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Fathers Day, Dolce Fa Niente and how to be a tennis champion.

June 17, 2012 in Everybody Else, Expectations, Life, Weekend

It’s Sunday. Fathers Day.

I’m sure it’s no surprise when I tell you I find myself alone this Sunday afternoon. It’s actually my second day of my being in this state – alone, with my own company. Thankfully where I live, It’s officially a GORGEOUS weekend, high of 79 degrees, sun is shining, humidity is low, and the breezes are constant as they flow through every open window of our home. I enjoy my morning coffee while sitting in the sun, feeling the warmth on my face. As I listen to the suburban drone of mowers, I am transported back in time, my teenage years, when the experience of what ‘being home’ meant revolved around family and ritualistic routine.

Few hours earlier, round the 7 o’clock hour, my husband is restless, getting ready for work, knowing where he’s going to be in relation to the beauty of this day. Familiar with his current state, I am conscious not to poke him with the fact that I’ll be home, enjoying this freedom while he’s unbearably hot in the kitchen, moving from behind the line to orchestrating the line, while serving 800 covers for well deserving fathers this day.

As I hear his motorcycle drift off into the distance, I am reminded of the tennis match I will most likely play again today, like I did yesterday. This match residing solely in my head.

I spent most of the previous day in silence, moving from comfy chairs inside and outside the house, happily devouring to completion chef Gabrielle Hamiltons’ amazing book “Blood Bones and Butter” . She sucked me in quickly and left me, standing on the corner…wanting to hail a cab to her, to find out what’s happened since she finished typing the last page.  While I was reading,  I felt twinges of guilt that I “should” be doing something – obligatory errands, grocery shopping, working on my business, ANYTHING BUT what I find myself doing then and there, but like the snap of a rubber band on my skin, my mind flashes to the moment in “EAT PRAY LOVE” when a frazzled Elizabeth Gilbert attempts the practice of “Dolce Fa Niente” which means ‘The sweetness of doing nothing”.

‘It’s okay to do nothing’, I tell myself.

It doesn’t mean I’m lazy.

Seeing as how I don’t have children as of yet, my weekend does not yet consist of non stop movement and unrest, finding creative ways to tell dad how much we care this fathers day weekend, and instead I am at the whim of my imagination for these 48 hours. I imagine if I did have little ones, I would be spending Saturday knee deep in crayola drawings and sentimental expressions of love and gratitude. As an extreme planner by nature, having a weekend with nothing ‘on the books’ is both unusual and therefore uncomfortable to experience.

So, like a nagging grandmother, reminding me of how lucky I am not to have to walk five miles in the snow to school, the tennis match begins…

“If only I was so lucky to have a day to myself without the children around, I wouldn’t be wasting it sitting around.” as I hear the voices of imaginary significant others who are mamas reminding me how ‘lucky’ I am.

Yes, I know…I have it easy.” is how I imagined myself to respond, while keeping to myself “Does that mean I’m not woman enough, worthy enough to enjoy this time doing what I want?”

Even my husband, who cannot sit still for even a second…is uncomfortable with my lack of plans and I hear him too, in my head, giving me suggestions and ideas of what I can or “should” be doing on this beautiful weekend. Getting the sense that HERE would be the last place he would be if he didn’t have to work. (And it’s true… it is the last place he’d be unless if it was from extreme exhaustion or illness)

Again… I know. I say to him in my mind while rolling my eyes thinking, ‘I’m not you, my love. Unlike you, I enjoy and VALUE the presence of my own company.’

Like a skipping record in my mind, I considered, over and over again, making plans. “Who could I call to hang out with?”, was my uncomfortable mantra.

But like a toddler throwing a tantrum, no matter how many times they yell or cry or pound their hands and feet on the ground, shouting what they want. I remained steadfast in my mental response…

NO. Stay where you are. You’re OKAY doing this today.

Back and forth it went. It would temporarily stop until I’d pick my nose up from my book, haphazardly look at the time, see that two hours passed and then the match would resume.

“You’re lazy. What’s wrong with you? Wasting your day READING. Why aren’t any of your girlfriends calling you? Maybe they don’t want to hang out with YOU, ever think of that?”

And then, repeatedly having to talk myself off from that ledge.

NO, You’re okay where you are.

Today, the match resumed as my own fathers day plans fell through, but today, this match was different, having already finished Gabrielles work of literary art, I am now nearing the end of my plan-less weekend, and in process of savoring these last hours as something to look back on as a pleasant memory.

Except if I were being honest, it wasn’t all pleasant.

That tennis match is something we ALL play in our heads. The “should we/shouldn’t we” game when we go, round after round, looking over our shoulder, wondering what decision to make. Leaving us to feel, whichever our decision was (to plan or not to plan) a bit confused, tired and uneasy, never really achieving peace with either decision.

The way one would feel after a tennis match.

From this experience, I have surmised that the way to tell which voice to listen to is the one that brings you PEACE.

I felt PEACE diving into this book, was totally IN the story she was telling… the reason why hours passed without notice is because in that moment I was at PEACE.

When I didn’t feel peace, I was listening to the other voice – telling me what I “should’ve been doing” or how bad I should feel – in those moments I was aware of every single minute.  Dragging on.

I take this experience with me as I make my next decisions… being more conscious which voice I should listen to. And as a question to ask as you too, play a game of tennis in your mind.

  • How would your life change if you made decisions and listened to the voice inside you that brought you PEACE?
  • How can you be OKAY being where you ARE, no matter what the voices (In your life, or in your head) are saying?

Art of Relaxing

June 29, 2011 in Expectations, Life, Weekend

365: May 25, 2009 by Jessi Hagood


With the 4th of July coming up this weekend, I thought we’d talk about something I’m sure plenty of you deal with (or don’t know how to deal with, is more like it). How to relax.

It’s no surprise to find most of you are the primary do-ers in your relationships. You are the one that makes most things happen. Making plans, coordinating, cleaning, and preparing for whatever and who evers is coming over this holiday weekend. Most likely, what you and your family have planned this weekend will mostly be managed by you. Even if you’re traveling out of town, the coordination most likely goes through your hands. Okay, your restaurant man or woman might want to set the menu for the cookout/BBQ/shin dig that you’re having, but the rest of the details have your name on it. (especially the cleaning up AFTER their rampage into all the pots and pans in the house! Right?)

The 4th of July and many other so called ‘holidays’ are usually just reasons to be stressed out while everyone else relaxes. No wonder why we feel exhausted at the end of our long weekend, we need a vacation from our vacation!

Especially for us ladies, we want to make sure everyone ELSE is having a good time so most of the time we take on way too much so we know it’s all taken care of. Sometimes it’s because we’re neat freaks, Type A personalities that just has to have her hands in everything or bottom line “who else is going to take care of this?”.  Maybe it’s because that’s how some of us were raised, the residual role women took with the house and gatherings…leaving the men to the title of grill master (ESPECIALLY if your Restaurant Man/Woman wants to do all the cooking!) and taking out the trash. (Sounds like a throwback to the 50’s but there are many 20s and 30 somethings that are challenging this belief today, I’d like to believe that has somewhat evolved into sharing more of the load) perhaps? (not?)

Anywho… with the holiday steadily upon us, I wanted to share three ways you might bring some ease and relaxation into your plans this weekend. Allowing you to look back with a sense of peace instead of frustration.There is a reason why they call it the ART of Relaxing… it’s an art to find ways in which relaxing becomes incorporated in your celebrating.

  1. Create a game plan – You might be the unofficial coordinator, but you could be like the coach who directs his team to make that touchdown. The Goal is to have plenty of relaxing with your guests WITH them. The mission is to delegate as many tasks to your team so that it’s evenly dispersed. Think of the tasks that would be finished with four (or six) hands instead of two. With efficient delegating, you might be surprised that the dishes are in the dishwasher AS you clean instead of piled up after the festivities are over. (If there are younger children, you could make it a game where they can be your assistant. And if they help shuck all the corn, etc.. they can get the first piece of pie.)
  2. Tell your guests your goal (to relax)/Ask for help – Maybe it’s not your nature to relax until it’s ALL over. It’s that way for a lot of us. Enlist your family in your mission to take it easy, ask them to remind you of what your goal is so you can take advantage of the valuable time spend with your family and friends. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder to create some great memories. You could make it into a game where they hand you your glass of wine every time they see you busy doing something.
  3. It will be there later, Enjoy the NOW – Yes, you might want to make sure everything is done before you sit down, a make sure  the leftovers are put away, dishes are done before you sit down. (Very common for most of us) It is usually those moments after a meal that are the most gratifying, being thankful for being together, sitting on the back porch watching the sunset, watching the kids light sparklers or taking a dip in the pool with the family. Start telling yourself NOW that it will all get done, tell yourself  now that you give yourself permission to leave it there, that your goal is to have that one moment when you realize you are relaxed, and feeling like all your cares are somewhere else, even for a few minutes or hours and be present in your search for that moment, as you go thru your day.Which one do you think would work best for you? Share with us your thoughts on how you’d like to be more relaxed this holiday weekend.

    Whatever you do, remember you deserve to feel just as comforted, as ‘taken care of’ as your guests INEVITABLY feel during their visit. That while it is your house, your gathering that everyone is enjoying, that YOU have the same reason for being there as everyone else… to RELAX.

    Happy 4th of July Holiday! Here’s to the Art of Relaxing!