I read a quote posted on social media this morning from an author and “behavioral change” expert I follow, Karen Salmansohn that said “Sit. Breathe. There are 1440 minutes in a day. You can use 3 of them for self care.” I have been challenging myself to do it more – more pauses to breath, to sit on a patio for a few minutes with the cats to listen to the birds and enjoy my flowers, to make a cup of tea, or to read. Simply, more savoring the moment and giving myself permission to pause.
I recall from trips to Europe that there were times in the afternoon when the shops closed and people rested. A riposo (in Italy or siesta in Spain) is a time to break from the summer heat, have a meal, and spend time with family. The English have the lovely tradition of pausing for afternoon tea. In the past that might have been an energy drink or tea at my desk, which is getting up but not really pausing. I am being more intentional about taking a break after working in the morning and early afternoon, before starting my errands or tasks, to take a few moments of quiet rest or stillness. You might still be at work full-time so this sounds impossible, but perhaps it could be to step away from your desk to the break-room area or a picnic table outside. I wonder how the rest of the afternoon might go after a few relaxing minutes?
Over the past few years the invitation to make Sunday the “Lord’s Day” has hit home for me. It was harder to do when working full-time than it has been the past couple of years, but I have been pausing on Sunday to read, journal, pray and reflect or spend time with family. It is not a day for errands, washing clothes or cleaning. In the Chapter 48 of the Rule of St. Benedict, the guidance is to use Sunday for reading. In Jane Tomaine’s book, St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living, we are reminded that Benedict creates a balance of daily activities that are comprised of “work and prayer, study and recreation, rest and activity, time alone and time together”. Taking time for self-care, physical and spiritual, is an important aspect of this balance. Jane reminds us that even St. Benedict allowed a time of rest for the monks, on their beds, after lunch.
Yesterday, after watering the flowers and plants in the landscaping, I paused to rest from the heat but also to enjoy the beauty of the plants flourishing around me. For those of you with school children or grandchildren, the school year has concluded. Days and activities change, days at the pool or evening baseball games are now part of the schedule. How can you find a moment to enjoy the time outside allowing it to restore and nurture you, despite the busy schedule. Of course, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun too!
If I have learned one thing living with cats it is to stretch and take long naps. Even though they are in the house with the air conditioning, they seem to slow down a bit in the summer, savoring the time to rest during the afternoon heat.
I was reminded of the song Summertime this morning when I sat down to write this. I thought you might enjoy a couple of different renditions of the song. Stop for a few minutes, pause and breathe as you listen to one or all of them.
George Gershwin’s Summertime by the All Virginia Orchestra 2014