Arriving at work on a Monday morning recently, I felt a bit more energized than usual.
Trying to figure out what made this Monday different, one thing was that I’d had a particularly quiet weekend. Friday night we had the pleasure of a sleepover with our 6-year-old granddaughter. That doesn’t typically translate to quiet time, but on this occasion it did.
We ate pizza together, played a couple games, then settled back to snuggle and watch a movie. I think she sensed that I was tired, and she seemed very content to chill out with Grandma. (I should mention that she is a middle child, so not having to compete for an adult’s attention might have been part of it.)
Saturday morning, we had pancakes together (thanks, Grandpa!) and eased into our day. We played lots of cards, eight games of Trouble, and then another game she got for Christmas.
It was all good fun, and we were still in our pajamas. She wanted more games, and I said, “Let’s have a little quiet time.” I was sure this would be the end of relaxing. Instead, she said, “OK, Grandma.”
What? I was shocked.
We watched another movie with the sound turned way down and spoke to each other only in whispers. It was simply delightful. After an hour or so I said to her, “Quiet is good sometimes, isn’t it?” She smiled and said, “It is.” ... even surprising herself.
After she left, I was able to finish a great book, and start a new one. My husband and I had a quiet night, and besides a few Sunday chores, had a quiet finish to our weekend. It was a slice of heaven.
I have always enjoyed some quiet time, but I seem to get so little of it. Of course, it’s not always practical. We have a busy life, friends and family and community events we enjoy.
Some are things we should do, and many are things we want to do. But that weekend was a great reminder to me of the importance of quiet in my life.
I’m sure that’s not true for everyone, but for me it is critical that I make it happen.
With every passing year, beginning with the birth of my first child, I’ve gotten better at saying no. It’s an important part of healthy living. We are all invited to a plethora of good things, but that doesn’t mean we have to attend them all.
With the increased use of Facebook and other social media, we are bombarded with invitations – worthy fundraisers, after-work get-togethers, girls’ night out and so much more.
Saying no is something I had to practice. The hardest part of learning to say no was to do it without adding an excuse. “No, thank you” works just fine. If pressed I will respond that I’m just needing some quiet time. But people generally are accepting of a simple “no.”
I know that not everyone is wired the same as I am. Many people are happiest when they’re very busy. For each of us it’s important to find the right balance, the combination of eventful days and down time that keeps our motors running on all cylinders.
This is not a New Year’s resolution, but I was grateful for the gentle reminder of what helps me to function at my best level. I encourage you to do the same.
Happy New Year.
Pat Arter is senior volunteer program director of Region IV Area Agency on Aging in Southwest Michigan. Questions on age or independence services? Call the Info-Line for Aging & Disability at 800-654-2810 or visit www.areaagencyonaging.org. The Generations column appears each Saturday in The Herald-Palladium.