Vacation is what you take when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer. – Lion from Wizard of Oz
Time to hang up the Wii remote and put away Super Mario Galaxy 2. Life starts up again tomorrow. Eli is back to school. Marc will be back to the warehouse. And Brenna and I will resume our weekly juggling of her naps and my availability to take merchant calls. Add to that dogs who are tired of being cooped up in the house, cats who are constantly seeking out any sunbeam and/or warm spot to claim as their own. And lets not forget the bills that need to be paid, property taxes that are due, and other financial issues that seem to loom over most every decision we make.
In other words, it’s a return to stress – the every day kind and the not so every day kind.
Often my first reaction to a stressful situation is to overcompensate and overwork to overcome whatever it is. I am a big believer in formulating a plan and then working head-down-nose-to-the-grind-stone diligently towards the end goal. Call it the control freak in me (not out loud, that would be rude), but I find comfort in knowing “the plan” and being able to see clear progress as steps are checked off along the way. However, there are times when the plan doesn’t seem to be coming together. Progress can seem slow or even feel as if it’s sliding even further downhill. When that happens, I tend to hunker down even more. I withdraw. I become distant, distracted, and obsessed with finding the solution. I can become short tempered, resentful of others who appear to be taking things less seriously than I think they should. I become a grouch (or some other word that ends in ch).
Sometimes though, the best thing I can do is step away, take a breath, and come back to tackle the problem with a clear head. And this weekend (really, the last 2 weeks), I did just that. I stifled the urge to focus on making lists of steps that needed to be accomplished right this very minute (at least according to my plan) and tried to just breathe. I thought this would be especially hard since it was also New Year’s weekend. In years past, I would have been in a serious slump looking at all the things that needed to be done. I would have then turned drill sergeant-ish and began to bark orders to all those within earshot in an attempt to get us back on track. And I would have told those same people and myself that I was doing this because I loved each of them and that we had to keep our eyes on our (my self proclaimed) family motto of working now so we can play later.
Replacing important things in your life with work only causes anxiety to build up–not to mention that it takes the joy out of life. Contrary to my self proclaimed family motto, sometimes in order to get the work done, one has to take some time and play now.
This holiday season has really been like a vacation – or a staycation – for me. Vacation does not have to mean physically leaving your everyday life and jet setting to the beach. Whatever relaxes you, brings more clarity, or calms your mind during times of stress can certainly be enough to rejuvenate! When logic tells me to quicken my pace and pile on the extra work, yet my heart is reminding me of the meaningful time I am neglecting with family, friends, and myself, it’s time to slow down.
That brings me back to Mario Super Galaxy 2. If you haven’t played it, it’s a 2 player (3 player the way we play it) Wii game that requires you to work as a team to solve puzzles in order to advance. I remember being very, very bad at the Nintendo 64 Mario Bros games, but I love this one. I loved the time we spent working as a team… hearing my son say, “ahh drats! Don’t worry, we can try again.” I loved feeling like even though it was “just a game”, somehow we had joined forces and become a super team. We were unstoppable. And we managed to laugh a lot.
So, like I said, tomorrow life starts up again, and tonight I will probably lay in bed making lists, but right now, I am relaxed and feeling very connected to my family. And that’s the first step to solving pretty much all our problems!
What relaxes you, brings more clarity, or calms your mind during times of stress?