Give yourself a break... No, really!
Fridge Philosophy: In our world of constant artificial stimulation, separation is needed more than ever.
Note: Since 2018, I have placed these short quotes on our refrigerator at home to provide subtle hints for successful, thoughtful, and purposeful practices in hopes my teens would internalize them. Along the way, I found them helpful in my own life.
John Lubbock was a baron, worked in his family company as a banker and made significant contributions in archaeology and biology.
By Vince Wetzel
The time standards we know today were essentially created with the advent of the modern clock in the 14th century, creating 86,400 seconds in a day and 525,600 minutes in a calendar year.
Yet, why do our lives seem to be moving faster?
Recently, I’ve taken on additional work responsibilities, which has meant more thought and process on my daily tasks and quarterly goals. Meanwhile, with Lose Yourself’s release in less than five months, my non-career tasks have also jumped. I am at peak capacity. As I write this, my list of tasks to complete is the length of a grocery receipt.
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Like many, I’ve found myself in a moment when my life’s snapshot is the Outlook Calendar. My life is defined by “What’s Next?” and as work becomes more virtual, the mental breaks that come from a walk to the conference room or the car ride form one meeting to the next are eliminated. The obligations of daily life dominate us.
But what about the obligation to ourselves?
Humans aren’t meant to be widgets and task masters. We need time for our brains to look beyond the job at hand. We need the opportunity to gain perspective and be a part of life, instead of being a slave to it.
Sometimes, we just need rest. Like last month’s Fridge Philosophy, we need to look up and take in the world in front of us in its natural state. We need to take a breath and take in the world within us, listen to our breathing and practice letting go of the anxiety, pressure, and expectation that, like our schedule, can stack like tetris cubes. (See Benefits of Rest and How to Unplug in a Busy World)
I’ve found some easy ways to be more mindful. I’ve found a 15-minute meditation series on YouTube that starts with five minutes of guiding words that helps focus breathing and get into a mindset of mindfulness, followed by 10 minutes of meditative music and nature sounds. I admit, I have fallen asleep, but it shows the relaxation it can bring.
I’ve also taken on walking meditations. There’s a deep-water channel behind my house and a levee where folks take strolls every day. I’ve found that these walking meditations are restorative. Though I’m not napping, I’m conscious of breath, the world around me, and my thoughts, both helpful and harmful. These walks help me to realize that I can let go of the things that don’t matter and I can double down on the things that do.
For the last six years, I’ve made a ritual of waking up on Sunday mornings and read daily philosophies and ritualistic meditations, along with books from the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu and Thich Nhat Tu while also thinking through things that went well and areas of needed improvement. A good practice of self-reflection helps me to be honest about myself and how I’m acting in my relationships and in the world. (See: Why is Spirituality Important)
The key is intention. When we’re stressed and worn down by factors such as work and life, it’s easy to sit back and let the environment wash over you. Put on the latest hot Netflix show and escape into another world. I do this. Sometimes, you just want to be. As I’ve also found, being intentional and aware of you in the moment - your stresses, your actions, your anxieties, your milestones, and your celebrations - moves us forward and toward something greater than just being. It’s to a place of fulfillment.
So, Rest! Be intentional about it and bring in the wonders of life
Side of Mustard: Remembering Wookie
It has been a tough week in the Wetzel household. One of the inevitabilities of welcoming a pet into your life, is that someday you will have to say goodbye.
Wookie came into our lives twelve years ago. I remember standing at the steps of the California Capitol when a friend of mine said her Yorkie had a litter of puppies and she had one who still needed a home.
I texted my wife.
What do you think about getting a puppy?
Her answer: I’m not opposed.
From there, we had the conversation families have. More responsibilities. Added costs. The house would never be the same again.
And it wasn’t. Wookie stole socks. He barked at anything that came within his line of sight in the front window. Birds and squirrels were his nemesis. Each time the sliding door attempted to open, he rushed to the door to be outside. He didn’t like light reflections on the ceiling. Flies scared the crap out of him.
But he also would lay on your lap while you’d watch sports or television at night. When the garage opened, he ran to the door in anticipation of your arrival. He offered unconditional love and we were blessed to have that in our lives for 12 years ago.
In the last year, he'd slowed. And at the end, there was a point when we knew it was time. Making that final decision, though, is the definition of a painful choice. I can’t dwell too much on it. It’s still too raw. But writing about him and the good times provides me comfort. These memories reside in my heart.
Saying goodbye is so tough, but it’s also a recognition of the impact a pet has on our lives. We will forever be grateful to Wookie for his love and affection and always remember the joy he brought to us.