Monthly Archives: April 2009



My wise friend, Tracy, sent me this link, and I wanted to share it.


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Have you thought of more things you could be doing just for fun?  So why are you not finding the time for these things?  OK, here are five more tips:

21. GET A MASSAGE.  Yes it is expensive.  And SO worth it!  The benefits of a massage are enormous.  You get all those kinks – all the tension – worked out.  And you get pampered, which we all deserve.  You get to lie in a warm room with relaxing music in the background while the massage therapist works warm aroma-therapy oils into your tired muscles.  I had a massage last week (at Evensong Spa, Green Lake, WI), after going way too long since my last one.  The massage therapist clearly could feel exactly where I was holding any tension, and she was expert at working it out.  Every fiber in my body felt exquisite.  And by the way, the whole spa experience is something we can all use on a regular basis!

22.  GET AWAY OVERNIGHT OR FOR A WEEKEND.  It doesn’t have to be far and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Just getting out of your usual (often busy and stressful) space can bring on peace.  At home, there are usually things you feel compelled to do.  When you’re away from home, you don’t have to follow any routine – it’s freeing.  And please, if you have to bring your phone, remember that you don’t have to answer it – because you’re on vacation!

23.  SOAK IN A HOT TUB.  Peaceful time alone – need I say more?


detail of Stephanie’s Coneflower by Shelley Brucar

24.  VISIT AN ART GALLERY OR MUSEUM.  Yes, being an artist, this is a natural place to find me.  However, it can be enjoyable for anyone.  Seeing art can take you into a different world.  You become engaged with the art, with the beauty, the message, the color, the lines.  You can momentarily let go of everything else – and that is a good thing.

25.  GO TO JOKES.COM.  There is always a “joke of the day” plus archives of thousands of jokes conveniently categorized so you can look for the ones that will make you laugh.

What coping tools are working for you?

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Yesterday was such a glorious day!  I do believe it’s so much easier to relax and reduce stress when one can be outside, with nature.  And, for me at least,  it’s so much easier to be outside when it’s warm and sunny – like yesterday.  So after lunch, which was of course outside, my husband and I spent the rest of the day at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Buds are popping out everywhere, and some spring flowers are already in bloom.


While walking around the Garden, I found much of interest on the ground.  Can anyone identify these?

natural-wondersThere were thousands of these brittle, curled-up things on the ground.  They look to me like they belong in a felted piece I’m working on after last week’s workshop with Michele Sales.  They will show up in some artwork whether or not I can find out what they are, but it would be nice to know.

And here is the “large” piece I was felting in class.  It’s not anywhere near done; I have lots of ideas floating around for more felting and surface design, but some folks were interested in what it was going to look like.



Don’t fret, stressed-out people.  I will get back to coping tools in the next post.  I just have to weave in some artsy stuff because that’s my stress management. 

Today’s best coping tool:  Savor the lovely days of Spring.  Open your windows.  Spend time outside.


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Wayne’s photos are all about connecting with nature.


Hiking “The Narrows” slot canyon at Zion National Park, Utah – one of the most exciting and amazing adventures of my life!

img_1031Sedona, AZ

img_10351Jackrabbit on trail in Sedona

img_1183more Sedona – the rocks really are this color!

img_16411Calf Creek Falls – the reward after an already gorgeous hike through red rocks on Calf Creek Trail, east of Bryce Canyon, Utah

p1040725Calf Creek Falls

img_1526The Narrows at Zion

img_1868Here I am among the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon.  I’ll show you more photos of these in a future post.


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Have you started bringing FUN back into your life?  Here are the next 5 ideas…

16.  READ A BOOK JUST FOR FUN.  Go to the bestseller list, the library or the bookstore, and just pick something that looks like an enjoyable read.  An engrossing story is a great tool for taking us on a short vacation.  It’s a good thing to get “away from it all” sometimes; you come back refreshed and ready to face the day.  While you’re at it, join a book group; reading with friends and discussing books keeps you reading (you don’t want to find out the end before you’ve finished the book); it can bring the story to a whole new dimension when you hear other people’s perspectives; and it offers the opportunity for some FUN social time with friends.  I understand that there are some bookgroups, like Tracy’s, where reading the book is not really necessary as long as there are good refreshments – and wine!

17.  TAKE A CLASS JUST FOR FUN.  There are so many classes through park districts, schools and continuing education providers.  Look through a course catalog and pick a class that looks interesting.  Maybe it’s something you’ve done before and want to pick up again, or maybe it’s something you’ve never even thought about.  Learning something completely new or getting new info on something you are already familiar with can result in hours of pleasure – and you will probably meet some interesting people.

18.  TAKE UP A NEW HOBBY – OR AN OLD ONE.  Along the same lines as reading or participating in a class, engaging in a hobby can provide a break from the usual routine, and it can be a new source of fun and a venue for meeting new people.  Spending some time during the week with a hobby that you feel passionate about simply feels good.  My husband did not believe this (we’re talking years of encouragement from me to get a hobby) until he got involved in photography.  The extent of his photo equipment and hours spent taking photos and looking at/manipulating them in Photoshop is a very clear indication of how much joy he gets from this hobby. 

19.  LAUGH!  For some of us, taking on adult responsibilities make life all serious.  When was the last time you had a good hearty laugh – when you couldn’t stop until it hurt?  Incorporate things into your regular routine that make you laugh – funny movies or tv shows, funny books, friends who make you laugh, a comedy show at a local theater.  Laughing is such an easy way to relieve tension – and it’s free.

20.  BUY FLOWERS FOR SOMEONE YOU LOVE … for no special occasion, but just because.  It will make both of you feel loving and loved.

Now you’ve got the first 20 items from my “100 Stress Reducers” list.  Don’t try to do them all; just pick the ones that appeal to you and see what a difference a few small changes can make in how peaceful you feel.  And how about sharing your ideas – what has worked for you in the past to relieve or prevent stress?

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Kids seem to instinctively know how to have FUN.  As adults, we often get weighed down by our daily obligations, and either forget how to have fun or fail to make time for fun.  Life becomes way too serious.  This post and two more which will follow will give you the next 15  ideas from my “100 Stress Reducers” list, and they are all about bringing fun back into your life.

Continuing from the 3/23 post …

11.  WRITE A LIST OF THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY – THINGS THAT GIVE YOU A SENSE OF SERENITY – THINGS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD.  The things on your list need not be big, expensive and time-consuming – although some of them might be.  To make your list, set aside 15 to 30 minutes when you can be alone, close your eyes and dream/visualize what makes you feel good.  Yes, maybe one thing on your list is a 2-week vacation in Hawaii.  And maybe another item is as simple as a “catch-up” email to an old friend.  Now that you have this list, look at it regularly, and update it whenever new ideas come to mind.

12.  DO SOMETHING JUST FOR FUN – EVERY DAY.   It’s time to look at the list you just made and pick something.  It can be a full day visit to an art exhibit, or it can be small, maybe just taking a break to watch the sun rise or set.  The important piece is to take the time, whether it’s 5 minutes or 5 hours, to do something that makes you smile, feel good, be at peace.

13.  COLOR OR DRAW.  Get yourself a sketchbook, a child’s coloring book, a paint-by-numbers kit, or whatever moves you.  We all did activities like these as kids and thoroughly enjoyed them.  So why don’t we do them now?  No excuses – splurge on the box of 64-color crayons and play without judging yourself.

14.  DO SOMETHING YOU LIKED TO DO AS A CHILD.  Did you used to love building models?  Did you love the swings or merry-go-round at the park?  What else brought you joy as a child?  What’s stopping you from doing these things now?

15.  MAKE TIME FOR THE PEOPLE ON YOUR LIST.  If you haven’t put any people on your list, you can add them now.  Who are you likely to be with when you feel good?  Are there friends, family members, aquaintances in your life who accept you for who you are, who love you unconditionally, without judgement?  These are the people you want to keep near and dear.  Make time for them.  You will benefit.


“Red Hat Ladies” by Shelley Brucar.  This was absolutely a “just for fun” piece.

If you believe you don’t have space in your life to implement even these simple ideas, take a look at how you’re spending your time.  We’ll take on time management in future posts, but for now just contemplate letting go of one small thing that takes up some of your precious time, some small thing that is really not a necessity.   I’ve heard many people say that after a long, tiring day, all they can do is sit and watch TV.  But TV is not anywhere near as relaxing as so many other ways that time could be used.  Giving up 1/2 hour of tv 2-3 times/week to do the things on your list could make a huge difference in how you feel all the time!

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I’ve had some feedback about using Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Visualization.  Several people are  finding it difficult to use these tools because, obviously, trying to practice them while reading the scripts is pretty much impossible.  There was a suggestion that I add audio for these pieces for users to listen to as they practice.  It’s a great suggestion, and I may do it – eventually. 

Until that time, here are a few tips to help you get going on your own.  Pick the script you want to follow, read through it a few times, then close your eyes, BREATHE SLOWLY, and do any part of it you remember – or make it up as you go along.  It doesn’t have to be my script in order to promote relaxation.

For PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION, all you’re doing is going through the various muscle groups in your body.  The order you go in does not matter at all; just start with your head and work your way down to your toes.  If a part of your body is particularly tight, you can tense and relax that spot two or three times, or come back to it later.  

This is all you need to remember:  Inhale & Tighten; Exhale & Release.

After you get to your toes, scan your body and breathe into any spots that are still tense.

For VISUALIZATION, you want to think about a place, real or imagined, that makes you feel good, great, safe, peaceful.  You can get some ideas from the script I posted, but this is your own place.  Make it whatever you want it to be.  Get comfortable, close your eyes, breathe slowly, and let your imagination go wild.  Think about somewhere you’ve been that you loved, or totally make it all up.  This is for YOU.

Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming.  If you share your comments on this page, everyone can join in the conversation.  And please don’t wait for me to get audio – start relaxing now!

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