April 1, 2013

It’s been eight months since my shrink explained to me that vacations are so powerful that even the act of planning one can already lift the spirit. This has proven so true for me that I’ve found a way to get a bit of that buzz every day while still working full-time and living on a tight budget.

Unlike in 2012, there are no near-term prospects for flying off to Paris or the West Coast this year. With my daughter about to start college, the goal is to conserve cash for tuition payments and horde those precious vacation days from work. We will soon enter The First Freshman Semester and I want to be as available as possible for whatever might come up.

But oh, there’s nothing like looking forward to a vacation…

Yes, I’m scheduled for some local getaway weekends. And they do indeed keep me smiling in anticipation. No matter how stinky I might be while coping with daily pressures, shifting my thoughts to these pending adventures is an instant mood changer. But lately, I’ve been wanting and needing even more happiness. More, more, more!

For that, there is our hammock chair. We have it swinging in a central location between our living and dining areas and the kitchen. You can be in the middle of everything without locking into an actual, defined space.

In my heart of hearts, h-a-m-m-o-c-k spells tropical breezes, clean beaches, blue waters and swaying palm trees. For years, I’ve scoured craft fairs and fancy specialty shops, lusting over the lovely hammocks for sale. Unfortunately, they were either insanely expensive, too bulky or downright uncomfortable.

Then one day, while I was explaining all this to a neighborhood friend, she said that when her son was in middle school, he wanted a hammock too. So she told him go find one. The smart child went online and quickly did exactly that. She suggested that I check out the contraption, which was suspended in her son’s bedroom.

Wow — it was compact, well-priced and incredibly cozy. Instead of either chic or classic beauty, the chair offered ingenious functionality and came with a detachable sling-style foot rest and a separate cup holder. Most impressive was the fact that this piece of fun furniture was in solid shape even after years of hanging out with an active, growing boy.

Going on to order the $159.99 Nami Chair took mere minutes. It arrived within the week. Then it sat there in the box for months while I waited for the handyman to drop by and install it.

The tricky part was identifying a ceiling beam that could securely handle the pull of up to 200 pounds of human weight. It’s all about finding the right stud, my handyman explained. But, of course. It’s always about finding the right stud, haha!

The chair was delivered with only a swivel hanging hook. Without some sort of extender, the entire apparatus was stranded four feet from the floor — way too high. After the handyman left, it took a few more weeks for me to figure out the right height. The Hammaka website sells a $12.99 hanging spring but it was out of stock. So I went to the hardware store and bought a few sturdy steel “S” hooks that cost two bucks apiece. They do the job!

Now, I make it a point to crawl into the chair nearly every day. When the wood burning stove is crackling with a nice fire, the whole experience is especially delightful.

Sometimes, our comfy cradle rocks me while I’m noshing on a snack. This usual leads to an extended stretch of staring into nothingness. The first time my daughter spotted me in this condition, it was at night and there were barely any lights on. The three cats and the dog were lounging nearby in various states of repose.

“What are you doing?” she asked curiously. “That’s so creepy.”

An understandable reaction. For her entire life — and mine as well — I’ve been one of those rush-and-go moms. To sit still is abnormal, a time-waster.

Not anymore. With the hammock chair, the house offers refuge, rest and relaxation in new ways. That means exploring the wise art of sitting calmly. I am discovering the peace of being alone in the moment. More mellow. More centered. And yet, more spontaneous.

A new me.

Creating favorite, snuggly places to recharge within our own homes is a tremendous gift to ourselves. It doesn’t have to involve a hammock chair. The solutions might be as simple as changing the light bulbs, moving some items around or clearing clutter. Any action that helps us achieve a great level of personal comfort is a celebration in just…being.

The new you.

Exhale, baby, exhale. xo.