The Importance of Unwinding

You need it, I need it, we all need it. Something that will allow us to relax and let the string spool off the YoYo of Stress. If you don’t take the pressure off now and again, you go pop! like a weasel, and that isn’t good for anyone.

13The key is to find the things that relax you, and make sure you make time for them. It sounds a bit self-indulgent, perhaps, but consider these words from the philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas. “It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.” In other words, lighten up a bit.

Seneca the Stoic agrees. “We must indulge the mind and from time to time allow it the leisure which is its food and strength.” His suggestions include going for a walk to get plenty of fresh air, going on a trip for a change of scene, or having “social meals and a more generous allowance of wine.” There you are, then. Be stoic: take a walk with friends to the nearest pub. Or consider the Cowper Cups that “cheer but not inebriate” – nothing like a nice cuppa when you put your feet up.

August Borckmann Teestunde auf der Veranda 1889Jane Austen’s heroine Fanny, in Mansfield Park, says “to sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.” Many others before and since have shared this view, although Mary Crawford (she of the flexible conscience), proclaims “I must move… Resting fatigues me.”

Others favour a creative pastime, or reading, or listening to music, or taking long hot baths. The poet Dylan Thomas claimed that “Poetry is not the most important thing in life… I’d much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha Christie and sucking sweets.”

When the Caped Gooseberry and I were preparing to marry, we went through a thingy designed to bring to our awareness any issues that we might have in merging our lives. Forewarned, forearmed and all that sort of thing. The results suggested that we needed to work on finding ways to relax together, because we tend to find different things relaxing. (Other than that it was pretty much you’re weird, he’s weird, go for it.) I like to read and watch DVDs; he likes to think and play strategy games.

BrainStonz1So we had to diversify our relaxment portfolios, and this was a good thing, because there is nothing worse (figuratively speaking) than finding yourself in a stressful situation and being unable to relax. Trust me on this. The Caped Gooseberry and I have been looking for a house to buy for some time (in fact, since just before the prices took off) and our efforts in that direction – with corresponding stress – suddenly increased three or four weeks ago. Just as I developed a pain in my wrist. What it was that was wrong with my wrist, I do not know, but I couldn’t knit with it.

I. Couldn’t. Knit.

I had always assumed that my MO in relaxing was curling up with a classic mystery, and I had not noticed how important knitting had become in the general scheme of relaxation. Had not noticed, until it suddenly disappeared for two weeks. (Twitch, twitch.) I would no doubt have fallen back on my old standby without thinking about it, had it not been for the fact that I boxed them all up back in March because I thought they were getting a bit too much of a hold on me.

book-1294676_640

Once I noticed the rising stress levels, however, I decided it would be all right to fish a few out to be going on with. Now my wrist has stopped doing whatever it was it was doing, I can knit again, and I feel much better. The question remains: will the mysteries stay out of the box, or go back in?

Well, the stress of house-hunting has died away. (In!)
Because we bought a house today, and that brings its own stresses. (Out!)
And we’ll be moving house soon. (In!)
But unlike the last time we moved house, I have no intention of packing away the stress-relievers first. Not all of them, anyway. I have at last learned my lesson: find what relaxes you, and stick to it.

 

Quote: Feelings (and an Award)

“it’s a feeling not a reality, and it’s temporary; when you’re in it, it feels like you always have been and always will be, but that’s an illusion.”
Chaos Girl

Chaos Girl is one of the bloggers I follow, and she has very kindly nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

She is, like me, an eccentric (yay!) and her posts are full of wit, wisdom, and best of all, honesty: we are none of us as perfect as we generally pretend to be, and that’s ok. Highly recommended for a refreshing read of reality.

There are two difficulties inherent in accepting this award: the technicalities of putting the award plaque in the right places on the blog (Chaos Girl has mercifully provided detailed instructions!) and selecting fifteen bloggers to pass the award on to!

That being the case, those I nominate don’t have to accept and do likewise; it is an obligation-free compliment 🙂

The Rules:
1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.

2) The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

The Bloggers (in no particular order):

Ideophilus: he challenges my assumptions, he helps me see things from entirely new perspectives, and he always claims it’s his fault if I don’t understand 🙂 Inspiring in print and in person (and I should know, he’s my husband).

Esther Van Kuyk is (among many other things) a talented illustrator who engages with serious issues without forgetting the simple joys of life – and a great friend. Her work is available on cards and t-shirts: my favourite is the hedgehog – so cute (a correct use of the word!)

Andrea Eames of A Cat of Impossible Colour is a fellow interculturalite*, as well as an elegant, talented author.

Kristen Lamb provides the perfect blend of challenge, encouragement, and laugh-out-loud humour. Must-read for budding writers; highly recommended for anyone else looking for a good read.

K.B. Owen, Mystery Writer writes mysteries, yes, but she blogs about weird and wacky history, holidays, food, and all kinds of fun stuff. Have a look!

The Tiny Farm is a lovely little blog about moving toward a sustainable lifestyle without four acres and a cow. Very much a ‘join me on the journey’ blog rather than a ‘behold my awesomeness you eco-terrorist’ kind of blog – very encouraging!

The Dreamstress is all about historical clothing – studying it, recreating it, wearing it, and most of all having fun with it. Fascinating, accessible, and very easy on the eyes.

Dr Beth of Throwim Way Leg recounts the ups and downs of being a doctor in the back of beyond, PNG. Not suitable for those with delicate stomachs!

Cation Designs shows how enjoyably creative geekiness can be, sewing a mix of stylish everyday items and hugely fun costume pieces, among other creative endeavours. Also sometimes pictures of her gorgeous cat Walnut.

Sara Litchfield of Right Ink on the Wall is a talented writer and editor who also thinks about the big questions in life: what do we leave behind us when we go? Keep an eye out for her novella The Night Butterflies, coming out next month!

Gwyneth Hyndman of Sweet Home California is a much-travelled writer, journalist and general free-lancer who is the epitome of the life-long learner – always going someplace or trying something new! We were classmates back in our Wellington days…

Malcolm Guite is proof that form does not limit creativity, but rather provides scope for it, with his beautifully balanced sonnets circling the canonical calendar (among others). His Stations of the Cross sonnets are my particular favourites: I reread them every year.

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles is the place to go for “fairytales, folklore, fantasy, myths, legends, and children’s literature” in Katherine Langrish’s own words. Always a fascinating read.

Worthwhile Books is an unashamed book snob, so if you’re looking for reading recommendations that have screened out the mindless pap, stop by!

The eponymous Editor of the Editor’s Journal takes pop culture’s latest and asks questions which invite discussion and actually make you think before you comment. Refreshing and deservedly popular.

So there you have it: fifteen blogs I find inspiring, in one way or another. Or rather sixteen, because of Chaos Girl, who I’m not allowed to nominate 🙂

*a neologism, as far as I know. As with everything else on this blog, it’s under a Creative Commons licence, so help yourself!

The Great Silence

Not the monastic zip-lip after Compline, or even the rather fascinating documentary about the Grande Chartreuse (proof that monks do indeed use the Alps as a snow-slide).  No, I refer to my lamentable lack of posts lately – due in large part to having been away for the weekend to recover from the after-effects of moving house.

Today, however, I was at home, and have finally unpacked the books! It took some time to find space for them all, but in the end the deed was done.

One of my favourite things about our new house is the study (or library) – an entire room for reading and writing! Unprecedented luxury.  One long wall of this room is entirely covered in shelves, so I didn’t even need to have much recourse to the four bookshelves we brought with us. The result of my afternoon’s labours is something like this:

Wall Paper of a sort

There is one free-standing shelf containing my mystery collection (a collection of mysteries, that is – hard to collect something if you don’t know what it is) and writing books. There’s also a lady’s reclining armchair (designed for those of us whose legs are of moderate length) and my little writing desk (aka the elegant bedside table).

Happily, these are now accessible as the thicket of book-boxes has been cleared away. The empty boxes are now rendering the laundry largely non-navigable, but that’s not such a problem. Translation: I don’t read in the laundry.

reading in the laundry hamper

Next Monday I should be able to get going on the writing in earnest.

For, to confess (is not the internet the great confessional, except without penance, privacy, or more often than not, penitence?) I have not written a word in weeks. This past week I’ve spent my extra time in the morning asleep, and I can’t even remember the last time I did morning pages. Or updated the word count spreadsheet.

OK, I checked. The last time I updated the spreadsheet was the 10th of August (yes, a month ago) and the last time I recorded anything other than blog posts was on the 24th of July.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written something since then, but yikes.

Any advice for getting back into the swing of things, or suggestions of appropriate penance?
R.S.V.P!