Learning to Be Still

Reading a book at the beach

>>Reading a book at the beachA few weeks ago my family and I took our annual ski vacation to Colorado. It’s the only holiday memory our kids have ever known, filled with loads of “pow pow” as they call it, and long drives through the Rockies as we make our way to our favorite ski resorts.

On my bucket list for several years, has been a stop at the Glenwood Hot Springs, naturally-fed pools filled with restorative mineral water. Because of the anticipation, I had high hopes of a great family memory. We got there, coaxed our bodies out of ski pants and into bathing suits – and fought logic as we went outside in the snow to the pool.

It didn’t take two minutes to hear expressions of discontent. “I’m bored.” “Play with me.” “What do we do?” My answer, coated in irritation, was “Relax!”. Seriously kids, you’ve been in constant motion, you’ve skied five days straight. Be still. Then it hit me. They don’t really know how.

Anyone who knows us will tell you my husband and I get an “F” for being still. We’ve never been content to have just one 40 hour a week day job. There’s always a project, or 12, a new idea, a concept, an opportunity that just must be fleshed out. This translates to leisure time. We may be dog tired, but if there’s a sight to see, or a festival to attend, we’ll move mountains, or drive through them, to get there.

My training as a TV Producer adds to this. Tell me I have 30 minutes to prepare a meal start to finish, and fold the laundry and clean the living room for guests – and I get a little high from that. Sick, I know.

So what are my children learning from this unquenched desire to seize the moment? I hope they’re getting a bit of our go get ‘em, Carpe Diem, attitude. I want that. But increasingly what I fear they’ll be talking to a therapist about how they don’t know how to sit still. They never had the chance to just chill.

This year – I’m hoping that awareness is half the battle. Since we got back from vacation, I’m trying to leave my phone on the charger and not in my hand while I’m with them. I’m trying to sit down with them more and play games, instead of folding the pile of laundry that’s staring me down.

I realize, for my children to know how to relax, I have to model that behavior. They need to see me putting my feet up and reading a book. They need to see me unplugged. As I teach them, I need to learn that myself. It’s not something that comes natural to me. My instinct is to keep going until my daily “to do list” is scratched off. (My obsession about that is an article for another day.)

So back to the hot springs. It took about an hour, but eventually, we all found our groove. We all enjoyed walking through the warm waters and stretching our legs after days of abuse on the slopes. We all felt better for it.  While the soothing feeling didn’t last forever, the mark it made on my psyche is still there. The other day I told my daughter she should curl up by the fire and read a book on a snow day, and she did! I went to bed the other night with a living room filled with ski gear I hadn’t washed and put away. And you know what I found out? Rome did not burn! Life went on! And the next day, I felt ready to face the world, rather than starved for a little “me” time with my new addiction “This is Us” (have you seen it?)

This month, this year, we at Women AdvaNCe challenge you to do the same. It’s not just for us, it’s for our children, and our communities. We’ll be better people if we build time for relaxing into our routine.

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