Updated: Feb 13, 2020
A few weeks ago, my mom and I went to visit her cousin, Eric. Eric lives in a far away land on the mountains of Sparta, Wisconsin. I know. I know. Wisconsin does not technically have mountains, but go along with me on this one.
When Eric retired from his military service, he was looking for the perfect place to live to enjoy his retirement. It was because of a detour in the road that he passed by this beautiful country. And he fell in love with it. It took him 10 years, but the little shack that he purchased is a fully equipped, beautifully decorated retreat type of home. But it’s never so simple. My dear cousin is somewhat challenged by health issues. He’s in chronic pain and can’t eat. Once a glorious chef, serving at the Pentagon, now he can’t even enjoy the food that he still knows how to make.
So, what do you do then? And this is where we all need to take a page from his book. Instead of worrying about what you can’t do, cook, eat or enjoy, you really just shift your focus to what you CAN enjoy. Eric has a little world of his own up there on that mountain that he calls “the Relaxarium”. It’s a home with a big wrap around porch that overlooks one of the most breathtaking views in the midwest. He sits quietly surrounded by hummingbirds who perch.
There’s a feisty cat named “Felix” who roams the wild and lives in the barn. There’s a deer or two frolicking in the fields. There are orioles and many other birds who come by. Most of his time is spent enjoying the outdoors and interacting with the creatures that come to visit. He handed both my mom and I our “entry cards” for the Relaxarium. Yes, we really did spend the night at his beautiful home.
We stayed up late hearing stories. Stories of war and service and adventure and freedom. Stories of traveling through Europe and meeting friends. Stories of love and love lost. Stories of faith and finding faith. Stories of cancer and survival. and hopes for the future.
As it is with most visits, I come home changed. I realized that I, too, need a relaxarium–an outdoor space for relaxation. I need to slow down, look for birds, listen for the crickets, adopt a stray kitten and just.. relax.