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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

I'm having way too much fun resting

I recently moved a bird nesting box to another tree, farther from our back porch, hoping the Cardinal couple inhabiting the backyard would take advantage of it this spring.

Lo and behold, someone else has decided to take up residence.

This little guy is so adorable when he naps in the box. I can see him from my office window, and if he's out there snoozing, I cease working. My mind rests just watching him.

Recently, The Youngest shared a list of ways she has learned she enjoys rest.

One of the items on her list is spending time at Disney. And I completely agree.

We both live in Orlando (actually live a few houses apart from each other on the same street!) For me, because I can't live in Waterville, Ireland (yet), Disney World, specifically EPCOT, is my happiest place on earth.

I forget about my responsibilities when there, and I just immerse myself in a different world. Well, eleven different worlds because the World Showcase is my favorite area; I just love seeing the different cultures of the countries there. A day trip to one of the Disney parks is restful, even though I'll be exhausted when I leave.

Thinking about rest also brought to mind something about my mom. 

My mom has spent most of her life from when she was 11 years old working. Her family lived in the Philippines when her dad was stationed with the Air Force. Her mother was not a fan of how dusty everything was all the time or any other domestic tasks, so the chores were left to my mom and a local boy her age who helped the Air Force families.

And up until last summer, she has been literally, constantly going. She survived on 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night until she was probably in her late 70s. She always "complained" about having too many chores around the house, things that just had to be done. I saw her go from one thing to another and never finish her projects.

But as I've watched her progress through the different stages of dementia, I have seen something else. Even though it means she is nearing the end of her life, she is finally resting.

She doesn't have to worry about cleaning the house, or cleaning the cat's litter pan, pulling the weeds out of the flower beds, making sure the car is in good working condition, or sweeping the back porch.

She's resting with her friends and the care team, who take such good care of her. She's no longer burdened with the fetters of this world, which was a phrase she liked to use a lot.

By the way, I never really understood what "fetters" were until I looked up the definition:

A restraint or check on someone's freedom to do something, typically one considered unfair or overly restrictive

Looking back on my mom's life, this makes a lot of sense. She always felt restrained being a housewife. She loved it, she loved us, she was wonderful at it. But I think she always wanted to be something more. I think she just wanted to feel like she could rest.

And I get it. Always striving to "be the best" or "get EVERYTHING done" is hard work.

As a lifelong W-2 employee who's been trying to build an editing and writing business for the past year, there haven't been many days where I have been able to rest intentionally. Or at least rest that is rejuvenating.

There's a difference I've discovered recently between a reset rest and a recoup rest.

My recoup rest is when I'm sleeping, and my brain can wash out all of the toxins of the day and gear up for the next day.

Meanwhile, my reset rest is when I spend time doing something I enjoy, which makes me feel refreshed and restored.

I have found a new app that I downloaded on my phone and it has become a new favorite way to rest.

It's a bird song identifier called Merlin.

It's offered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It's a tool that helps bird identification by using data from over 800 million eBird submissions to identify birds based on their sounds and songs. The Sound ID feature suggests real-time bird songs and calls to help in this identification. And when a bird is singing, it's match lights up in yellow, so you can easily identify which bird it is.

There have been several studies on how nature and bird sounds help our mental state:

"The theory suggests nature helps us overcome tiredness as it is an easy, and often pleasant, thing to focus on. It gives us a break from other cognitive challenges in the environment, allowing us to replenish the energy we have lost."

So now part of my rest includes sitting on my back porch or in my meditation garden listening and identifying the birds visiting the backyard.

When we first moved here, I spent a lot of time taking pictures of the birds and then asking Google Images to identify those I couldn't identify.

And now, with Merlin's help, I've been keeping a list of all the birds that have been visiting, and I'm able to easily identify who's in the backyard just by their sounds.

I am a complete bird nerd.

So, I'm learning to embrace the beauty of rest.

Whether finding comfort in watching a cozy squirrel nap in my backyard or walking around Disney, I've found that rest assumes many forms.

Reflecting on my mom's journey, I now understand that true rest is not just about sleeping; it's about releasing the "fetters" of constant busyness.

As someone moving through the ongoing hustle of being a novice entrepreneur, I've learned the importance of both recoup and reset rest.

And if you're looking for an amusing way to reset, join me in identifying birds with the Merlin app – because sometimes, a little birdwatching can be the perfect amount of too much rest.

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