Thursday, July 23, 2009

Taking a break

Fifteen years ago fibromyalgia was my worst problem, so I got a book about it - back then that's how you researched things. I read with disbelief that "fibros," who tend to be intense (the book said), need to learn to work 50 minutes and rest 10. What? rest 10 minutes out of every hour? How would I ever get anything done? Then again, if I did relax, would I ever get my nose back to the grindstone?

This came back to me this morning I was lying peacefully on the acupuncture table thinking about how my energy is so good in the morning, and dwindles all day long. Even if I take a couple of hours in the afternoon to read and nap, I'm often lackluster (great word!) in the evening. I wondered, What could I do to make my energy last longer? and into my mind snuck the idea of taking breaks. One of them is about to happen right now.
So I took 20 min on yoga mat, eye pad on eyes to relax them, and little sandbags on my twitchy hands, to encourage stillness (a handmade gift from a friend and yoga teacher). Toward the end of the rest I wanted to stretch, and slowly remembered the pose called cat/cow. I've had trouble with knee and ankles for six months, and had forgotten all about doing any pose that involved them, or pretty much doing any pose but corpse. Being able to do cat/cow made me realize that I am finally back on the fast track, for me. . . . Time for physical therapy.
It's 5:11 - curse the unnecessary accuracy of digital time - it's a little after five, and I am home, feet burning from too much footwork, none of it dancing, and from a depressing, enervating experience at Kohl's, where they have no cardigan sweaters. In fact, I think "In today's modern contemporary world" (as composition students sometimes begin a paper), cardigans are so totally like old lady that I am going to have to go to the thrift store, where they have them by the rack full. I'd much rather shop there for that reason - last year's fashions, yea, last millenium's fashions are waiting for me there, and suit me better than things with all sorts of trim so that you can't put them in the washer. But I digress.

Got home tired from multiple errands but with a single gorgeous pink gladiolia, and had a mishap trying to put it in a vase. It involved spilling a bunch of glass marbles down the garbage disposal. Fortunately, it wasn't running. Also, Tom wasn't in the room. Still, it unnerved me, and I had to sit down and have slightly sweet iced tea and a few White Cheddar Cheezits and the end of a chocolate chip biscotti, which had fallen out of my purse earlier. So there was my second good break of the day, and badly needed, too.

But mostly, the need for breaks is not about working too hard for me - it's about being too intense about my work, and even my play. This is the core of my personality, so I don't mean to malign it. But I did get to remembering with a smile how my Tai Chi teacher once told me to "Chill out." I'd been told that before in other words, but the slang surprised me, coming from a sort of spiritual person.

What, was I taking something too seriously, trying too hard? Well, I suppose. But do you want to know how much good it did to tell me not to do it? About as much good as it would have done if I had told the young mother at Kohl's, "Be kind to your children." She looked like "kind" wasn't in her vocabulary. I don't know how to fix this world, not even one young mother. So it was good to come home to a New Yorker in the mailbox, and go through back to front, the way all normal people do, looking at the cartoons.

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