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Taking a Break? Not Sure I Know How

Published in ChicagoNow, August 14, 2014 (Cartoon by Marcia Liss)

I fear I have lost the capacity to relax and “do nothing.” After many years of constant chaos raising three kids, going back to school to earn a Master’s, and founding and directing a preschool, I totally retired a year ago. So, what have I done for the past year? Well, I started writing this blog for ChicagoNow.

And I love it. I absolutely love writing. But why can’t I step back occasionally and sit down to read a good book? I do read a lot, but it’s always part of multitasking. I read while exercising and getting manicures. I read while waiting in the car to pick up my grandkids for an after-school appointment. But just sit down and read? Never.

August 15 is something called Relaxation Day. Prompting me to ask myself, what will I do to relax? My first move is to check my calendar to see if I have time to schedule relaxing. What’s wrong with that picture?

But wait. I did take a break. In fact, my husband and I recently took an 11-day vacation to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. It was our first real vacation since 2008. Well, that’s not exactly true. We did take two of our kids’ families (5 grandkids ages 3 to 8) to Disney World in 2011, but no one would call that taking a break.

Our recent trip was kind of a break in that we got far away from the everyday stresses of life and saw some amazing things. But we tried to pack so much into this trip that there wasn’t much time just to kick back and relax (unless you count the hours spent on planes and trains). It was a fascinating trip and a great experience, but not really a break from the frantic pace of our lives.

Most of our other “vacations” are more like 24-hour drive-throughs to see my mother in Detroit, my daughter’s family in Indianapolis, and my son’s family in Boston. I love seeing all of these loved ones and playing with my out-of-town grandkids, but a break? Hardly.

I wrote in an earlier blog post about the 1973 movie that captured the imagination of women my age, A Brief Vacation. In it, the beleaguered wife and mother had to go to a TB sanatorium and… do nothing. Just take care of herself. Now that’s what I call taking a break! In that post, just having returned from an amazing trip, I waxed nostalgic about how happy I was to be home. Now, a mere month later, I am writing about taking a break. I guess the kind of break I crave is allowing myself to step out of the daily grind from time to time and do… nothing.

This assignment for ChicagoNow’s new weekly series, This Blogger’s Life, was perfect for me. It made me ponder what it means for me to “take a break.” And to ask myself why it is so hard for me to do it. I’ll be thinking about that on Relaxation Day. Wait a minute… that’s hardly relaxing.


by Laurie Levy
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