“You’re not late! You don’t need to run…or is that just a burst of energy?” my acupuncturist asks as he heads from his home to his connected office and I trot down the driveway. I smile and am actually not quite sure of the answer. Promptness is important to me; I don’t like to be even a few minutes late, as I see promptness as a simple way to show respect, and I want to grab every opportunity to do this. Also his driveway is a hill and it’s fun to trot down it. So which motivation drives my jog? Not clear.
It is the same when I am the practitioner. “You do’t have to run for us!” the couple exclaims as I pace quickly down the hall to my office where they are waiting. “Oh yes, I do!” I answer. Again, they are there on time; I want to return the courtesy, and also because a lot of my work day involves sitting, I like to move, and move quickly, in between.
On days off, it is a must to move a lot: Zumba, biking, swimming, anything that enables me to return to the focus of sitting that I so enjoy during my work time.
But would I trot to appointments if I allowed myself more time and wasn’t feeling pressed? That is the question.
We New Englanders have chosen to live in a part of the world where we are sometimes afforded the odd day to chill due to the kindness of our weather systems. With the first storm of the New Year, and the accompanying Big Chill, like many others, I screeched into low gear. For me this meant baking banana bread, making squash apple soup, and making a fire in the wood stove. How freaking cozy is that? I was granted the extra gift of my nineteen year old daughter with two best buddies being home so there was also the treat of their presence, laughter and the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies they were inspired to create in the kitchen.
I breathed deeply, relaxing and appreciating the complete lack of pressure the day granted. With so many cancellations and the imperative to keep off the roads, there was strong endorsement to completely downshift and remove all expectations. Our friends in southern states are rarely, if ever, given this opportunity to so thoroughly enjoy the delights of a snow day. There is even the promise of some shoveling exertion or snow shoeing to enjoy outdoors the next day.
I reflected back on the comments of my clients and acupuncturist, and wondered how to bottle some of this pure essence of fleeting down time into the rest of my life. There is no replacement for this kind of unplanned mini vacation, but there is every reason to create this level of contentment and space. I realize that it involves some discipline. I am awake early enough. That is not the issue. Although my internal clock does seem to reset to a later start time in winter, it is the rare day that I sleep later than 6 am. That should really be plenty of time to tend to the critters, my breakfast, my email, and something reasonably clean to wear. I need to resist the other chores that call, or to really delve too deeply into the email vortex. Perhaps I need to just sit and recall the feeling that a true snow day evokes. If I can picture the snow quietly blanketing the roads, the bushes and world around, I can also smell the bread baking, the fire burning, and hear the burst of laughter in response to an SNL rerun or the creaking of the heating system as it brings warmth to the den. Let us leave for the moment the hairball I witnessed being produced, or the freezing of nostril hair when taking the dog out for a spin.
If I can pocket just a piece of the Snow Day I am in a position to choose when I trot down the driveway because I want to be on time, or because it is just fun to run.
Usually early riser Meg Stafford, LICSW has a private psychotherapy practice and can be reached at Megstaf@aim.com