At the end of summer, it hit me: I need to rest.
Not just rest in the sense of getting to bed earlier (though I need that, as well) but also rest in the sense of dedicated time not working. This is not easy for me to do. I’m a person who is always doing something. Remember Laura’s charming description of Ma’s always-busy fingers in ‘Little House on the Prairie’? But in the modern world, what looks like efficiency on the outside translates to exhaustion on the inside. When I sit to watch a movie with my kids, I have my computer in my lap or a red pen to grade papers or a needlepoint project. When I’m faced with a free hour, I look on my “To-Do” list and try to check something off instead of just sitting down and looking at the sky.
My October plan was to do nothing on Sundays. I called it “Screen Free Sundays” but it’s more than that. It should be called “Job Free Sundays.” I taped up the Sunday pages of my calendar to keep from sneaking in small tasks. I won’t lie – the first day was tough. I felt itchy and cranky all day long, wandering from room to room wondering what the hell to do with myself. Now, four Sundays into this experiment, I can honestly tell you that these Sundays off might actually save my life. I look forward to them all week. I don’t make any advance plans, I let the day unfold as it wants to unfold, and I relax into it. Instead of obsession all day about the things that need doing and how I am not getting them done, instead I just stop thinking about them altogether. It turns out, they are still there the next day.
So when my daughter asked me to make her favorite carrot cake jam this weekend, the old me would have scheduled two hours of jam-making into an already full Sunday schedule. (“Yes, we have time for this. Maybe after doing some editing and homeschool planning but before writing the next chapter?”) The new me told her, “Let’s see how we feel on Sunday. If we are in the mood, we’ll make some jam together. If not, we’ll do it another day.” And I did not write it on the calendar.
Who the hell am I??
In the spirit of relaxation, I offer you these simple pleasures as we go into this weekend:
I always forget how much I love Michael Chabon, and then when I come across something he’s written I am floored all over again. The man is such a treasure. Check out this story about taking his young son to Paris fashion week. I’m also a mother of four, and generally mystified by my youngest boy. This passage, in particular, moved me:
By the time a fourth child comes along, the siblings have usually managed among them to stake out a wide swath of traits, talents, crotchets, flaws, phobias, and strengths. Finding one’s difference can often be a fourth child’s particular burden and challenge.
I’ve been making this recipe basically since we were newlyweds 22 years ago. I always have the ingredients on hand. (For the record, I don’t know why pasta, lemons, cream, and parmesan are always in my house, when I frequently forget to buy things like milk and stamps and bread, but there you have it.) This meal is easy enough that you’ll have it memorized after making it once. Exactly what we all need in these crazy times.
Have you read Jodi Picoult’s new book? My book club picked it for November and I can’t wait. She is soooo good with sensitive insight into hot topics.
This cocktail looks like the perfectly elegant and still fall-like cool weather cocktail I’ve been in the mood for. Maybe I will make it to cap off my Sunday of jam-making with my daughter. Then again, maybe I will make it to cap off my Sunday of lying on the couch reading all day. Not committing to anything.
Wishing you all a beautiful, restful weekend my friends.
above photo via Unsplash