July 9, 2014 § 9 Comments
A few things came together in my head this past week and culminated in me bathing every day.
It’s not what you think. Of course I was already bathing every day, in case you’re concerned about my hygiene, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about bathing as an activity for the sheer pleasure of it. All of which means I now bath twice a day, but my evening bath is the pleasurable one.
It started like this. A friend admonished me gently for always mothering everybody around me and not doing anything to nurture myself. “I would,” I retorted, “if I knew what to do.”
It occurred to me that one of the things I love to do is read. My lifelong habit has been to read just before I go to sleep, but these days I find I’m so tired that I read a paragraph or two before the words begin to swim on the page. So I read very little for pleasure and I needed to fix that.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the fact that there is too much stuff in my life. I need less stuff, I’ve decided. I need to simplify, pare back and streamline my life a little. Of course, I didn’t mean my bank account, but it decided to revolt against me and I found myself flat, flat broke. Stoney broke. As broke as broke can be.
And then, as a result of a blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I remembered I had Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Romancing the Ordinary in my bedside table drawer. I’ve dipped into it periodically over the last couple of years, but never read it properly. And I love her approach – that there is simple abundance all around us, if we just pause from time to time to notice it.
So there I was, lying in the bath on Saturday morning, joyfully wallowing in Sarah’s words, when two of her mini-essays converged into one in my mind – one about the need for small rituals in our lives, and another about the joy of bathing. There and then I decided I would bath more. Every day, in fact. And I would bath in the dead time between packing the dishwasher after dinner and when my girls go to bed. That would be my daily ritual. That would be my me time.
So for three or four evenings in a row now, I’ve headed to the bathroom and run a hot bath. For 45 minutes or so, I’ve lain there in the steamy surrounds, absorbed in a book, until the water begins to cool and it’s time for a quick lather, rinse and towel dry. And it may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
Because when I emerge I have washed away the grime of the day both physically and mentally. I am restored. I’m warm. I’m comfortable. I’m relaxed. I’m reading more than I have in ages. And that makes me very, very happy.
And it just goes to show that you don’t need to go to a spa or on a fancy holiday to relax. You don’t have to buy that thing that you think will make you feel better. You don’t have to spend a cent.
You can walk barefoot on the grass, take a long bath, or play in the garden or a park with a small child – and I mean really play. You can borrow books from a library, swap DVDs with friends, eat your office lunch on a bench in the sunshine, take off your shoes and splash in the puddles or squelch through mud. The options are limited only by your imagination.
Opportunities for a little relaxation and fun are all around us, in abundance. All it requires is a little creativity, a little attention, a little thought.