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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Enjoy a Lazy Day or Two; Enter the 'Whatever World'

What are you doing today? Do you have a full day planned with meetings or kid activities? Or are you going to have a lazy day with nothing much planned?

Just listen to the way we word the questions above. One might infer that it must be good if we fill our days and bad if we do not. Why is that? As a nation of people we push ourselves more than most nations. We take less vacation days and we work more hours per week as time goes on. And while it is true that our days are filled to the brim we often do not feel spiritually full.

Our puritan background explains why we feel uncomfortable acting lazy and do no want to live a life without purpose. But I believe we have taken the meaning of being lazy and doing nothing out of context. The problem with our nation is that we need to spend less time spinning our wheels and more time being spontaneous and less organized.

The very best example I can think of is when my two boys were around the ages 9-12 years old. This was before our lives were jammed packed with soccer tournaments, summer camps and the like. The children were left alone all day except for a few breaks for food and drink. At first, the kids would come running to me, there's nothing to do...we're bored..what can we do. On my better parenting days, I would suggest they PLAY; even better, run along and play. With no more direction than that, off they would go into the 'whatever world.' Soon, the playroom was filled with other neighborhood kids who were also sent out to PLAY and I wish I had placed a hidden camera in the room to witness exactly how they started PLAYING to explain to more parents the value in the unstructured environment.

Of course, sometimes the planned activities are actually easier to do, especially when both parents were working full-time. There certainly were big messes when the kids decided to make mystery smoothies or build a 10' fort in a 12'x 12' room. But these are the memories my boys remember the most now, at the ages of 21 and 23.

As adults, we need to plan days for doing nothing in advance, at least at first. I suggest requesting a few vacation days off and not go anywhere or plan anything. Just like the kids, we will have difficulty figuring out what to do. Above all, we should avoid the regular time fillers. If you tend to always turn on the TV and watch show after show, avoid the TV altogether. If you regularly work on a crossword puzzle or read the paper, save it for a later afternoon break or at the cocktail hour. The point of this exercise is to break out of your mold and really do something spontaneous and perhaps surprisingly more memorable.

True story: In our old house in the Arcadia area where the trees and landscaping is lush, several times Bill and me (Mom: correct grammar, right?) would turn on the outdoor speakers and put on some of our favorite music and start clipping limbs and trimming trees. Before you knew it, we had transformed the whole backyard and it looked so good. We would "reward" ourselves with a big grilled steak and sit out at the outdoor table and enjoy our landscaping efforts. It was not a planned event; we never said, today we are going to work on the backyard. Rather, it just happened because one of us would start some project and the other partner jumped in to help. We both remember those afternoons fondly.

I have often heard people discuss the impromptu party that happened with friends and they define it as "the best party they ever threw". Why is this type so much better than the planned party with written invitations and made ahead appetizers?

We owe it to ourselves to spend more time in the 'whatever world', whatever that means to you. I promise you it will be spiritually rewarding. It could be productive and stimulating. And whatever happens, it most probably will be memorable. So, go ahead, plan a day or two of nothing and see where it takes you!

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Blogger Casey said...

I like the sound of that, just doing whatever. It rarely happens around here since the kids haven't learned to entertain themselves yet so we need structure.

January 27, 2009 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

I love that thought. Can I set something up so you can talk to my kids, because I would really, really love a day of nothingness!!!!

January 27, 2009 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Raf said...

thats so true, impromptu events always end up being the most fun ones and most memorable.. urgh here in singapore, everyone feels overplanned and overstretched too, but i'm remarkably relaxed usually but as a result, i sometimes don't get the best grades or the best schools hehe. i hear canadians know how to relax? i always hear american sitcoms referencing canada as a place where people don't do too much or are less stressed, in a jokey manner hehe

February 5, 2009 at 7:30 AM  

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