Relaxing is a challenging concept for me, but this year I've been working with it the way a child experiments with playdough: rolling it around in my hand and trying to be comfortable with its texture and shape. I learned when Jason was away for a week in May that I can't go from morning to night with no downtime, or I become very tense indeed. All tasks don't need to be done in one day. If I build in time for leisure, the rest of my life is automatically more enjoyable.
Typed like that, it seems infinitely reasonable, however the hard part comes in making it happen. Summer is easier, because hot weather lends itself to going outside, leaving the housework and the query letters, and just playing for a few hours. People everywhere are doing it, and that gives me some kind of permission to indulge in recreation myself.
Yesterday William and I met a friend for lunch in the park. In the morning I felt tightly wound, like my gears didn't have enough oil to keep things moving smoothly, and I was harsh with William and with myself. Walking to the park for lunch, late because I decided to clean my house an hour before we had to leave, I was wearing my shoulders like earrings and stomping along with a black cloud above my head.
I thought about my blog post, and the mantra I was going to try for the day: I will, I will, I will. I ran it around in my mind, gently at first and then gathering more steam, and I found it altered my miserable attitude. It reminded me that I am the master of my fate, and the captain of my soul. It was a beautiful summer day, and I didn't want to waste any more time being grouchy. What is the point of being productive all of the time if I'm not happy about what I'm producing? Where are the memories for my kids if I'm charging around trying to get things done, instead of stopping to laugh, cuddle, or do something fun and out of the ordinary?
We got to the park, set up our blanket and our picnic, and something miraculous occurred. I relaxed. From the top of my head to the soles of my feet, all of that tension just went away. I stopped looking at my watch, thinking about the next thing on my list, and I simply engaged my senses. I smelled the grass and the flowers, I saw the kids running in the water and on the playground, I heard them giggling, I ate delicious food and drank cold water, and I hugged William when he ambled by for a drink or a snack. I engaged in myself and my environment, and it was a gift I didn't value highly enough before.
I planned to stay at the park for an hour or two and then go home to get more done. I stayed all day, until it was time to get Ava from school, and when I went home, I was different from when I set out for my picnic lunch. I was better for my day in the sun. William was happy, and so was I, and I realized that it's not selfish to take time for ourselves to play and unwind. It's essential. I'm so glad to be understanding this now, right before school is out and summer comes with all of its delights. I'm going to taste what summer offers me, and stock up on leisure, and see what it does for my soul.