Friday, February 5, 2010

Disconnect to Recharge

It's now 6 weeks after Christmas!

How goes it? Have you recovered yet, or are you still suffering the effects of weeks and weeks of busyness and very little rest?

The winter months are supposed to be a time for us to sleep more (hence the shorter daylight hours), and rest our bodies, so that we'll be ready for the longer, activity-filled days of spring, summer, and fall. There is, after all, a time for everything. Springtime is the time for planting gardens, summer for tending them, fall for harvesting. Winter is provided to prepare us to do all those things.

The problem is... well, technology. We now have electricity, so that we no longer get up with the sun and go to bed when it sets. In fact, we have all kinds of distractions to keep us up late at night, stressed, and unable to get that much-needed rest and relaxation. The television, the telephone, the computer/internet, cell phones --text messaging, kitchen appliances... there's something interesting on T.V., someone's on the phone, gotta catch up on e-mails, someone's on AIM, there are cookies to bake, projects online...  It's no wonder everyone is over-worked, stressed out, over-tired, and can't relax! What did people used to do before electricity anyway? What would you do if there was no T.V., no computer, no phone... nothing electronic... to capture your attention? Does that concept seem scary, or more like a welcome relief? If you could just take a break from some of those things for a while, think of all the possibilities!

You could:
  • Watch the animals outside your window: birds, squirrels, deer... they provide some great entertainment.
  • Read: Catch up on some classic literature
  • Improve your mind and dexterity with some knitting or juggling
  • Have a meaningful conversation with someone who is actually sitting with you in the same room!
  • Play a board game -- It's good for creative thinking and problem-solving... and it's FUN! Try Scattergories, Balderdash, Loaded Questions, Imaginiff, Chess, Uno, Phase 10... the possibilities are endless.
  • Go to bed early. ("Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," according to Benjamin Franklin)
Try recreating a time before all these distractions came into existence... even just for a weekend. For some inspiration, or if you really need some specific guidelines, try Eras of Elegance website's "Victorian weekend." Here's their introduction with the "rules":  (Enjoy!)
Victorian Weekend Retreat

Too often our modern conveniences and daily routines can create the emotional and spiritual clamor and clutter that snuff out our peace and joy. Every once in a while, try spending one weekend--just two days--enjoying the simple pastimes of 19th century life! Unplug your television, turn off your telephone ringer, and even say goodbye to your computer for a few days! And get your family and friends involved; ask your best friend or dearest sister to try out our weekend schedule with you, and let your children in on the fun! So if you're up for a weekend that will rejuventate the soul and refresh the spirit, keep reading.

Here are the ground rules. First, no television, computer, stereo, Sony playstation, etc. Remember, there were no televisions or computers during the 19th century! Commit yourself for two days not to flip on the tube, check your email, or surf the Web. Hey, at least you can still use electricity. Second, limit your telephone use. Okay, so a few Victorian families had a telephone, but they certainly didn't have their cell phones glued to their ears as they walked through the cobbled streets or picked berries in the field. Of course, we wouldn't want you to miss out on truly important news. So turn off your ringer and the volume of your answering machine, and only check your messages and return crucial phone calls after 9 p.m. (see our schedule). Third, no processed, pre-packaged or microwaved foods. Part of the fun (and perhaps the challenge) this weekend is to try your hand and preparing fresh meals from scratch. Remember, a hundred years ago there were no fast food drive-ins, Chinese takeouts, microwaves, food processors, and the like!

So if you're still game to try our weekend challenge, find a free weekend in the next few weeks (and keep it free). Browse our schedule beforehand, and collect all the items (if any) you will need. At a minimum, find a novel written by your favorite Victorian author; stock up on tea, fresh fruits and vegetables; and find materials for your Victorian craft project. We invite you to make modifications of our schedule and to add your own special touches. For example, if you can find a few couples to join in on the fun, consider spending Saturday evening recreating a Victorian ball or getting together for a 19th century game of cards. Then make sure that you take care of any pressing business on Friday night. If you have bills to pay, or a major project at the office that needs to be finished, do your best to get it done before your weekend starts so you won't have the unnecessary stress.

To see the rest, including a "schedule" for a relaxing weekend, go to

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