Design for Life: Give Me Shelter

Renew your body and refresh your mind with a little R&R.

| January/February 2004

  • Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison

“And every warrior Must have some rest, A little peace So she can do her best.”

—Meg Christian, “I Wish You Well”

I don’t need to tell you we’re living in tough times. It’s hard to avoid distressing news, whether it’s war, changing weather patterns, or mutant frogs in a nearby lake. While we actively respond to the crises at hand, we also must remember to renew and restore ourselves. When the situation is urgent, it’s easy to burn out in the interest of better days to come. Yet we are only truly effective when we keep ourselves strong, flexible and hopeful. Sometimes that requires focusing on our own needs right now.

The best way to renew ourselves is not by escaping the world, but by reuniting with the realms that sustain us. For most of us, that means nature and spirit.

After September 11, I was a classic case of walking Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: I was in shock, depressed, and spacey; I had trouble sleeping and couldn’t focus on work or other tasks. I lived in a state of psychic grunge for at least two weeks before deciding that I needed to restore my nerves. My boy-friend and I decided to get away for the weekend to a funky little resort on a lake—with clean, clear water and no powerboats. Our first afternoon there, I floated on my back on an inflatable raft, looking up at the sky, rocking gently on the water, feeling the sun on my skin, and delighting in the songs of the birds. I began to breathe deeply again. My skin tingled with subtle vitality. As I came back to life, I cried at my reunion with Mother Earth.

That night we sat on the dock, surrounded by gently lapping water and tree-covered hills, gazing up at the stars. Suddenly I knew in my whole being that there was something much bigger and more loving than whatever insanity was going on in our human world. I knew that I could go on, and I knew that my allegiance was to the spirit of life that unites us all.

Develop self-nurturing

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