Saturday, February 22, 2014

Restorative Friday: A Good Book and a Seat in the Sun

Yesterday was remarkably restorative--all the more remarkable because I woke up feeling sad and slipping downward off the edge of a pit of existential despair.

We had yesterday off, as our school celebrated Presidents Day on Friday rather than Monday.  Our classes meet once a week, so if we celebrated on Monday, the classes that meet on Monday miss two classes, with MLK day and Presidents Day.  And so, unlike the rest of the nation, we celebrated on Friday.

I went to spin class, which was helpful but didn't totally lift my spirits.  I worried that my weariness from 2 weeks of work exhaustion (moving + meetings + more moving + more meetings) would sink my whole week-end, and a 3 day week-end at that.

I got some writing done, but that fact didn't cheer me, the way it usually does.  I felt more apprehensive.  I took care of some chores, like organizing the receipts to get ready to prepare taxes.  I felt even worse.  I knew that I should take the car into the shop, but I just didn't want to deal with that.

I decided to take advantage of the morning sunshine.  I grabbed the book I wanted to start, Anne Patchett's This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage.  I had been so happy to find it at the library.  I opened the book and was hooked from the first page.

What a wonderful collection of essays.  I loved the ones I expected to love, the essays about writing (more on this in a later blog post), but I loved the others too.  I enjoyed sitting in the sun.  I enjoyed the feeling of a good book.  So often, I start a book and weeks go by and I can barely stand the thought of looking at the unfinished book.  It's wonderful to be absorbed.

I loved Patchett's tone too.  It was like sitting in the sun with an old, good friend.  I'd been feeling a bit of self-pity, because all my friends are busy, busy, busy, and they've got book contracts and/or editors who are interested in what they're doing--oh the downward spiral of self-loathing that can result from that line of thinking!  And Patchett's book stopped my sniveling self.

Thus, by mid-afternoon, I was back to my cheerful, optimistic self.  I did some work with my online classes.  I paid bills and looked at our budget--we're not doing as badly as I feared!  I enjoyed one of my favorite late afternoon meals:  wine, cheese, and crackers, finished with a Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar shared with my spouse.  We ended the day by watching 80's movies on some obscure, non-network channel:  Out of Bounds and St. Elmo's Fire.  Oh, how glad I am to be so many years removed from that first year out of college!

I needed the kind of day that reminded me that I do like my house.  My last 2 weeks have felt a bit like I just go to work to be able to afford to do home repairs.  On most days, I've left my house before the sun comes up and not gotten home until long after sunset--the kind of schedule that makes me think I should just move a cot into my office and be done with commuting, for all the time I get to spend away from my office.

I'm lucky, in that I only have those kind of hectic work weeks once in awhile.  I know that some people face that existence year after year.  And I'm lucky that the most effective restorative practices are cheap:  a library book and a seat in the sun.

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