Are you waiting for the perfect time to take a break? Are you longing for time to relax and enjoy life? As we learn from this dialogue from Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator:
“Are you ready?" Klaus asked finally.
"No," Sunny answered.
"Me neither," Violet said, "but if we wait until we're ready we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let's go.”
It’s never the perfect time. However, if you are looking forward to a long weekend, consider making this one a relaxing one. The whole idea behind organizing, applying Feng Shui to our lifestyle and home, and making our homes more enjoyable, living spaces is so that we can actually enjoy our homes. Most of us spend a good deal of our income providing a home for ourselves and our families. Those of us who work from home, also invest great sums of time, energy, resources, and finances to providing for and taking care of our homes, studios, and offices.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 34% of the average American’s income goes to maintain a home. At least 60% of that goes to pay the mortgage or rent for a home. Adjusting this figure to lower incomes, many pay a much greater portion of their income to cover rent or mortgage. If you work away from home, you spend a great deal of your income maintaining your home; if you work from home, you spend a great deal of both time and income maintaining both a home and work space. In either case, the idea of relaxing, kicking back, and enjoying being home, may become more and more difficult to do.
We work hard, and as many of us are also raising families, we are caught up in the activities, expectations, and demands connected to the school year. Graduations have already taken place in many universities, colleges, and some school districts, and more are to come throughout June. Memorial Day Weekend signals the approach to the end of the school year, and to summer vacation. Even if we don’t take a vacation, our lifestyles and activities change. This weekend, in addition to whatever plans you may have to commemorate Memorial Day and those in your families, friendships circles, and communities who are memorialized at this time, take some time to simply relax. Going along with the article I wrote earlier this week about slowing down and finding space between one moment, one activity, or one event and the next, now is a good time to break out of the rut of ‘nose to the grindstone’. Take some time to breathe more deeply, walk more slowly, and take life more lightly.
We are a nation obsessed by doing, doing, doing, and often push ourselves well past the point that is either healthy or efficient. Take some time to relax around the house, patio, garden, or neighborhood. Enjoy taking ‘down’ time-time with no plans, no expectations, and no rushing. Allow yourself unscheduled, free time to do whatever is purely pleasurable. That might be sitting around with friends listening to or playing music and singing. It might mean playing catch or shooting hoops in the back yard. It might be taking a walk around the neighborhood, or sitting in the garden sipping a nice cold glass of iced tea. Pick a bouquet of flowers, herbs, or greens, and set a table on the patio and enjoy a picnic. If it’s raining, move the picnic indoors. It’s time to get the barbecue out-the aroma of people barbecuing is enticing and brings back memories of good times past.
Make some new memories this weekend, and make this weekend about enjoying your home. Appreciate what you have already accomplished, and spend time being at home, not fixing it or reorganizing it. Clear off your desk Friday afternoon, and set aside a good portion of the weekend to be spent away from work. Read some poetry, or pick up a book you loved, and start rereading. Paint, draw, or sketch, and when you visit the cemetery, perhaps consider doing a gravestone rubbing. You can preserve a little bit of history, and do a bit of art and genealogy.
Create a new ritual. Think about some ways you can honor the people in your life whom you want to memorialize in some way. Plant a tree or rose bush in that person’s honor, or write a poem and recite it at a special meal. Think about the people who have walked on over the last year or so, and light a candle or commemorate their memory in a way that keeps the best memories of those people alive. Spend some time in meditation, prayer, and contemplation calling to mind those whose lives you want to remember and honor, and praying for peace and compassion for those who suffer. Pack up some bag lunches (hearty sandwich, fresh fruit, raw veggie sticks, and cookie or two) and hand the lunches out to the neighborhood homeless or take the lunches to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. If you do visit a cemetery over Memorial Day Weekend, take some garden tools and trim around the family headstones, leave a nice bouquet of flowers, and spend a little time cleaning up around the grave site.
Walk in peace and serenity. Allow yourself to move slowly throughout the weekend, and to do less than you might normally do. Take a little extra time to ‘do nothing’, and if you want, take a nap. Enjoy the home you work so hard to maintain, and spend time either by yourself or with family and friends doing nothing more than being together and letting things be. Take time off from whatever pressing needs there might be, and refresh, renew, and relax. Have a slow and easy Memorial Day Weekend. And if you have to work all weekend, plan some time as soon as possible, to slow down, take some time to relax, and just enjoy being home. Enjoy the solitude. Enjoy unplugging and doing not too much. Read, or be creative, fix simple meals, and see how little you can get done for a change. One day, one weekend, or even one hour is not too much to ask of ourselves to simply be.
Voltaire once said, “We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” Waiting for the perfect time to take a vacation, get the rest we need, enjoy our homes, or find enough time, money, or energy to do what we want to do-are all wastes of precious time being present right in the gift of this moment. Instead of waiting for the right time, or enough time, make time. Set aside the time, and give yourself the opportunity to live life