Rest By Any Other Name

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I’ve been busy. (“Ha ha,” you say. “Tell me something new.”)

Seriously, there is something new here. I have a lot going on, yes. But I also have this emerging core value I’ve been attending to. I haven’t found a just-right word for it yet, but self-regard comes close. It’s a familiar state of being, one I’ve honed for years now. And even though I genuinely feel such things as self-respect, compassion for my own shortcomings, and deservingness, my behavior doesn’t always align. I often “dis”-regard my own needs in light of an abundance of things to do and people to serve.

And so I get tired. Exhausted, sometimes.

Earlier this year, I decided something has to give. And the answer, I knew then and know still, is not to simply do less. It has more to do with the quality with which I carry myself through life than the length of my to-do list. It has little to do with the amount of hours I sleep and is more about what I do with the hours I’m awake. Regard for my own needs is paramount if I am going to truly contribute in this life.

In the last week, a friend (who knows of this new pursuit), has prefaced a number of statements with “If you’re not resting …” Each time I heard or read those words, I had a visceral reaction. I wanted to shout: “Of course I’m not resting, I’m busy.” Or, “I don’t need to rest – I’m energized.” At the same time I was thinking these thoughts, I was carefully managing my energy. Despite a packed work schedule, in the last three days I’ve made time for exercise, fun visits with friends, a great book, a good movie and a weekday lunch with Arthur.

After examining my reaction to my friend’s implication that I needed “rest,” I understood it. It’s the word, and what the word connotes to me.

Resting takes many forms of course. Some rest on the sofa while others rest on the dance floor. We can rest in motion, or rest … errr … at rest. Mental rest is different from physical rest. In my analysis of why the word itself produces such a reaction in me, I realized that I judge rest. In the crazy way I have it wired, some is deserved, some not. Some is for sissies, and some is to be savored like fine wine. Even the dictionary definition of rest seems polarized. Descriptions like “Death,” and  “To lie unfarmed,” sit beside “A place to stop and relax” and “Freedom from anxiety.”

How do you view rest? Is it an essential chore, or a delicious and deserved reward? How do you practice rest? Do you crash exhausted or plan the things that uniquely refresh you?

I’ve reframed my point of view on rest. Does yours need a reset too?

Looking for Fun

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

It’s my guess that even the most lighthearted of you would agree that life on planet earth can be a little heavy at times. And I’ve grown to learn that we have to balance that with heaviness with light. There are many ways to lighten the load. One of them is to have fun.

Almost a year ago, I shared with a friend that I had a goal to have more fun. She asked me what kinds of things were fun for me, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble. It was hard for me to think of any.

Now I have to add a caveat here. The dictionary includes “enjoyment” in the definition of fun. I see them as different. I lead a happy life, and there are many, many things I enjoy. It’s just that most don’t have that quality of light frivolity that defines the essence of fun. For me, fun does not have to be funny, but it has to be light. 

So I’ve been searching for fun experiences ever since. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’m sharing what I learned here in the hope of sparking the same quest in you, if your life could use a lightening of the load.

Here’s what I learned about fun.

  • Fun requires connection – with another person, a group, or the animal companions. I take pleasure in many solitary activities – reading and writing come to mind — and I get great fulfillment from them. Fun requires two or more.
  • Fun (for me) has to represent a break from things I find difficult or tedious. A jigsaw puzzle for example, a source of fun for many, does not make my list. That kind of thing creates stress for me.
  • Fun requires space, not ticking clocks. Some tasks can be fun or stressful, depending on whether there is time. Recently a friend taught me how to bake bread. It was a fun experience in part because we had the time to do it properly. I have built that time into subsequent loaves and have no desire to rush that special activity.
  • Time can be short. A spontaneous romp in the yard with my dogs tops my fun list, and it can be done as stress reliever at just about any time and for as long as I wish.
  • Fun has a characteristic similar to that of flow. Flow, proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is described as complete absorption in what one does. Next time you have fun, notice how your immersion and engagement seem to make the time fly by.

I also learned that fun is very individual when I joined a group of friends for a play that was touted as “hilarious.” Given my quest for fun, it sounded perfect. Not only did I find it silly (not at all funny), I was struck by how many others (most of the people in the theatre) laughed out loud, thoroughly enjoying the performance. I realized (once again) how different we all are. And that’s why your quest for fun, should you take on the challenge I’m offering, will be as unique as you are.

Have fun.

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
–Simon and Garfunkel