Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Relaxation for Balance

I sometimes feel a bit like Elizabeth Gilbert (the author who opens her life to us in her book Eat, Pray, Love, the book I'm currently enjoying a handfull of pages at a time). She writes of her self-conflict - her brain is in a constant mad dash (toward what? She's not always sure.), she is driven by creating a long list of accomplishments and she's left exhausted if ever there's a pause in the whirlwind of her life. I'm not living at the extreme end of the scale as Liz describes, but I do have a brain that I struggle to quiet (if even for 5 minutes!), I thrive from having an overflowing plate of responsibility (much to my poor husband's utter dismay and my parents' confusion), and if there's a moment of pause, I tend to get sick. Like a truck hit me, sick. Like I'm too weak to lift my body out of the bed sick.

My husband knows this. He knows me better than I know myself, it seems. So in November he put his knowledge to use and got me a gift certificate for 4 hours at the spa for my birthday. 4 whole hours! Initally, my thoughts ran wild about how I was going to schedule 4 hours at the spa when we have 2 small children and we like to reserve evenings for family time. Of course, he already had that part figured out (smart man!). He would take off a day from work to be with the kids, giving me "the day off". Then my thoughts ran wild about how I'd manage to be away from them all for 4 entire hours. I hadn't yet processed the generosity of the gift or how I really did NEED the relaxation to help knock me back into balance. I politely thanked my husband, who must have thought he did something wrong because I stood in silence for much longer than I should have, and then pushed aside the gift certificate. I'd have to mull over how this would all work and if a plain Jane gal like me really had any place in a fancy spa (I'd been to one before - a gift from my husband early in our marriage - and felt a bit out of place).

The first time I scheduled the appointment things went very wrong, seemingly confirming that it was best if I remained in control (have I mentioned that I like being in control, as much as I try to back-off, I have more trying to do!) and stayed with the kids and let a more deserving person go in my place. First, I got started late, then I got 5 miles down the road and realized I didn't have my gift certificate with me, then a tree went down on a major road and all traffic had to be rerouted. After sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 30 mintues on a 2 lane road, I realized there was nothing relaxing about rushing to a day of pampering when you'd miss half of the massage (and for me, I think that is the best part). SO, I called the spa (my third call to them that morning) and asked if I could reschedule (I think my sobbing convinced the manager that this really was not my choice, but truly was due to an act of God, so they would kindly allow me to book my appointment another day). It comes as no surprise to my family that I got sick just 2 days later. Like a truck hit me, sick.

Anyhow . . . I had (and kept!) my appointment yesterday (a week after the second round of knock me down sick). I learned some very important things:

1 - Yes, a stay-at-home mother, wife and author DOES belong at the spa (on occassion, this doesn't need to become habitual!)
2 - My husband is a wise man (though he won't admit it)
3 - 4 hours of time to myself (when I am healthy, not in a sick-induced sleep) to breathe and relax with no responsibility was amazing
4 - I'll be less pouty and rediculous next time someone offers me such a generous gift
5 - Some of my destination-focused energy can use refocusing to soak-in the actual journey

So my next challenge is taking some of Liz Gilbert's modeling of meditation with my own recently experienced calm and applying it to my daily life. It is a WHOPPER of a challenge for me, but I think its effects will ripple nicely throughout my family. Just a few minutes here and there for calm. With regular doses of relaxation maybe my body won't feel like it has to lurch into illness - it might actually enjoy the quiet and reward me somehow. Wow, now that I put it that way, this is definitely something I need to do. Calm, quiet, relaxation . . . Guess my first step is to step away from the computer, right?

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