Recently a friend of mine gave me a writing assignment. He handed me a book entitled 300 Writing Prompts and included a handwritten note implying that this assignment was ‘required’. I was so touched! It was mid-semester when I would have liked nothing better than to run home, ignore the stack of papers on my desk, and get started. However, I am nothing if I am not responsible, so I put it on a shelf with a promise that it would get my attention “after December 15”.
It’s December 21, so here goes!
I am thinking, that if you are willing, this will be a participatory series. From time to time, I will blog with the heading “The Assignment”. You can read the prompt and my post here and then decide whether or not you want to post your own response to the prompt. You can reply in the comments on Word Press or in the comments on Facebook where I typically share blog posts. Ok? Good. Let’s try it.
#1 What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?
Oh, man. I spend a lot of space in this blog writing about my struggle to be still. I am a body in motion, and I like to stay in motion. However, anyone who stays busy will tell you that once in a while they have to pause. They may do it willingly; they may push so hard that their body is eventually forced to crash.
When our children were small (we had three babies within three years!) my husband, seeing the fatigue on my face, would pack everyone up and disappear for a day or two leaving me at home — alone! After days and weeks of nonstop mom-ing, cleaning, cooking, and busy-ing, I would have 24 to 48 hours of solitude. The gift was so precious to me that I quickly learned how to squeeze as much relaxation out of this time as possible. Now that the children have all left the nest, I still observe many of the same strategies whenever I find a day with no commitments:
- If at all possible, I do not drive. During the mom-ing years, I was continuously behind the steering wheel driving someone to school, to practice, to a lesson, to church, or to purchase an item. A lot of life involves hopping in the car and getting somewhere — work, social engagements, the gym, church, etc. The first step to my total relaxation is to promise myself that I will not have to sit in a car. I won’t go anywhere that requires me to drive.
- I refrain from speaking. Seriously. I don’t talk on the phone. I don’t make a coffee date. I hardly speak to my dog. Because I don’t get in my car, I don’t even risk the possibility that I will have to exchange niceties with the pharmacist, the librarian, or a fellow shopper. My days as a teacher involve so. much. talking. Sometimes a girl just needs a break. I still encounter words — I write, I read, I might even watch a favorite movie or Netflix series, but I commit to absolutely no talking.
- I stay in pajamas or yoga pants. I mean I’m not going anywhere or seeing anybody, so….no explanation needed, right?
- I blog. This is actually probably the first stop of the day. Once I get a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea, I head to the keys.
- I do some sort of Bible study/reflection. (Actually, #5 should come before #4, but remember I’m out of practice.) I’ve found over the years that if I start my day by making contact with God’s Word, I am more grounded. It makes sense, but I don’t always do it. In fact, since the advent of the iPad and the iPhone, I have found it very easy to fall into the habit of losing the first hour of my day to checking social media, reading email, and playing Words With Friends. Yeah, you read that correctly, I sometimes lose the first hour of my day. (If this sounds familiar, you might want to check out this YouTube video or this podcast. Both have challenged me to reconsider my behaviors.) I sometimes need the reminder that what I feed my brain first thing in the morning sets my tone for the rest of the day. A day with no commitments can bring me back to those solid routines.
- I eat whatever I feel like eating. Back when the kids were small and my husband took them away for the day, I often planned a special meal– one that was a little too fussy for the kids or that took a little more preparation time than I usually took with three little ones running around. These days my food choices are more about eating whatever I want to eat whenever I am hungry — I am not bound by the clock or by any cultural norms regarding what I should eat at a particular time of day.
- I lose track of time. I don’t have to be anywhere, so I do what I want when I want. I might watch a movie or three movies. I might read a whole book. I might iron for two hours because, guys, I really do like to iron. I might clean the kitchen. I might go for a long walk. I might fall asleep in the middle of the day. I don’t look at the clock. I remove that constraint, and I am automatically more relaxed.
- I probably exercise. Years ago, I would make sure I got in a three to five mile run. These days, I go for a walk or do some yoga. Moving my body is restorative — it makes me feel better.
- I might soak in the tub. This is a luxury that requires nothing more than the time to do it. It soothes my achey joints and slows my RPMs.
- I remind myself to have another day like this soon.
How about you? What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day? As I tell my students, you have no rules. You can write without the constraints of form or style. Don’t worry about whether you spell every word correctly or put each comma in the right place. Share your thoughts freely. I have no judgment waiting for you. Your ways of being lazy are probably not the same as mine — because they are yours. Mine are valuable to me, but yours are equally as valuable to you. One is not better than the other. Be free. See how it feels to write down your thoughts. Share them or don’t share them. I’m giving you an invitation, not a mandate. But if you choose to play along, I promise to read every word. I’m excited to see what happens.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free
300 Writing Prompts. Picadilly, 2017.