Relaxing comes easy to some folks, but for me it takes a little work. I can’t say why exactly, I’m just wired that way. My husband, on the other hand, has no issues in this regard.

Paul doesn’t need decorative little signs around the house that say things like “relax” or “breathe,” he just does it. For me, words like this are a great reminder to slow down and live a more balanced life.

“You should go fishing,” he said referring to the annual 10-day trip he just came back from. “There’s nothing to do but kick back and take it easy.”

The thought of sitting on a boat for hours on end waiting for a fish to tug at my line doesn’t interest me, but I can understand the appeal of basking in the warm sunshine for awhile, perhaps reading a good book. It would take some effort to get me to stop long enough to do it, however, and I can’t imagine not mixing in some work if the relaxation stage felt too lengthy.

While Paul was drinking cold beer at the campsite with his buddies, I was busy at home with the kids, working and tackling an endless list of self-inflicted chores. Yet as hectic and overwhelming as my days often were, I still wouldn’t have wanted to trade places with him. Instead I dreamt about escaping for 10 days on my own to do something I’ve been wanting to do for years: write a book.

“You could write a book in 10 days?” one of my friends asked skeptically.

“Maybe not,” I replied. “But I could get a great head start. With nothing distracting me but maybe a pretty view to look at, I could finally decompress and write what’s been brewing inside me for decades.”

Whatever I produced would undoubtedly need a ton of work once my trip was over, but the time spent writing would be far more enjoyable than fishing, golfing, cooking, gardening, watching sports or doing any of the other activities my husband loves to do.

“People relax in a variety of ways,” my belated grandmother said when I was younger, as she knit a sweater and explained why my grandfather preferred work over play. “Papa would find all my hobbies torturous.” She was right about that. The mere thought of him knitting, crocheting, bowling, singing or playing bingo made me laugh.

It looked to me like Nanan had all the fun while Papa just pushed papers in his office. I’d wonder why he’d choose to still do that after he retired, and how he could possibly whistle as he did. I get it now: his work brought him joy.

My grandparents had very different interests, but they both gave the same great advice: that we only live once, so we might as well do what we enjoy as often as we can.

Spending more time doing the things that we love and less time doing the things that we don’t will help make us feel happier and more fulfilled. Especially if we can remember to “relax” and “breathe” as we do it.

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Two camps divided

After a week of camping with my family in the great outdoors, or rather, a jam-packed campground, I have these three words: I love home!

 We had phenomenal weather, met some wonderful people, floated down the canal, painted rocks, played cards, went to the fair, took the kids go-karting and even found time to read. Not too bad after my initial resistance to the trip.

“So,” my husband said at the end of the week. “Should we do this again next year?”

From our beautiful site directly on the beach I looked out at the lights glistening off the lake and smiled.

“Or,” I said with my eyebrows raised. “We could stay in a hotel.”

“You had fun,” my husband said. “I know you did.”

“I could have more fun in a hotel,” I replied, having experienced both accommodations and preferring the one with room service.

It wasn’t just about the room service, though, since I rarely order that anyway. It was about peace and quiet instead of partying campers who kept me awake all hours. It was about walking down carpeted hallways instead of dusty dirt roads. And it was about a private toilet in the middle of the night instead of an ice cream bucket that would later need emptying.

I could understand the carefree appeal of camping for children since I used to be one and loved it as well. But now that I was an adult and partly responsible for all the work that camping brings, I wanted to understand the appeal for adults. The sweet family of six tenting next to us said they loved being outdoors and sleeping in close quarters because it forced them to connect in a way they couldn’t with all the distractions of real life at home.

I respected that, but it was the lady two sites down who really spoke my language. “I’m a princess like you,” she said. “The only camping I do is in this bad boy.”

As I entered her fancy motorhome, bigger and nicer than some of the hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, I understood why she liked camping. She had her own shower and toilet for heaven’s sake. What’s not to like?

“You weren’t exactly roughing it either,” pointed out a friend of mine after I whined about the crummy Internet connection and having to use a knife as a mirror to apply make-up when the washroom was being cleaned. “You were in a big tent trailer with electricity and bathroom facilities nearby.”

For a moment I tried to imagine a week without electricity and the fear I could instill with my caveman hair and foul expression.

Admittedly, I knew I was lucky. Roughing it is relative, especially when we remember how millions of people live on a daily basis in third world countries.

This trip might not have been my idea of a relaxing vacation, but amazing memories were made, our kids had a blast and now my small, messy house seems like an immaculate mansion by comparison.

Maybe camping isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. You can watch her Double Dose videos or contact her at