To Rest

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  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    How interesting to pop up with the word rest today. We are here at this gorgeous hotel in Dollywood and have decided that today will be a rest day. We went to the park yesterday and will meet my brother here tomorrow, but both Babs and I looked at each other and said why don’t we just luxuriate in the spaces they have provided here. The hotel is set up with lots of nooks to just sit and relax or chat by fires.
    I think that is what I have become more comfortable with these days- listening to my inner self and stopping to take a break. We both commented yesterday on how nice it is to travel with no time restrictions. If we are tired we stop- if we see something interesting we can adjust the plan and take advantage of it.
    Your meditation sessions are another moment of rest I have grown into. My younger self could never turn off the mind racing through all the to-do’s. To just sit quietly is such something that restores my balance, eases my aggravations and lets me feel truly rejuvenated.
    I think that the word rest can sometimes be coupled with a negative connotation. I think of phrases like “Do you need a rest?” “Finish the rest of your dinner.”, what will the rest of you do while someone else does the good stuff? Even “Rest in Peace” – it’s over – you are done!
    Rest kind of was the leftover or moment of failure.
    We have a friend who is a Monk and he tells us that the Monk’s schedule in what they call a “Desert Day”. Since a lot of a Monks day is devoted to inner work- prayer and analyzing scripture
    A “Desert Day” gives them the freedom to give their mind a rest. We now will declare “Desert Days” at home after a very busy period. It’s a gift to ourselves. I value it immensely and know that if I give myself those rest days or rest moments I will be much more enjoyable to be around.

  • Linda Samuels

    I love what Kathy wrote about the many ways to view “rest.” It is especially interesting to note the numerous negative connotations embedded in this four-letter word.

    Growing up, rest was something I never liked doing. As the youngest, I was always tasked to sleep before everyone else. My siblings and parents were still awake, and I had that sense I would miss something fun, interesting, or age-inappropriate. Even in kindergarten, I couldn’t stand “rest time” on those stinky floor mats. Those seemed more like a punishment and a beneficial experience.

    But as Kathy said, I appreciate and seek out the quiet at this juncture in life. As someone who always was on the go, I like NOT doing that constantly. It’s not that I don’t ‘go’ at all. I do. However, I am hyperaware of how much restorative time I need after periods of activity. And regularly, I intentionally design my days to mix work with rest. I’m not talking about naps, but instead, times of the day to do less.

    When the kids were growing up, we’d have periodic “blob days.” On those days, we stayed in our PJs, indulged in movie-watching, snuggled on the couch, and did not go outside. We ate what we wanted, which included more sweets and salty snacks than typical, and didn’t even consider doing anything productive or intellectually engaging. Maybe we’d play a board game, but at times, even that was out of the “blob day” boundaries. And because we named the day, we could suspend all guilt about “wasting time.” I have fond memories of those days. Our kiddos have continued it when needed, as have Steve and I. They are infrequent and so treasured.

    I no longer feel apologetic for needing space and quiet. I’ve grown into wanting more of this, and it feels luxurious. This is huge for someone from a family of accomplishers and doers. Yet even my mom, who we used to joke about sleeping with her eyes open (and maximizing every minute,) came to appreciate rest and a slower pace in her later years. Watching her admit that it felt good to nap and NOT be doing something all the time was quite something. I took that to heart and recognized I wanted to embrace that philosophy before I was 90.

    Life is beautiful and heart-wrenching. Rest helps ground me so I can navigate the highs, lows, and everything in between.

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    I love the name “Blob Days”! It is a much better title for an R & R day than the monks “Desert Days”. I have two nephews who love coming home because they can have PJ days where they never get dressed.
    Babs and I were discussing this topic of rest and she pointed out that rest is not something very valued in American Culture. She pointed out that speed is valued- fast food, jiffy lubes, drive-thru everything, fast passes, etc. Coming from the teaching workplace, we never had more than 20 minutes to scarf down lunch. We reminisced about how it took us a few days when visiting Europe to adjust to the fact that everything closed from 12 to 3 for rest. A much more civilized way of going through the day.

  • Kathleen Ellis

    Thanks Kathy and Linda for your insights on this second four letter word. I never realized how many negative definitions we give to this word! I’m sitting in my favorite chair resting, and contemplating my forever conflicted relationship with the whole idea. As someone who needed a lot of rest as a child (shy introvert troubled sleeper), once I became an adult I decided the only way to escape my problems we resting as little as possible. Of course this was ill advised. At some point I realized that some balance was a good thing, and that’s been a big goal of mine for some years now–I mean I can really get into resting!

    The line from Whyte’s poem that jumped out at me, that “rest makes us someone we would like to remember,” started me thinking more seriously about being able to “rest” in who I really am, to pay more attention to accepting that this is what home is. I want to add this definition to my other uses of resting, which we all need to cultivate in order to survive our culture’s mindless marketing of driving toward success, with an endless list of accomplishments as a life goal. A yoga teacher friend once told me that resting quietly at the end of a session is when all the benefits of a strenuous class get integrated. Rest, meditation, alchemy.

  • Linda Samuels

    Kathleen- I love all that you shared and how you were ‘resting’ in your favorite chair as you wrote your response. I felt that. My favorite part of yoga class IS the end, when we rest after moving, breathing, and stretching our bodies and minds. When I open my eyes, everything makes more sense, and feels at ease. Alchemy is a wonderful word to describe that state of transformation.

  • Sarah Lipscomb

    Rest with a baby is ever-elusive.

    Rest before a baby was also difficult to attain, but that was my own fault. Before I got pregnant, I didn’t think of resting as recharging or taking care of myself. I thought it was laziness. Never if anyone else was resting or napping or doing self-care. Just if I did it. What a crazy standard to hold myself to, right? But I kept busy because it felt like I was being productive and I didn’t want to be doing “nothing.” So, naturally I burnt myself out and then found out I was pregnant and literally had to listen to my body when it said we needed rest.

    Rest became my favorite hobby. The thing I looked forward to doing daily because 1) I was so freakin tired and 2) it was the easiest thing I could do to take care of the human I was growing. And I learned that in order to take care of her, I had to take care of me too. So if rest is good for her, it’s good for me.

    So I learned to rest, even if the places where I rested didn’t feel like home. Then we found our home and I went into hyper-drive trying to settle in and get everything “just so” so I could finally relax and rest here in this place I wanted to feel comfortable. Yet again, my body intervened and told me we needed to take a beat and actually rest. So, I did. I reminded myself that not getting everything done is okay. Rest is necessary. I am my best me when I rest. So, again, I am practicing the art of rest, but it feels better this time. Like I’m settling into something bigger. Resting more fully then I’ve rested before.

    As we are quickly approaching toddlerhood (I still don’t know how this has happened already), I am increasingly more exhausted just trying to keep this girl alive. It is the most fun I have ever had. But it is also the most tired I’ve ever been. And the most I’ve ever appreciated true rest.

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