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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Restorative Powers of Hibernation

One of the most common questions I get is, “where do you get the energy?” and “where do you find the time?” For those new to Mrs. Lo’s Blog, my time commitments include being a wife, mother, lawyer, running a small business, being a Crew Mom and a Football Mom, and being the Team Mom for the Newburgh Rowing Club, which in and of itself is almost a full time job. The answer is quite simple: I rest. Every day. And then, come winter, I take my Big Rest: I hibernate. Yes, during the months of January and February, I pretty much am the equivalent of a bear in a cave, moving as little as possible.

According to Prevention Magazine, “Rest is a basic human need, like food and sleep and touch. And if we don't give it to ourselves willingly, our bodies find a way to get it anyway--like bingeing or collapsing. Rest is different from sleep. Rest is different from collapsing. Rest is taking a time-out before you collapse.” Rest will restore your energy, repair your body, calm your mind, and help with your concentration. And the cost to you: nothing monetary, you just have to allow yourself this "luxury."

I fully embrace the concept that Rest is a basic human need. Yet how many of us view Rest to be as important as say, food and hydration? We tend to push ourselves harder and further every day, to get in one more chore, one more errand, one more activity for our kids. In an era where it has become a race to see who can do more stuff in one day, I always remember my grandmother’s advice: “a girl needs her nightly beauty sleep, and also her daily beauty rest.”

In a perfect world, there would be someone telling you to Rest. Imagine if you walked through life with a Referee at your side. Your day might go something like this: (Cue that loud Referee's Whistle). What is it Ref, did I foul out? "Jane, you're out of here," the Ref would say. "You've been going all day and you need to rest. Look at you! Up at 5:45 am, doing laundry, making the lunches, taking the kids to school. Then off to the gym for your Boot Camp Workout, then a full day of work. You still have to get dinner on the table and take your kids to soccer, dance, and Basket Weaving Class too!" But Ref, Jane would protest, this is my life. "Too bad, they can eat frozen dinners tonight or you can cash in a car pool chip. Jane, you are out of here, go lie down on the couch for at least 30 minutes!" But alas, there is no built in Referee in our lives, we have to make the call and forces ourselves to Rest.

If you look at Rest as a necessity, and build it into your routine, I promise, you will find you have twice the energy. My favorite rest time is spent in Michael’s “Nest” (he basically covers our living room couch with his clothes, books, pajamas and toys so he never has to leave the couch. We don’t even call it a couch anymore. E.g.: “You lost your keys? Did you try looking in Michael’s Nest?”). He reads his Percy Jackson or other books, and I read a book or my decorating magazines. The “Big Boys” (Anthony and Christian) may or may not be watching sports but Michael and I tune it out and just Rest, snuggled under our Disney blanket. Sometimes we read the same book (he has good taste) together. Sometimes we take a nap. Sometimes we really get Jiggy with it and throw in some Lemonade or hot cocoa. It’s just as important as anything else I do all day.
You have to “allow” yourself to rest daily. Rest does not involve any type of electronics, computer, TV, or phone. That’s not restful. Resting could involve reading a book, writing in your journal, or just praying or meditating.

Then, there is my absolute favorite type of Rest: Hibernation. I used to loathe the changing of the seasons. I missed the sunshine so much and detested being plunged into Darkness. Now, I am delighted with the time change because it brings my favorite times: the Holidays, followed by The Hibernation. Throughout January and February, I do nothing other than the bare minimum required of me. For 10 months of the year, I run around with the kids’ sports, my job, and my community activities, like a chicken with my head cut off. But come January, I chill. I work and take care of my family, but I don’t do any fundraising and I generally get into my pajamas as soon as I get home. I do still row indoors and go to the gym. But my real focus is cooking and baking. Like a Pioneer Woman, I set food aside that will be needed in the Spring.

Crew Season (mid-March to beginning of June) is my crazy time. There is nothing like Spring Crew Season and being a Crew Mom, much less being the Team Mom. It is a physical and spiritual commitment like no other. Being able to go to the deep freezer downstairs and de-frost a tray of Lasagna made during the Hibernation months is a great feeling.

If you think you can’t rest because of your kids, then train your kids to Rest. One of Michael’s favorite activities is Meditation. After meditating one day, Michael said to me, “Mommy, is it possible to have everything you ever wanted?” That, my child, is not really a good thing, I told him, remembering the words of my grandmother: “It’s not good to have all your wishes come true,” she said. “You can’t value health, until you’ve been sick. You can’t value good, until you have experienced evil. And you will never know the value of Rest until you have experienced exhaustion.”

It works for both moms and dads!  So do yourselves a favor, and treat yourself to some daily Rest. And just maybe, you will be so renewed and recharged, you will join me this Winter in the The Hibernation. Have a great day, everyone, and Remember to Count Your Blessings! Mrs. Lo (Photo of Mr. Lo and Michael enjoying some R and R, August 2013)