Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weekends

I have a tough job. I work hard during the week. I feel a lot of stress. Which means that on weekends, I want nothing more than to relax. I don't want to have to think. I don't want to have to do. I just kind of want to be. Weekends, for me, should be all about lounging around.

They should be. But they aren't. Because I live with an energetic dog...

Now I have been a morning person most of my life. With the exception of my undergrad years - when I was known to stay out until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. and wake up at 2:00 p.m. - I have always been an early riser. In my books, staying in bed until 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday equals sleeping in, and spoiling myself rotten.

Still, even if I am seldom in bed past 7:00 a.m., I like to lounge around. My preferred Saturday morning ritual looks something like this:
  • Wake up sometime between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Stay in my pyjamas
  • Retrieve the Saturday Globe & Mail
  • Put on a pot of coffee
  • Drink coffee and read every section of the Saturday Globe & Mail (except the business section - hubby just reads that and summarizes for me)
  • Watch TSN Sportscentre 
  • Fill out the Globe & Mail crossword
  • Eat some breakfast
  • Tell hubby to stop harassing me about getting up and doing groceries

And eventually, after what I deem to be a long enough period of lounging around (which could be from anywhere between two and four hours of good solid downtime), I hop in the shower, get dressed, and walk down to the grocery store with hubby.

Well, that is my preferred Saturday morning scenario. And I even got to put this wonderful do-nothing-plan into action on more than a few mornings in my life.

But not anymore...

Now, Saturday morning looks something like this:
  • Wake up between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Immediately get dressed
  • Let the Beast out of his crate and into the backyard
  • Take the Beast out for at least an hour and a half. He gets his exercise (which can be a long walk, a bike ride or a run), followed by a drop in at one of a few doggy parks for socialization and fetch.
  • Come back home
  • Put on a pot of coffee
  • Have breakfast
  • Feed the dog
  • Get on with the rest of the day.

Aside from reading the Globe & Mail and the pyjamas, can you see what is missing there? A whole lot of lounging around is missing there, that's what!

You might be thinking to yourselves that there is plenty of time for lounging around once the Beast and I return from our morning of fun and activity. And I suppose, on the one hand, you are right. Certainly, once the Beast is well fed and well exercised, he likes nothing better than to plunk himself down on his dog bed for a good chunk of the day. I, on the other hand, now find myself incapable of doing so. You see, the secret to lounging around and doing nothing is to do so before you get dressed. At least for me. Once I'm dressed, my brain sends a signal to the rest of my body to get up and at 'em. No more time for watching Sportscentre. No more time for reading the Globe & Mail. And no more time for filling out crossword puzzles. Time to clean, go for groceries, reconcile household expenses, or even to get some work done.

And it's not just lazy mornings that are gone. It's lazy afternoons. Like days when you want to watch back-to-back football games and enjoy a couple of beers, for example. Or days after big Thanksgiving dinners where you ate way too much food and the only thing you want to do is curl up with a good book and read off your turkey coma.

Well, those days are long gone too. Because right smack dab in the middle of an exciting fourth quarter, or just at the part of the book where things are getting really interesting, the Beast starts to get restless and needs to be let out for his afternoon walk. And don't think you can ignore his restlessness either until the game is over. No freaking way. He is relentless with his whining and his barking and his dancing all over the place and his dropping toys in your lap and his.... well, you get the picture.  When it is time to go for a walk, it is time to go for a walk!

Which is how I came to find myself, over the course of this Thanksgiving long weekend, putting in a 9k run, a 10k bike ride, a 2.5 hour doggy date in the Arboretum, a 5k round trip walk to the best dog park in town, and at least a couple of other walks and a couple of other romps in the park. Who said long weekends were for relaxing...

So my days of lounging around are seemingly over.

But here's the kicker. I thought I would mind. I thought I would mind that I can no longer stay in my p.j.'s until noon if I want to, or that I can no longer sit in the basement watching non-stop football all day on Sunday, or that I had to cancel my subscription to the Globe & Mail because I found it unopened until late Sunday evening. But the truth is that I kind of don't mind. Sure, there is that split second when I am lying in bed on Saturday morning and I think to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice if I could stay in my pyjamas all day long!" But that moment truly is fleeting. There is even, I admit, a tiny moment of resentment when I am lacing up my shoes and taking off on an early-Saturday-morning run or a middle-of-an-exciting-football-game walk. But as soon as I set foot outside with the Beast, and see how absolutely happy it makes him to be out in the great outdoors, I can't help but surrender to his enthusiasm and enjoy myself. And I can't help but become a little bit more energized because of it.

So I've altered my perspective a little. Weekends - whether long or regular-sized - are still all about coming down from the stresses of the work week. It's just that now I recharge my batteries by replacing my pyjamas with running shoes, and the Globe & Mail with a furry, excitable and adorable companion.

And I think I might actually be less stressed than I ever was before.