fencer isolated on a dark backgroundWhen you are a caregiver, people tell you take care of yourself. You hear it so often that you think you might fight the urge to scream the next time you hear it. You are also told to relax and be less stressed. This is good advice for anyone but it isn’t always easy to follow.


Some people go so far as to offer suggestions for relaxing and taking time for yourself. The challenge is that some things, like getting a massage or going on vacation, cost quite a bit. Drinking isn’t a good habit to start. Walking may not be possible depending on the safety of your area or the weather at the time of day you can walk. Running may not be your choice of activities unless you are being chased by a bear. Reading is enjoyable, but if you are constantly interrupted it can be hard to keep track of the story.


There are as many ways to relax as there are individuals and unfortunately, you have to find what works for you. You can do this by crossing off those things you have tried and know you don’t like. Many people find knitting or crocheting relaxing, but if you have tried one of these and found yourself not enjoying it because your stitches were too tight or uneven and you spent more time redoing your work than moving forward, cross it off your list.


When people invite you to join them, go if you can, and see what you think of the activity. If you’ve never tried indoor rock climbing and someone suggests it, see what you think. You’ll be safe as you experience the outdoors inside. If you have little upper body strength or are afraid of heights, you may not do it more than once, but you may find you love it.


Sometimes cities or recreational organizations offer sample classes for free or at a reduced price. A local city parks and rec department offers archery every Saturday morning. After attending a free safety class, you can attend as often as you like for $5 and they supply the equipment. This is a great time to see what you think of it!


My mom started learning how to golf before she retired. She told me she liked it because she had to focus on that one thing or she played poorly. I always wanted to find something that would engage me in that way.


My son and I have started taking a fencing class. We have attended the class twice. It is all new to me. There is nothing familiar about the way you stand, move, hold your body, the clothes you wear, the equipment you use or the terminology. In my early 50’s, I am the oldest student in the class, and in some cases, I’m old enough to be my partner’s grandparent! At the second class we put on the face mask and jacket. It was warm in the room since it lacks air conditioning. The mask is heavier than I expected, and since I wear glasses, the fit was awkward until I found the strap in the back. When we stopped to rest after about an hour, my lower back was stiff. When the class ended and we took off our gear, I felt something unusual: relaxed. I was shocked that this was the first thing I noticed. The feeling continued, and when I laid down to go to sleep that night, I realized that during the fencing class, I didn’t think about anything but what I was learning and trying to accomplish.

urbandictionary.com gives this as a description of zen, “a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.”  I think I accomplished my zen moment that night while fencing.


Where should you start? If there is something you have always wanted to try or that interests you, pursue this interest. You may discover your zen, too!



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