Thursday, October 18, 2007

Taking A Sick Day

When I was teaching, we were allotted ten sick days a school year. For me, maybe one out of ten would be used for an actual personal illness. Another might be used for a family member's illness. A few would be used throughout the year to catch up on grading papers or planning. But the best use of a sick day was when I took a mental health day. Today I took a mental health morning.

No, I'm not actually employed any more outside the home. But I still remember that feeling, that thrill that accompanies "playing hooky". Today I felt the urge coming on, so I went with it.

It started with a rainy morning. Autumn is desperately trying to appear, but summer heat is holding fast. A few leaves are turning colors, but others are grudgingly keeping their green. It seemed like the perfect day to not do things I needed to. So I did. Or didn't?

I showered, then padded around the house in sloppy, comfy clothes. I did things I wanted to, and considered spending time at the mall, but didn't - it would have required a change of clothes. I sat by the window and looked outside. I stepped over the pile of clothes that needed washing, strolled past the dirty dishes on the counter, and plopped down next to yesterday's paper that still lay on the couch. I didn't walk, jog, work out, or stretch. I ignored everything I needed to do, and did exactly what I wanted to do - nothing.

Those around me might ask why this morning was different than any other morning. After all, I don't go out to a job. How does one have a mental health day when it would seem you could have one every day?

The answer is attitude. Even when you're at home, you have to have a day when you feel you're escaping from the responsibilities that surround you. You have to have a day when you choose to do whatever you want, and realize that you are not doing what you're supposed to be doing. You have to claim a day that is yours, one where no responsibility can claim you. You have to have a day that thrills you because you chose to skirt the work.

So I had my mental health morning. It made me happy and refreshed. Everything I need to do is still there and will get done. But for a few hours this morning, I knowingly and willingly chose to abandon them. It was a great way to spend a morning.

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