Though our hectic schedules usually keep us from even contemplating a Sunday drive, springtime in Texas beckons us to head out into the Hill Country to breathe in the beauty of the Wildflower explosion. Bluebonnets and paintbrushes coupled with square-bud primrose and winecups create a bloomin’ bonanza on hillsides, in fields, and in ditches. How could we possibly be too busy to treat ourselves to nature’s visual masterpiece?
So off we went last weekend and a bonus of that country drive was our stop at the Whitlock farm. Now, when I say the word farm, it’s not like the big family dairy that I grew up on where the cows outnumbered the people one hundred to one. Nope, it’s a modest 45-acre hobby farm with some of the friendliest animals you’ll ever meet: Horses, donkeys, sheep, chickens, and a cow.
There was even an adorable Pygmy, for example, who stopped jumping long enough to treat herself to the mineral salt lick. Her name is Ruby and her twin sister is Rose. Meeting them totally made that day trip worthwhile. To watch them frolic and fret and jolt around with joy was an elixir like no other. And when they let me pet them, they actually purred like little kittens; be still my beating heart.
Take Care of Yourself First
So what do the Wildflowers and this Pygmy have to do with today’s topic? They provided down time to de-stress. Time to pamper ourselves with scenery and serenity. Time to leave technology and housework and hurrying and scurrying behind to take a leisurely drive. Time to visit in our vehicle, to get away from it all. And though I was personally feeling the healing effects of the excursion, I wasn’t sure our teenaged boys were . . . until I saw how carefully they coddled those baby chicks and how gently they spoke to those itty-bitty goats, how happily they skipped stones across the pond and how sheepishly they asked if they could please come back again sometime soon.
Bright and early the next morning, with details about this decadent day still fresh on my heart and mind, I headed to the airport en route for Puerto Rico. It was on board the aircraft that I heard these words again for the very first time: In the event of an emergency evacuation, please put your own oxygen mask on first, then assist your small children with theirs.
Put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping your children? Did I hear that correctly? Put your own mask on first. Me first? Well, that just goes against everything that I’ve been taught. Help myself first? That just doesn’t sound right. And to be perfectly candid, it doesn’t feel right, either. And yet, if I hadn’t put gas in the car for that long Sunday drive, how far would we really have gotten?
So my questions for today are these:
What is your oxygen mask? Who puts gas in your tank? Where is your trace mineral salt lick?
It’s going to vary for all of us, the things we choose to help us de-stress and decompress. Maybe it’s an hour on the couch in a vegetative state mindlessly watching House Hunters or Swamp People on cable. Maybe it’s an hour in the kitchen turning those rapidly ripening bananas into a loaf of deliciousness. Or maybe it’s going outside for some fresh air, reading a book by the pool, pulling weeds in the garden, or pedaling around the block on your bike or on foot. It could be a day trip to the countryside or a drive in the other direction to the Seawall in Galveston to enjoy the sand, the sun and the shore. It might even be that shopping soothes you or maybe it’s a manicure or a massage that does the trick.
Whatever the medium, of one thing I’m certain; I’d rather be wildly unwound than going wild with unresolved issues and stress. Relaxation techniques help us manage those unpleasantries to help us maintain our mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing so that we can be more available to ourselves, our family, our friends, and our colleagues. So spring into action and go wild with wellness. Find that person, place, or experience to serve as your Calgon Moment and let yourself be taken away regularly to that safe and stress-free place where you can relax, refresh, and rejuvenate. Enjoy being wild and well.
About the Author
A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends. Check out Barbara’s uplifting blog, Corner on Character, to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.