The Secret Window


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Continuing this week’s Relaxation theme….

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“É vero.” That’s how Leonardo would have said, “True, that.”

The infamous, ridiculously talented Italian artist is one of the most fascinating people one could ever read about. Far be it from me to knock education, but I believe that reading his quotes, alone, could provide you with a better education than many colleges.

Leonardo da Vinci was born out of wedlock to a farmer’s daughter named Catarina. Sadly, this is about all we know of the mother of one of the world’s most brilliant men. It doesn’t appear that he spent as much time with her as he did with his father.

At one point in his life, Leonardo faced charges for homosexual relationships with his (of age) students and was known to be very involved with a male model. (Nearly certain that caused a stir.) He even spent several months in prison as a result of these charges. Although he was acquitted, one can only imagine the sort of treatment he faced in light of his sexual preference.

Irregardless of what others thought about his personal life, da Vinci was one of the most singularly brilliant artists whose work we’ll ever enjoy. His paintings, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are two of the most famous paintings of all time. His talent and brilliance were simply remarkable.

When I study people from the past who fascinate me in my present, I try to take away something from their life to enrichen my future. Whenever I read about da Vinci, I’m always struck by how serene, intellectual, and inwardly-strong he appears to have been. It shines through his art as well as his words. He didn’t rely on other people to give him approval or peace of mind, he kept a supply of his own.

The quote at the top of this post may have been his secret window to serenity. You can almost imagine him slaving away over the details of a particular painting, as well as the details of his life. Then, realizing he needs a break, lying his brush down and taking a walk out of doors. He no doubt, looked at every beautiful inch nature showed him, as only an artist can. Then, after his mind was refreshed, he’d return to his masterpiece.

When we are working on a particular task for too long, our mind becomes all tied up. We have to get away and give it the opportunity to “unwind”. It’s only then that we can think clearly enough to be of any use to ourselves, or anyone for that matter!

I can only speak for myself, but, I almost always make the mistake of sticking with the task at hand, irregardless of how crazy it’s making me. A while back, something from the depths of coding-hell had me twisted up like an over-achieving pretzel. I was a human knot sitting in my chair, I’m sure looking as foolish as I felt. I had to leave the house for an errand which took me about an hour. (Okay, it wasn’t an errand, I went with my husband to a local coffee house.) I didn’t think once about the evil awaiting and lurking in my computer back home. We talked about coffee, music, the lake, and baseball. When we got back home, my cappucino and I sat at the computer and VOILA everything that was murky to me an hour before was crystal clear. I was able to see what I hadn’t seen before, and able to fix it in less than 2 minutes. As powerful as caffeine is, it was the break that allowed me to recharge my batteries and get my wits about me.

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Next time you’re tied up in a ball, roll off for a while. One thing’s for certain about problems, they always wait for your return. It’ll be there when you get back, but this time you’ll be the one in control!

Make each moment count double,
The Mental Fitness Center

9:53:33 am Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Relaxation
Continuing this week’s Relaxation theme….

Sleep is one of the most overlooked parts of our life. Oddly enough, when we’re feeling stressed out, run down or wrung out, we look just about everywhere but the bedroom for the answer. It reminds me of when we put on a little weight – we’ll blame it on this, blame it on that – everything except the obvious (we eat too darned much!). Sometimes the best answer is the one that’s right in front of us, whether or not we want it to be that simplistic and unglamorous.

The average person requires an average of 8 hours of sleep within each 24 hour cycle. Some need a little less, some a little more. When we deprive ourselves of the sleep we need, we go into debt – sleep debt. The sleep debt will not go away on its own, and believe it or not, coffee will not pay the bill for you…it may buy you a little time, but the only way to pay off the debt is to sleep it off.

The price you pay for having the debt is costlier than you may realize.

Think about it this way: You know how you look when you’ve lost sleep? The dark under-eye circles, the tired-looking eyes, the more-noticable-than-ever lines… unrested person wears it on his or her face like a scarlett letter. Not a pretty sight. If a lack of sleep can do this to your face, what must it do to your insides? To your brain? Your nerves? Your emotions? Your (horrors!) personality?

Grab a pen and paper. Write down the number of hours you’ve spent sleeping for the past week. It won’t be perfect, unless your memory is ALL that mine AIN’T, but just try to get close. Add the numbers up and divide that number by 7. This is the average number of hours of sleep you’re getting each night. Feeling less than your best? This number could have something to do with it.

A few quick tips for better sleep:

Don’t eat much before bedtime. When your body’s busy digesting, it won’t be able to rest properly. PLUS, the oddest dreams show up on a full stomach!

Limit your caffeine for a few hours prior to bedtime. It would be a great idea to keep decaf coffee, tea or pop on hand to drink during the late evening hours.

Don’t allow any thoughts of work or stress to hit the sheets with you. If you absolutely can’t push them aside, get up and sit with them for a while elsewhere. After they’ve agreed to leave, go back to bed. Get in the habit of not allowing any bothersome thoughts in the bed with you – they make horrible bed companions.

A warm bath right before bed relaxes the muscles and signals to every ounce of your being that it’s time to wind down.

Read (as in poetry or the Bible) before bedtime. Not the paper (too depressing), work-related materials (too stimulating) or Dean Koontz (too frightening). Read something that will put your mind, Spirit and body in an agreeable, harmonious state. Shakespeare’s Sonnets and David’s Psalms are wonderful at any time of the day, but are nothing short of therapeutic in the evening hours.

Start keeping track of the number of hours you sleep each night as well as the way you feel the next day. You’ll soon see just how many hours you personally require.

If you’re wondering if you can afford to sleep more, rest assured, you can’t afford not to.

Make each moment count double,
~ Joi
The Mental Fitness Center

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