Tag Archives: relaxation

My Aunt Mamie and the Power of “Flopping”

Jane
Jane

My aunt loved to “flop” in the afternoon.  After eating lunch and taking care of one or two things she needed to do, Mamie would always retire to her bedroom and lie down on her bed for about an hour. First, she would read her daily devotion from a little book she kept by her bed called God Calling. Then, she would write down in her journal her daily record of everything she and her husband, my uncle Jack, had done the day before.  And then, she would either take a little nap or lie there in bed, reading. I guess you could say she knew about the value of meditation long before it became popular with the rest of us!

When things got stressful in her life, she would “flop” more often, maybe once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Her “flopping” time seemed to work almost like a recharging station.  If she felt herself getting stressed or exhausted, she would always take the time to relax, unwind, and breathe.  Nothing could stop her.  She would just announce to all around her:  “I need to go flop!”

Mamie with Lizzie, our first baby

When I was about ten years old and spent time with her one summer for a few months, I at first hated her flopping time because it meant she wasn’t available to do something with me, like going grocery shopping or going to the library or just laughing together about something.   But, as the days went by, I came to love that time of day.  Mamie would flop on her twin bed, and I would flop on Jack’s, andwe would both read or sleep until Mamie was ready to get up.  I suspect I was one of the reasons she needed to flop that summer, but she never made me feel like I was a burden.  We just flopped together.  It was during those afternoons in Mamie’s room that I read all about the history of the FBI and several biographies of famous people.  Sometimes Mamie told me stories about her childhood or I wrote postcards to my family and friends or worked a puzzle book.  All of those memories are pleasant and relaxing and calming to me, even now.

Mamie had a pretty hard life in some ways, but she learned how to deal with her problems in a real practical way.  I’ve never known anyone better at taking care of herself.  She never allowed herself to get too stressed or worried or busy or anything.  She just “flopped” when she needed to, the rest of the world be damned!

I have decided that I need to learn from Mamie.  I think I need to worry less and recharge my engines whenever possible. I need to learn how to “flop.”

For Pity’s Sake, Relax!

Jane

Excuse me if I rant, but I have been thinking a lot lately about how fast my life is moving–and how fast the lives of all my friends are moving–and about how little relaxation time there is in my life–or in theirs.  And here is what I’ve concluded: Americans are crazy, and we are in love with work.  We work and work and work, and we never slow down.  Even when we relax, we’re working.  Take a look at your local YMCA and just watch the testosterone-driven people frantically getting their hour-long daily work-outs completed–and see if you agree with me.

We keep going and we keep going!

I really think that other countries have it way over on us.  At least, they have rituals that write relaxation into the story of their daily lives.  Germans take breaks and go to the local coffee shop and sit and eat a piece of cake with whipped cream (Schlag) on it.  People in India take long breaks in the afternoon to sleep off the heat.  English people have their tea breaks.  What do we have? :  the frantic rush to Starbucks to grab a fancy coffee drink that we don’t even have time to drink before we go to work and work, work, work all day, staying afterwards half the time to finish up some project that has kept us glued to our computer all day, needing coffee to stay awake.

And what about those other rituals that countries have for keeping things in balance on a bigger scale?  Europeans go on vacation for long, leisurely weeks. (Americans take maybe their designated two weeks, at the most–and there have been studies that show that many people don’t even take their allotted vacation time.)   Scandinavian countries have systemized, months-long maternity and paternity leaves.  Our system usually forces us to get right back into work, as soon as possible.

What is wrong with us?

I often reflect how I wish Americans were more thoughtful and introspective about the direction their lives are taking–especially our politicians and leaders–but how can I expect that of anyone, when no one has time to sit and reflect on anything?  There is the subway to catch, the lunch to pack, the kid to pick up from school, the dinner to fix, the soccer game to attend.  And, on and on and on, like little robots on a giant treadmill that keeps showing us the same scenery, over and over.

Keep going and going and going!

 

 

In Praise of Vacations and the Beach

Jane
Thanks to my loving sister, who let us use her beachfront cottage, I am staying at the beach at Emerald Isle this week with my family.  It is too cold to sunbathe.  Too cold to walk on the beach.  Way too cold to swim (although my youngest daughter insists on jumping in every afternoon).  So, it doesn’t sound like much of a vacation.

But it’s heaven.

Here’s my schedule: I wake up with the sunrise in the morning and go out and sit on the deck, watching the ocean, maybe sipping a cup of decaf coffee.  A little bit later, after the family wakes up, I have some breakfast, lovingly prepared by someone other than myself (beach vacations include freedom from cooking!).  Then, I take a morning walk on the beach, stopping every now and then to pick up a shell or pat a passing dog.  When I get back to the cottage, I might read a book for a while or do an acrostic puzzle from the book my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day.  Then, what do you know, it’s time for lunch!  One of the kids is on lunch duty, so I wait to eat what they prepare.  Later in the day, I might sit on the deck for a little longer–or take another walk–depending on my energy.

Josie in the Water

 

Sometimes, I take a nap in the afternoon, listening to the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach and the seagulls flying around, calling to each other.  I’m often hungry here–something about the ocean air!  So I have to be careful about not eating, eating, eating, every spare minute.  I’ve been good so far.

Double Rainbow at the Beach

 

Later in the afternoon, I read my book again–or write–or have another walk.  It’s difficult sometimes to choose!  There are no phones ringing.  No emails to be answered, since I don’t look at them.  No places to go or people to see.

Then, before you know it, it’s time for dinner, once again prepared by someone else, followed by a board game with everyone or, perhaps, a rented movie on the t.v., with popcorn.  Then, time to go out on the deck and look at the stars before climbing into bed.

There are ways to spend lots of money down here.  We could go go-carting or eat at fancy seafood restaurants or take a ferry over to Ocracoke Island for the day.  But why bother?  We’ve got the ocean out our front door, carrying away months and months of stress each morning and lulling us to sleep each night.  Oh, and did I mention the moon over the ocean at night?

I recommend it to all women over 50!