Only about six inches of snow fell here in West Anchorage, starting on Sunday afternoon. But each year the streets (and highway medians) fill up with people who forgot how to drive in the winter.
Thus we decided to stay home and let everyone else play bumper-cars. Although DF did have a work-related assignment that afternoon, he managed to keep it between the ditches coming and going.
Once he got home we stoked up the fireplace insert and turned off the computers. We enjoyed a long evening of piano playing (him), a New York Times crossword puzzle (me), sharing the meal prep and cleanup, listening to music, reading and talking. For a time we turned on the outside light and shut off the inside ones, the better to watch the snowflakes swirl.
He’d once mentioned the John Greenleaf Whittier poem, “Snow-Bound,” a memory of how the poet’s family endured – and enjoyed – a particularly harsh spell of winter weather. It seemed appropriate to our situation so I asked if he would read it to me. Since he couldn’t find the book that contained it, my computer got switched back on.
We discovered the actual title is “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl.” We also discovered that a room lit mostly by firelight and perfumed with supper fragrances is a perfect place for a recitation of that particular poem.
I watched the flames spin and the coals glow now red, now orange, as he read Whittier’s wistful words, dedicated “to the memory of the household it describes.” That household was a poor one in terms of money but apparently rich in love. One section is devoted to a blizzardy evening spent by the fire, at the end of which the poet’s mother set aside her sewing and
….her steps she stayed,
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love’s contentment more than wealth…
A day later those lines are still with me. DF and I are thankful for our life together, and I want to make sure I don’t slip back into my old 24/7 work habits.
Relax, rejuvenate, recharge, reboot
Today we did leave the house – to shovel, to bring in wood, to run a few errands – but the lovely sense of sabbath/recharging was still there. DF had today off so we listened to music, cooked, talked, joked, cuddled and generally enjoyed viewing life as something other than a time trial.
I suggested we do this again. I suggest you try it, too. Our work will be waiting for us whether or not we stop thinking about it for a day, or even for a couple of hours. Yours probably will be, too.
Shutting off the computer/smartphone/whatever means stepping away from what you feel you should do and focusing instead on what you really must do: relax, rejuvenate, recharge, reboot.
This is particularly important given that the Silly Season is creeping closer. As you’re pummeled by personal and/or social obligations, it helps to know that respite exists if you know where to look – and if you recognize its importance.
Caring for yourself
Not everyone’s positioned to take an entire day off. As a working mom I generally spent Saturdays and Sundays doing the things I couldn’t cram into the workweek evenings. If you’re living the 24/7 lifestyle, believe me when I say I understand.
Believe me, too, when I say that looking back I could have picked out hours here and there and spent them on myself – had I believed I were deserving of them.
Try this, then: Step away from the wi-fi, the children’s play dates, the professional journals, the cleaning or whatever it is that keeps you from giving yourself room to breathe. Even if all you can spare is an hour, grab those 60 minutes and make them count. Guard them fiercely. Insist on them.
Walk, play, nap, browse in a library, write in a journal, soak in a hot bath. If you have a sweetheart, stop talking about work and family and focus on each other instead.
Sound selfish? It isn’t. It’s self-preservation. Everything you set down, even for an hour, will be waiting for you when you step back into the traces once more. But your step will be lighter for having taken the break.
Readers: How do you make time to reboot? More importantly, how do you make it stick?