chair) and opened my book. And I didn't even cook dinner between chapters.  


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