“A productive day.”
This is the last line in a haiku I saw recently about relaxation and the writer, Laura Lee Bond, feeling the dandelions on a sunny day outside. While it may seem like an odd choice to end a poem like this talking about productivity, I completely get it.
Most everyone around me (including myself) is currently struggling with the concept of getting back to being productive and what that means today. We’ve spent three years reimagining what that looks like and now that many have gotten a taste for working from home and the different kind of community that brings, we’re not quite ready to let that go. All the busy-making distractions of the world are calling, but our answer is not as simple today as it once was.
Somewhere along the way we’ve learned that the more our work lives and home lives have blended, the more intentional we have to be about our downtime. Getting the rest you need is less likely to “just happen” — now you have to mean it.
The Danish treat this as a philosophy to live by. Their concepts of hygge (relaxing and enjoying life’s quiet pleasures) and Lykke (literally, “happiness”) combine to make Denmark one of the best examples of work-life harmony, equality and general health. In our stressed-out society, we can learn a lot from these ideas.
That’s where breathing easy comes in. As Tricia Hersey, founder of the Nap Ministry and author of Rest Is Resistance says it, resting is about more than naps. Among other things, rest can be “extra time while bathing…taking a leisurely walk…dancing…not returning an email immediately…setting healthy boundaries.” Anything that rejects urgency and helps ease an overwhelmed body or mind can be considered restful.
So let’s take our time, explore a few ideas and see how we can help make rest a reality for ourselves and for those around us.
A Walk In the Woods
Let’s focus on one of the simplest things: walking. Most of us do it every day, but how often are you intentional about it?
Author Andrew McCarthy says that “walking is the worst-kept secret I know. Its rewards hide under every step.” When he talks about walking, it’s not just a process of getting from one place to another. For him, a good walk is a ramble and a restful experience. It’s not only a means to an end, it’s an event in itself. Walking engages the body and soothes the soul.
While you can take a walk anytime, and wearing whatever you’ve got on, it always helps to be prepared — to be intentional. This is what I call “Prepare-Ware,” in that the right clothes can set you up to focus on what you’re doing and enjoy it. For example, a moisture-wicking long sleeve tee makes for an easy walk in the sun, the ever-popular shacket transitions easily to most kinds of weather, a soft shell vest acts as a light layer offering extra warmth and more pockets and a solid beanie is always handy to have.
Love the Sun Again
These days it’s hard not to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with that big bright object in the daytime sky — the warmth of the sun feels wonderful and always helps me breathe a little easier, but I also know that too much sun will hurt my skin.
Sunscreen maker Supergoop found a way to combine both feelings into one idea, re-imagining SPF (normally the measure of protection against the sun’s rays) as “Solar-Powered Freedom” and embracing both the love of the sun and our need to protect against its more harmful effects.
Along these same lines, another way to plan ahead and get ready to spend some quality time in the sun is to invest in some UV Protective clothing. Similar to sunscreen, fabrics can be treated to protect against ultraviolet rays. Look for a UPF rating in shirts and hats to see how protective that piece of clothing will be when worn.
The Daybreak shirt is available with short or long sleeves, and with a UPF rating of 30 it prevents most UV rays from reaching the skin. Originally envisioned as a fishing shirt, today it can apply to just about anyone who’s planning to relax outside. Consider it your adventure shirt, wherever your adventures take you.
When we talk about feeling rested, comfort is often at the top of the list. In our new understanding, comfort relates not only to a tactile sensation but even more broadly to how we feel about the choices we make. Another way to relieve some stress about your impact on the world is to wear clothes that you know are made with purpose.
Allmade is a brand known for its sustainable mission, and Allmade t-shirts are undeniably comfortable, while they’re made with a constant focus on ethical sourcing. The Re-Fleece hoodie and Re-Compete fleece are built for extra warmth and comfort while they’re made from 100% recycled materials for that added sense that you can rest easy knowing you’re wearing something that’s better for the world.
Getting the rest you need is not always as easy as it should be. We’re all struggling and we’re often exhausted by the many demands that compete for our attention every day. I bet you’re feeling a little of that even now, as you read this and consider what’s next in your day.
So let me leave you with this. Tell your boss, tell your friends, tell your family that Vicki says you need some rest. Tell them all that she says it’s ok to not pick up the phone, not scroll your social media feed, not take on the next task while your plate is still full. Tell them that she wants you to be intentional and to rest like you mean it.
And once you’ve told them — go do that. I hope that whatever your rest looks like, you get plenty of those “productive” restful days before we meet again.
Until then…rest easy and make some dandelion crowns.
NOTE ABOUT THE BANNER ARTWORK IMAGES (Left to Right)
- Ava Bitz, photographer, artist and maker of dandelion crowns.
- Ava, resting and daydreaming on a carpet of dandelions, photographed by Holly Bitz.
- (top image) Haiku and artwork by Laura Lee Bond, poet and dreamer.
- (bottom image) Happy Face message found along the Burke-Gilman Trail, Seattle, WA. Discovered and photographed by Vicki Ostrom, 5.21.2023.
- Fetching photographic portrait of Axel by Ava. Axel is sporting a custom dandelion crown handcrafted by Ava.