I recently called my grandmother for Mother’s Day and was updated on my family’s news. My granny lives in Dublin, Ireland, where I originally hail from and most of our family resides. In return, I painted her a picture of the hustle and bustle of New York life. Her response spoke to me deeply.

“Don’t overwork,” she said. “There is no point running yourself into the ground. Working yourself ragged is of no benefit to anyone.” I took a deep breath and surveyed the pace of my life. I questioned: Am I being pulled along, or are the reigns in my hands? I know I create my reality and therefore hold the reigns. But on busy days in Manhattan, as I run a business and lead a full social life, I feel I am surrendering to a forceful undertow. At such times I feel exhausted just trying to stay afloat.

I had been attempting to work ten weekends in a row, between my retreat in Brazil in March and my next big trip, to Bali, in June. Urging myself to knuckle down to accomplish my goals, I found myself working days on end without rest. My grandmother’s message, that life encompasses so much more than work, sunk in.

She continued to talk about my family. “Your uncle Randall is sick with the flu,” she said. “He didn’t take a holiday this spring due to business demands. He missed out on a good spring bluster and got sick.” She was suggesting that if my uncle had taken a spring break, he would have been outdoors among the elements and exposed to a hearty gust of wind that would have, in tandem with other relaxing qualities of the trip, protected him from this late spring flu.

Throughout my extensive studies of health, I had never read of the immune-boosting properties of getting caught in a wind, but it made perfect sense to me. As the exhaustion weighing upon my shoulders became more apparent, I realized that my grandmother’s Mother’s Day gift to me was her suggestion that rather than an apple a day, I use a holiday to keep the doctor away. Time I slowed down for a weekend, I decided.

So I cancelled a few commitments and cleared time for two nights away in a cabin in upstate New York. Thanks to the possibilities of Internet searching I discovered a gem of a place to escape with my companion, Philip. As we left the city behind and the terrain changed from concrete jungle to lakes and forest, a gentle hush fell upon our minds. Relief crept across our faces, and we were infected with smiles and laughter.

We arrived at our cabin in the woods around dusk, unpacked and strolled down to the nearby lake. We hopped onto a boulder and gazed at the moon reflected on the water. The stillness and peace of the quiet night was a stark contrast to my usual in the city. I noticed that I was able to think more clearly and comprehensively encompassing the larger picture of my life and my desires. As the half moon rose, the night brightened and the sensuality of the moment struck me: a moon-lit lake, my limbs resting on a smooth and ample rock, my lover and I huddled under my shawl, shielded from the cool, fresh air. This was no gusty blast but it sure felt healthy! And I clearly recognized how much I needed it.

Generous sleeping-in is a great antidote to overwork. You can even try this in the city, although waking in a quiet forest does make it easier to stay in bed. The first morning in the cabin I gave myself a good dose of rest and stayed in bed until 2pm. We ate brunch on a picnic table in the sun and headed out into the woods.

Caressed by the natural hues of the forest and the play of the light through the foliage, my body seemed to purr as if it was being tenderly stroked by the nature around me. As good as a treatment in a luxurious spa, my walk along this windy path made me feel pampered and indulged, two other wonderful remedies for an overworked condition. I took in the visuals of the rocks, moss, and plants and the sounds of the birds. I noted how clean the air felt—and all this less than two hours from the madness of Manhattan! I thought of my grandmother and thanked her for inspiring me to draw a line.

The path wound on and we walked, not knowing what lay beyond the next bend. What we came upon took our breath away. A lake, shaped like an open eye, appeared slightly down the slope from us. The water beckoned irresistibly. As our path did not lead to it, but forked in the other direction, we left the beaten track and charted our own course across the land to the shore of the lake.

“Let’s swim across to the other side,” I suggested.

“No, it’s too cold,” my friend said.

“Oh come on!” I was already disrobed and getting in. “It’s not too bad.”

He too jumped in and followed me out towards the middle. We swam, enjoying the silkiness of the water.

“Let’s not go all the way across,” he begged.

But I was undeterred and he acquiesced, pursuing me to the rock that awaited us on the other side. Once there, we could sun ourselves, rest and enjoy the view blue sky and forest reflected on a lake!

After swimming back we emerged refreshed and elated. With no towels and the sun on the other side of the lake we tried to air dry in the shade. As the breeze came upon us, so did a slight chill. My arm hairs stood on end and I shivered. The elements of nature the water, the wind and the beautiful earth below me—had conspired to deliver me the equivalent of a spring bluster my grandmother had recommended for good health. Although I grumbled as I endeavored to shake dry and re-dress my damp body in a hurry, I took glee in feeling invigorated and strengthened by a healthy walk in the woods, a dip in a cool lake and the touch of a breeze that sent a light shiver up my spine.

That night thunder and lightening broke loose and shook the illuminated sky. Inside the cabin the elements again put on an amazing spectacle, uplifting our minds with their brilliance. Returning to New York the next day, sneaking in before the late rush hour traffic like school kids before the last bell, the exhilaration of our intimate meeting with nature still circulated in our veins. With an almost desperately needed balance between work and relaxation restored, our city rhythms recommenced anew and afresh.

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