As the holidays winded to a close I was reminded of how un-zen-like we can become when we are tossed into a medley of the most stressful and emotional scenarios known on the planet- aka the family reunion. While family time is great, and I’d adore more of it without hesitation, the contrast of traveling and being on your own and then being thrown into the same situations as you were in middle school is, to say the least, disheveling. I found myself banging on the bathroom door with the same whiney voice as a decade ago, “hurry up!!!!!” Sharing a bed with a sibling after a decade of not doing so can be the perfect recipe for no sleep as you stay up giggling and sharing stories, which is fun but leaves you red-eyed and useless the following morning. Not to mention the literally cornucopia of food around the holidays means that I’m always feeling like my jeans are shrinking and yet…another cookie couldn’t hurt! With all of this piled on top of last minute shopping, cleaning for visiting relatives and learning to fit back into the old pecking order, one is left in a very un-relaxed, but gleeful, state.
Here is how to get your zen back, or at least this is how I got my chi back aligned with the stars. First, I got some of those super colorful and probably useless face masks that makes you feel like you are doing something useful for your skin while really all it does is dry it out and make it itchy. Nevertheless, they make you feel like you are pampering yourself, which is sort of the opposite of Buddhism when you think about it. Secondly, I applied said mask while taking a bubble bath, which is something I enjoy when the tub is in America, and not in China where I would never immerse my body in the water. Then I read a book but really my mind wanders while I continue to turn pages and then I realize I haven’t even been reading so I flip back and spend the entire time in the tub trying to find where I left off in the book.
Aside from face masks and bubble baths, I also tried to relax by doing an old past time of mine- yoga. But, since my waist as gained a bit of a cushion around the equator, touching my toes only served to make me feel like vomiting. Unless you are bulimic, then vomiting probably isn’t relaxing to you. I scratched yoga off my list and decided to go jogging. Then I scratched jogging off my list because with all the company visiting the house my running shoes were nowhere to be found. Sigh of relief. Exercise is off the list entirely without shoes, you’ll understand.
The only thing left was manual labor, which many of you probably think is the opposite of relaxing. However, doing something with your hands to create something tangible and good turns out to be a very zen activity. I helped my father and uncle build an awesome deck on the back of the house and didn’t lose a single appendage in the process. We spent half the time hanging a tarp to build under (this is Washington state—meaning it literally never stops raining) but we completed the project and I must say that I now appreciate deck builders more than I appreciate anyone working in an office. Guess I should have paid attention in math class after all. It turns out it is all relevant!
So, in the end I found my relaxation in carpentry, I’m perfectly fine suggesting you try this at home, but if you lose any metatarsals, don’t complain to me! I’m just your post-holiday zen master.