Making the most of the coast

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When I was a free-range kid in the early 80s, I had a Pink Panther bicycle – also known as the coolest bike a girl could have in that day and age. I rode it everywhere.

On the way home from the day’s adventures, I’d build up as much speed as I could as I rounded the corner onto my street. Then I’d see if that momentum could carry me the rest of the way home without peddling. Once I reached top speed, I’d sit back, release the handlebars, and coast. No effort. No rush. I just glided down the homestretch with the sun and wind on my face and the destination in sight.

That’s where we are right now. These six days nestled between Christmas and New Year’s Day are meant for coasting. We’ve peddled hard all year, and the holidays often force a mad dash of extra activity. We’ve earned some time to glide.

But saying it is the easy part. Doing it can feel downright dishonorable in a society so bound up in busyness. Like many others, I often have to remind myself that a day doesn’t have to be ultra-productive to be good. And by extension, I am still good even when I’m not busy.

According to “busyness experts” – and yes, those people do exist – sometimes Americans stay busy to reassure ourselves (and to signal to other people) that we’re important – that we matter. But didn’t we matter the moment we took our first breath?

When we’re kids, we instinctively know that the best part of pedaling hard up a hill is the reward of relaxing while we zoom down the other side. That’s the whole point. But somewhere between the Pink Panther bicycle days and the “minivan with a mortgage” phase of life, we forget what we were born knowing – that resting is just as moral and good as work. We need both.

The good news is that resting comes in many forms. It’s not just for naps anymore (although I wholly recommend a nap if you’re so inclined). But resting can also be watching a favorite show on TV. It can look like lunch with friends, or playing on the floor with the dogs, or a great book in a quiet room. It’s peaceful puttering in any way you like.

The only rules for peaceful puttering are as follows: 1) No feeling guilty about it. 2) No self-recriminations about “not getting anything done all day.” 3) No use of the word “lazy.” It’s fundamentally wrong to beat ourselves up for taking good care of the body and soul God gave us.

As a kid on her Pink Panther bike, I never once thought of myself as lazy as I coasted down the street. I simply enjoyed the end of the ride. I was allowing the effort of previous pedaling to carry me home.

During these six precious days at the end of the year, I hope you and I can take our feet off the pedals – with no shame, no self-judgment. We are worthy of rest and joy and play. We’ve struggled up some big hills this year, and next year will come with its share of obstacles. So, for now, let’s take pride in this end-of-year glide. Make the most of the coast. And above all, let’s enjoy it.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at Her book is available on Amazon. 

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