Sunday, March 1, 2015

kids and cats know how to relax

I love being a cat guardian: cats are the ultimate relaxers. When they DO something, they do it fast and furious (playing, hunting, wrestling). But that's a small percentage of their days. Mostly, they relax. They lounge in the sun; they unwind under furniture; they sprawl on their favorite pillow; they laze looking out the window; they stretch in the middle of the floor.
When cats are awake, you can tell that they are not tense. They're not adding up their lists of things to DO. They're not worrying about how other cats will perceive them. They're not considering their futures or their pasts. They're simply relaxing into the day as it comes.
These are my cats, Ricki and Luci. Most of the time, they're relaxing on their twin infinity-scratchers!
Kids have the ability to do this, too. Although I'm not a parent, I love watching kids relax. When they sleep, for instance, they completely relax. They even go limp. You can pick them up and move them from one place to another, and they'll never know. Ahhh... to sleep like that again!
But, besides sleeping, kids also intuitively know how to relax and enjoy. If we, the parents, are careful not to schedule their lives too zealously, kids will have time to look up at the clouds, to play out fantasy stories with twigs and flowers, to explore streams and puddles, to spin until they fall down, to jump and run and laugh and live.
When was the last time you went outside just for fun? Have you built a snowman in this lovely winter precipitation? Snow Angels? Snow Cream? Did you watch it snow, entranced by the fluffiness of each snow flake? Did you turn up your face and stick out your tongue to catch a few flakes?

Why not? It's fun! And, it's what it happening right now, whether you like it or not. Why not try to embrace it? Why not take advantage of whatever is going on in your life, regardless of your personal feelings about it, and try to find some way to have fun. Some thing to enjoy. Some small tidbit that might be positive in your life, and not negative.

Better still, find a friend to relax with. It doesn't have to be a "big thing" like going shopping or getting a massage. It can be just hanging out together on your deck, or in her living room, or at Starbucks.
One of my first relaxation habits was to make an effort to go outside every single day, for at least a few minutes, and look up at the sky. When I revealed this habit to some colleagues, they were aghast. "What do you do?" they asked. "Look up at the sky." Pause. Then, they'd ask "And?" My answer: "There is no 'and', I'm just enjoying looking up at the sky." Pause. Another question: "Do you pray?" I responded "Sometimes, but that's not my objective. I just want to look up at the sky." For me, looking up at the sky was a way to "stop and smell the roses." Looking at the sky reminded me that I am, after all, quite a small person in the scheme of the entire world. Looking at the sky helps me feel refreshed and better able to meet the rest of my day.
 I encourage you to think about how you might take some time to relax. It's NOT selfish (more about that later); it's SELF-CARE. Purposeful relaxation can help your body and mind slow down (something I desperately need these days).

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