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Monday, March 30, 2015

Instant Vacation!

The other day, the company for which I slave… I mean happily work… had another “Lunch and Learn”

These are fairly regular casual times, over lunch, during which a very nice lady named Roni comes by and patiently tries to teach a bunch of old dogs some new health, dietary, and wellness tricks. A bonus is, that as the name implies, there is food.  Our Human Resources department adheres to that time-honored adage of PTA’s, church rummage sales, and political fund-raisers: “If you cook it, they will come.”

There have been a variety of topics; how to make sense out of nutrition labels on food packaging, controlling hypertension (in the old days, it was called “high blood pressure”) without a truckload of prescriptions, to healthy snacking. An oxymoron if ever I heard one.

The most recent was quite intriguing: How to Reduce Stress. Although determining alcohol was not part of the regimen, I signed up anyhow. 

How apropos that the day in question was one rife with stress.

Our senior dog, Mimi, gently awakened me conveying her need to go outdoors.  I sleepily groped for my glasses, shoved my feet in the ugly dog-walking Crocs, and hoisted Mimi up. Making our way down the stairs, I absently hoped my pj pants would stay in place. While Mimi waking me is hardly noteworthy, at quarter past five in the morning I did notice the paper carrier stopping at our neighbor’s, a car running the flashing stop light at a nearby intersection, and a roving raccoon snuffling around the dumpster.

Mimi must have been reading Pavlov’s laboratory notes as of late, as she has determined that following going outdoors, she must have breakfast; regardless of the time. She expresses her desire with a series of short, high-pitched little yaps until I finally relent, plopping her food bowl before her. Hmm… wait… she gets me up, gets me to take her outdoors, barks at me, resulting in me getting her food. I am beginning to pick up on a pattern here.

This commotion results in Ike being roused from his slumber. He is demanding equal time, so back out-doors we go. The raccoon has satisfied himself at the dumpster, and is now waddling into the tree line. Another paper carrier stops by the neighbor’s, and I discover something on the ground I would rather have not discovered. It confirms the Canada geese have returned. Coming back indoors, Ike gets his breakfast, a couple pats on the head, and Mimi is packed off to bed again.

I gratefully lay down for a restful 30 minutes power nap. An hour later, I leap out of bed. In a breakfast less whirlwind, I prepare to leave for the office.

Naturally, I was totally unaware this morning was “National Drive Like You’re Going to A Root Canal Day.” Every vehicle I got behind was cruising along at a leisurely 10 miles per hour BELOW the posted speed limit! Toss in an unexpected school bus for additional giggles.

This on one of the few times I had a first thing, must-be-on-it conference call!

I slipped in under the radar about 5 minutes after the call started. Things just sort of continued to unwind from there. It was non-stop phone calls, e-mails, “Oh! Can you help with this? Can you work on that?” Three large bids I had been working on lurked at the side of my desk, silently imploring  “Don’t forget about us!”

Naturally, due to a last minute phone call from one of our sales people, I slipped into the conference room about 10 minutes late. Roni had soft music playing, lavender scented candles aglow, and the lights lowered. Seated around the table were several of my co-workers munching away on wraps, salads, soup and other goodies.

Following a presentation regarding several different ways (no, alcohol was not one of them) to spur on relaxation and kick stress in the chops, Roni offered to lead us in a visualization exercise we can use any place, any time we are feeling stressed.

While we closed our eyes, she led us to a beautiful tropical beach, white sand stretching for miles along a picture perfect blue ocean. White combers rolled ashore, retreating with that mysterious hissing  sound only a returning wave can make. Gulls wheeled over head in graceful flight, their cries adding harmony to the melody of the waves. The fronds of palm trees rustle in a soft, warm breeze; replete with the salty, primeval fragrance of the sea. I sit upon a small hummock of warm white sand, watching the endless advance and retreat of the ocean. I can feel the grains of sand between my toes; I revel in the wild symphony of color the setting sun provides. I feel dampness about my derriere. I notice the dampness becoming a warm surging wetness. It is then I realize I had neglected to visualize checking the tide table in the local tropical paper!

Yet, as the afternoon rolled on, I found myself taking several visual vacations.

Along about 2:30, I was somewhat surprised to be walking through a mountain meadow. The sun was warm upon my back, a blue sky dappled with white fluffy clouds stretched far and wide. The chuckle and gurgle of the wild stream played in my ears. My fishing rod felt good in my hands. I knew a cut-throat trout was just waiting for me. Carefully, I affixed a 5 inch Pinkie to the hook. With a flick of the wrist, the line arched gracefully over the clear as crystal water; landing within 4 inches of that singularly perfect trout’s lair. I feel the slightest vibration in the line as the wild fish tests the offering. Easy, easy… wait, just a bit.. NOW! I set the hook, and the fight is on. The desk phone in my creel on the stream bank begins to warble…

POOF… like that, a perfect Wyoming fishing trip gone!

I persevere with the matters at hand upon my desk, my in-box, and lurking behind that nagging, diabolical,  flashing “msg” light on my phone.

Oddly, about 3:45, I took a couple deep breaths, closed my eyes for a moment… and… my Lovely Bride and I are strolling along the Champs Elysees on a gorgeous Parisian spring day. The flowers are beyond description; the colors so vibrant. We stop by a small café for a demitasse of freshly roasted and ground coffee. With delight, we look over the shoulder of an artist painting the Arc de Triomphe. Stopping by a brazier tended by an elderly man who looks like he came from Central Casting; we are intrigued by the skill with which he grills breasts of squab. In the distance, I hear the gendarme who resembles Claude Rains*, with a voice similar to that of the boss, but with the most charming French accent; “Hopkins, what in the world are you doing?” I am astonished at the officer’s excellent grasp of English and being on a personal name basis with him.

Roni had failed to mention that Visualized Vacations can seem to be real; embarrassedly so at time.
I enjoyed little mini-trips throughout the evening. Skiing in the Swiss Alps, strolling the streets of Old Jerusalem, watching lobster boats return to port along the Maine coast; the list was impressive.

As I climbed the stairs for bed, I eagerly anticipated tomorrow’s travel itinerary.

*Played Captain Louis Renault, Casablanca, 1942

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