By Annette Dashofy
Several friends have commented lately about how calm I look considering the Pennwriters Conference (of which I am coordinator) is less than two months away. This usually makes me want to laugh. Then I consider the possibility that I should be an actor instead of a writer.
Some days the tension bubbles under the surface like a volcano about to blow its top. My current source of aggravation is people who do not respond to emails or return phone calls. Repeatedly. And I’m not just talking about the conference. At this very moment, there are three people I’ve been trying to get responses from. One of them has been avoiding me for more than three months. The other two have been dodging me only for a couple of weeks.
This makes me very annoyed. Do not make me come after you.
However, most of the time I’m coping quite well. Just the other day, I was exchanging emails with a friend (one who does actually reply to my messages) and we discussed methods of staying calm. Mine are: deep breathing, chocolate, yoga, chocolate, long walks, chocolate, and when all else fails, that bottle of Merlot in the fridge. And chocolate.
I’ve also started employing a weekly event I refer to as Mental Health Day. Now, I know lots of folks take these on occasion. But I’m talking about one every week. Usually on a Saturday or Sunday. During most MHDs, I don’t even turn on the computer. This makes for a very busy Monday, but that’s another story.
This past weekend, I took my MHD on Saturday and went to the track. Not to bet. Not to watch the races. But to renew my groom’s license and hang out in the barn with the horses and my friend, Jessi, a trainer at Mountaineer.
I first met Jessi and became a licensed groom when I was writing the veterinary mystery series set at a Thoroughbred racetrack. Research can be fun. Unfortunately, those manuscripts have yet to sell. So my time at the track is strictly fun these days. I brush horses. Sometimes I walk horses. Sometimes I help bathe horses. Always I dodge teeth.
Yes, to me this is fun. If I had to be there every morning even when it’s in the single digits in the dead of winter, like Jessi does, I’m sure it would no longer qualify for MHD status.
So what do you do for a Mental Health Day? And have you taken one recently? If not, WHY? Plan your escape NOW. We all need some time away, even if it’s not all that far away.
We also need chocolate.