The Extraordinary Ordinary

Rejoicing in Relaxation

Last week we spent a few days in Dallas with our son and his family. We had been hoping for warmer weather, and Texas obliged us for the first couple of days, enabling us to take some nice walks in their neighborhood.

Our grandson is a walker. He eschewed the stroller a long time ago and doesn’t much care for his tricycle. I having a feeling he’s going to prefer his own two feet for transportation - at least until he gets a set of four wheels and an engine to move him from place to place. 

One afternoon he decided we needed to take a walk to the park and check out the fountains in a large estuary pond. His mom was taking a much needed afternoon rest, so the two of us set out on our own. Connor kept up a steady stream of conversation all the way to the fountains, which I’d estimate is at least 3/4 of a mile. We spent some time discussing the state of disrepair of one of the fountains, a subject he finds endlessly fascinating. We watched the ducks waddle around (the ducks in Texas are HUGE, like everything else in this larger than life state), and counted people going by on bicycles.

About halfway home, I could tell his short legs were getting tired. Heck, MY short legs were getting tired. We had reached the playground opposite their subdivision, so I suggested we take a rest. We found some large boulders and sat down to watch the kids at their games.

Connor scooted up close to me and popped two fingers in his mouth, his little security habit. We sat in silence for about 10 minute, just observing some older boys and girls hanging from the balance bars, riding their bikes around the paths, climbing trees. 

“Isn’t this nice?” Connor said. “We are just relaxing."

“It is SO nice,” I agreed. What could be better than to sit quietly in the sun with a three year old who was happily content to watch the world go by?

Another 15 minutes went by, and I admit I was starting to get a little antsy. That rock was not the most comfortable sitting spot, after all. “Are you ready to head home?” I asked him hopefully.

“Not yet,” he said. “Let’s just keep relaxing."

I shifted my hind quarters around a little bit and got myself as comfortable as possible. Connor started a running commentary about the cars going by, identifying each one as belonging to one or another of his menagerie of stuffed animals. “That’s Ping’s car right there,” he said, pointing to a Jeep Cherokee driving down the street. “Ping is coming home from work. Harvie will be coming soon. And then the scooters will be coming out at 17 o’clock."

We continued our “relaxing” for about 10 more minutes. “Let’s go see Mommy now,” Connor suddenly announced, so I unfolded myself from our relaxing spot and we finished walking home with renewed energy.

As any grandmother will attest, these are the kinds of moments that are as precious as gold. We weren’t doing anything, we didn’t have any books or toys (or ELECTRONICS!) we were just relaxing and enjoying each others company. This is so rare in today’s world when we always feel the impulse to be busy doing something productive or else choose to connect ourselves to outside sources of entertainment. But everything is endlessly fascinating for little kids - the fountain that doesn’t work, the ducks that come begging for bread crumbs, the bigger kids hanging off tree branches and teasing each other. Even the steady stream of cars going by can spark their imagination. 

That’s what I want more of in my life - that willingness to slow down, take it all in, observe and notice and wonder.  I suspect there is a lot of time within my daily routine that I allow to be sucked up by “busy work,” the kind of stuff that’s akin to the mimeographed worksheets our elementary teachers used to hand out when they were sick and tired of us and needed a few minutes to regroup. 

My new goal every day - relax more. I don’t want to plan it, I don’t want to schedule it, I just want to recognize when there is an opportunity to revel in it and not allow myself to succumb to the call of the internet or the laundry or the cooking or the shopping or the bill paying.

Of course, it won’t be quite the same without my little companion by my side, or our nice rock to sit on.

But I’m going to rejoice in it all the same.

How about you? Do you take time to really relax each day?

This Morning

This morning is way too early rising, dark coffee and lots of it, a sweater over summer pajamas that were warm enough when I went to bed but suddenly leave me cold. This morning is curled in a comfy chair lost in story, traveling in time to another world a gifted novelist has spun like silk from his own imagination.

This morning is yoga on a sky-blue mat, unrolled on a whim in the middle of the kitchen floor. This morning is arms reaching to heaven, breath expanding, ribcage spreading, heart opening.

This morning is waiting, waiting for light to overtake this darkness. It is cold-sounding rain, wind ushering out the last of summer and sweeping it impatiently out the door like a guest who overstayed her welcome.


This morning is a rainbow carpet, orange, crimson, gold, a kaleidoscope fallen from the trees and settled for one brief moment under my feet before rushing away to grace another’s.

This day will be steaming hot oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar cinnamon, little dogs in yellow raincoats walking through puddles, Yorkshire Gold tea, thoughtful poems and lovely magazines, a crying kind of movie on DVD, a nap in the big green chair. It will be Chopin nocturnes on the stereo, my fingers playing a ghostly duet in my head even as they slice carrots, potatoes, and onions for slow-cooker soup.

This day will be candles at dusk, cheese and crackers on an small round plate from Portugal. It will be fire in the fireplace, my husband’s hand to hold, a list of our favorite shows to choose from on Tivo. It will be sinking into the warmth of a fragrant bath, clean sheets and a soft blanket, gentle snores and peaceful slumber.

All this loveliness.

And it all starts with This Morning.