Winter in Alaska

Learning to Relax

In 8th grade, I had a teacher who truly saw me. Despite the polished pre-teen veneer I carefully constructed, he saw what was underneath. In a poem I wrote in his class, I exposed a small crack in the disguise, though I think he had known long before the poem hit his desk. He had me read it to the class. The only line I remember is this: “Deep beneath my sugar shell, there’s the girl I long to be.” It went on to describe this girl, the girl I long to be: someone who wasn’t constantly worried or stressed or trying to fulfill the roles she thought others wanted her to be. He saw her.

Second from the left. Thanks, CRG for the picture!


Every Friday after that, instead of assigning me the class homework, he would assign me my homework: to take a bath and relax.

Every Monday, I’d look at the floor as I admitted I hadn’t done it.

Eventually, he let it go because he could tell, I think, that it was stressing me out that I couldn’t complete the “assignment”. Still, he would give me a knowing look every Friday and say “Be good to yourself”.

I think it embarrassed me that someone could so obviously see me, see what I needed to do: to relax. I was a perfectionist, extremely hard on myself, and under intense pressure to perform. How could he see that I was drowning under all of that? My sugar shell had cracked.

Over the years, things have improved…a bit. I’ve found my way into the bath to let the worry soak away but it creeps back in. When I’m busy, I think I’ve made progress, that I’ve truly learned to relax. Small chunks of time, like weekends, where I sleep a little later and read a little more fool me into thinking I’ve actually done it, I’ve actually relaxed. Then reality sets in. Like today.

Today marks the first day of my two-week vacation and instead of elation, I felt panic. What would I do today to feel accomplished? How would I know I was good if I wasn’t producing something of value? Earlier this year, I faced a similar conundrum when I had my first month off since I started working as a teen. In the past few weeks, in anticipation of the upcoming two, I’ve prepped for the time off, getting bills paid and loose ends tied up pretty so I could truly just relax. Not produce, not perfect, just relax.

Just like Leto…but maybe somewhere a little warmer.


This morning I realized I truly don’t know how to. The Chief agreed. In fact, he’s not sure he’s ever seen me do it (though he’s utterly certain I can). So, I’m setting to work these next two weeks: my mission? To learn how to actually relax. Thankfully, my body is already on the project as the exhaustion has finally set in and it requests my presence in bed (in lieu of a bath) with a good book. So, I’ve jumped off the production train. Now, which direction do I go?

I’ll let you know where I end up.

Wishing you and yours all the best in this holiday season.

With love and (hopefully) relaxation,

From Alaska



P.S. Thanks to you, Mr. B for trying to teach me to relax, even if I haven’t quite gotten there yet. I’m working on it.
P.P.S Have you mastered the art of relaxation or do you struggle as well? Share your story in the comments section!

14 comments

  1. Relaxing is easy for me; I think I was born with the gene! Relaxing for me occurs when I am outside walking in nature taking photos. Relaxing for me is when I’m home uploading the photos and choosing the best of the bunch. I work while I’m relaxing; I’m a Nature Photographer… favorite subjects are macro raindrops and birds! Enjoy each moment, Julia, even while you’re relaxing! 🤗😊💙🌹

    Liked by 2 people

          1. Thank you so much, Julia.
            So the way I found you and your blog is… a friend of yours (didn’t get her name) was in a hair salon in Sebastopol at the same time I was, and she was talking to her hairdresser about you and your adventures. I asked her for the info so I might follow you, which seemed like a great idea, to help break up the monotony of my life then! I have absolutely loved reading about all of your challenges and wins, starting from you had met the Chief! It’s pure joy for me to read about life beneath the Borealis! Thank you! Hugs and happy 2021!! suzie

            Liked by 3 people

            1. That is such a great story! I love it. Jodi (my hairdresser) is a dear friend. Thank you for following along through the ups and downs! I appreciate it. Best wishes to you and yours ❤️

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  2. I think the only time I really relax is when I’m out of the house on no particular mission. Going for walks seems to do the job: I quit looking around for things to do or improve, and I leave the targeted thinking and the work of listening behind.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful pictures as always. I also find it very difficult to spend a day doing nothing ‘productive’ – it’s such a shame that we’ve been trained to believe activities are only valuable if they accomplish something or generate profit. Hopefully you continue to be able to enjoy things for what they are!

    Liked by 2 people

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