Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Change is as Good as a Rest

I am not working this week or at least I am not seeing children or going in to work--I am on vacation. So, what does this vacation look like for me? I am not traveling--my preferred vacation activity. My husband is experiencing the economic downturn personally and not working so travel seemed unwise. I must say, however, that spending the days at home is lovely, too. We are doing house projects. A change is as good as a rest, my grandmother used to say.

I always feel compelled to reorganize cupboards and drawers and that sort of thing if I stay home on a vacation so, today, my kitchen looks torn apart. One thing kind of leads to another with big cleaning projects. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed at this point when the room I am cleaning looks twelve times worse than it did before I started. Not today. I have faith that the kitchen will look better in the end and this messy middle has not caused me to doubt as it sometimes does. In fact, there has been an almost meditative quality to much of the day. My mind is busy, but lightly as opposed to the intensity of my typical mental day.

I love the work that I do but there is nothing restful about it. Playing with children who have autism is highly focused mental work for me. Part of why today feels restful is simply because it is different from my usual day, as my grandmother suggested. There are other reasons why it feels restful, though. I brought a very low pressure mental attitude to the project. I don't really care if it takes me all week to reorganize this kitchen because I have all week. I have stopped to eat good meals, to dance in my living room when the music compelled, to take a walk with my husband, and I even took a nap this afternoon. I enjoyed the simple tasks of wiping down cupboards, placing things in one place or another and cleaning the vegetable crisper but I also walked away from the project without guilt each time I wanted to do so.

Thinking about what makes an activity feel intense versus relaxed made me wonder about how children experience time with me. If I typically bring an intense mental energy to my work, do the children also feel our time together as intense? Is that bad or good? Should I be mixing intense mental activity with relaxed activity both for myself and for the children--and how would I do that if I wanted to? I think I will just go meditate on that question for a while as I move all my tea to a different shelf in the cupboard.

1 comment:

Dr. Larson Kidd said...

Oh my dear friend Tahirih,
After watching you work for so many years now with children and parents and others, I see your work intensity as fun, effective, relaxed, and intense. What I am really saying is, it is your work, but you work at living your philosophy of joy and play. This is reflected to the children and back to you by the children.
Get back to that kitchen!
dr slk