Sit Back, Relax and Unwind

Loon Lake, Washington - sunset

By Judy Berman

It was a day like any other on my long commute to work. Suddenly, I realized I must have passed my exit because the scenery was unfamiliar.

“Funny, I don’t remember seeing ice flows and polar caps in Florida before.”

That’s when I knew I had to dial it back, slow down and just breathe.

Our brains can go on automatic pilot. As we mentally sort thru the day’s to-do list, and yesterday’s drama, the gray matter steps in and announces: “Here. I’ve got this.”

Then, the brain efficiently handles the mundane while you continue to juggle the heavy-lifting issues.

There might be times when you question if it’s gone on vacation. Like the time I felt particularly stressed at work, and my brain went into the vegematic mode.

I was headed to the Utica Police Department to pick up reports for our newspaper.

Just as I parked the car, I thought I saw someone I knew and ran over to say “hi.” It wasn’t who I thought it was, and I continued walking to the police department about a block away.

As I’m ready to leave, I began to check my pockets. Empty. Where’s my car key?

I enlist the help of an officer there, and we retrace my steps. No luck.

Maybe, I dropped it on the way into the station. I search the streets frantically as I run back to my car. Still no key.

Finally, I round the corner. There’s my car. The key is in the ignition. The car is running. The door is unlocked.

I’d been gone about 20 minutes. I was lucky the car wasn’t stolen.

When I returned to work, a co-worker gently suggested that my brain was fried. I suspect he was right.

I no sooner, jokingly, told my boss that I wanted someone to escort me home, wrap me in a blanket, and give me a soothing cup of tea … when I got a call.

Documents revealing how and why the feds investigated a company I was reporting on had been filed in federal court in Syracuse. That was 50 miles away, but only a few miles from my home.

Loon on Paudash. Click to enlarge.

A saner person would have taken the rest of the day off. I didn’t.

For me, I was able to file my story from home and, then, finally, thankfully, unwind. I sat on our back porch on a deck chair and let nature wrap me in a warm, loving embrace.

Now, when I feel stretched to the max, I look for ways to tap into that same calming spot. It can be in a library, an art museum or just some alone time at home.

It can be found on a deck chair in a nature center near a quiet brook.

That’s where my mental journey takes me. I envision myself alone on a canoe trip into the wilderness with the sound of the loons (water birds) in the background before drifting off to a blissful, welcoming sleep.

Watkins Glen, New York


Where do you go to get away from it all, to just turn down the volume?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Video: Loons – Sounds of Nature for Relaxation – nearly 24 minutes long. Sit back, relax and unwind. 

Main Photo: Loon Lake, Washington – sunset – Atmospheric conditions created by forest fire about 1 mile from location photo was taken August 2, 2004 by Nomeato

Photo: Loon – A Great Northern Loon (also known as Great Northern Diver or Common Loon ) swimming on Paudash Lake, Haliburton County, Ontario, Canada. Taken 2007.This work has been released into the public domain by its author,Lake Central at the wikipedia project

Photo: Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, New York – taken August 5, 2012 by Jyothiprakash007



  1. Outside in the summer and my face in a book in the winter.

    Wow leaving your car running with the key in the ignition! I’ve never done that but I can sure relate to disassociating, i.e., crossing the street on a red light, driving by my exit, sometimes even forgetting where I was heading! EEK!
    Diana xo

    1. Diana … I’ve driven by my exit several times … and by my home. I’ve gotten to my destination and realized I was on automatic pilot. So, I totally understand where you’re coming from.

      In retrospect, some of my vegematic moments are funny. But, at the time, it’s no fun being so frazzled that you can’t think straight. 😉

  2. That happened to me once during a very stressful time. I had totally forgot something else which was very unlike me. One of the folks who worked for me said I was fried. I was grateful for her comment because I thought I had dementia (yet another reason to worry). Trying not to over multi-task and periodically relax is so important.

      1. When I got them after that time, I didn’t assume I was ready for the mental ward. That in itself was a relief! I developed a habit of walking around our office building (on the outside) when things got tuned up. It helped a lot.

        comment from earthrider to katecrimmins:
        I’m going to have to try that, Kate. I have co-workers who walk around our patio during lunch. Sounds like a plan. 😉

  3. I know that spaced-out, where am I feeling too well. It happens to me frequently, if I’m not very careful to not get over-tired. They call it “Fibro-fog.”

    To turn down the volume, get away from it all, anywhere in a natural setting where there are few, or no other people. The ocean, the woods, a mountain, a stream, a meadow, a secluded lake…. any one will do. As long as there aren’t too many mosquitoes, black flies, scorpions, rattle snakes or lions, tigers or bears.

    1. Tracy, just listing all those critters – flying, crawling and stalking – is enough to make me look for a nice air-conditioned room to hang out in.

      When I want to kick back, I also listen to a tape I bought years ago, “Solitudes II.” On it Dan Gibson narrates a canoe ride on loon lake – it’s oh so relaxing that I’ve fallen asleep to it. 😉

      1. I have that C.D.! (or I did–now you’ve got me wondering where it is?)

        comment from earthrider to Tracy Lee Karner:
        I don’t know if it’s available for sale any more. I do hope so as it’s a wonderful tape. Hope you find it. 😉

  4. Yikes! I don’t think I’ve had a moment like yours, but I’ve had similar, less scary situations where I’ve done things like driven past my street. What’s scarier is when you drive somewhere and then realize you don’t remember doing it because you were on autopilot.
    When I need to de-stress, if I can, I just take some time to read a novel. I do go to the gym regularly, too, but I know I’m fortunate to be able to make my own schedule.

    1. I agree, Merril, those autopilot moments are really unnerving.

      A novel sounds like a great way to unwind … unless it’s something like “The Shining.” Then, I’d be too tense to relax. 😉

      1. Sometimes getting scared like that is fun, too! 🙂

        comment from earthrider to merrildsmith:
        That must be why those movies are so popular. 😉

  5. I’m surprised I haven’t done that with my car before! I’m sure I will someday soon. When I get stressed, I like to go outside and just sit and gaze at the trees. I’m simple that way. I love the video you posted. I’m listening to it right now and I’m in heaven. My favorite thing in the world is to sit by a lake and listen to the birds.

    1. Darla … I’m glad you love the video. I find listening to the loons and the waves lapping next to a canoe to be very calming. One of my favorite nature trails near Syracuse, N.Y. is at Beaver Lake Nature Center. I once sat for 20 minutes and watched a Great Blue Heron – which I don’t think had moved the whole time. Then, strike … dinner tonight. 😉

  6. I once opened the fridge to discover my iron. The milk was, not surprisingly, in the linen closet. Judy, this is relatable on so many levels. Do you think people a few generations ago were this frazzled? They worked a lot harder, as a rule, physically I think, but I’m not sure they were so frenzied mentally. Maybe I’m looking back with rose-colored glasses. This video is amazing. The loons made my Max (Westie) raise his head and look about.

    1. Now, I have to admit, Barbara, that is something I haven’t YET done. The iron and the milk are exactly where they’re supposed to be. 😉

      I bet previous generations were probably too bone tired from their work to be mentally stressed out by juggling life like we do today. I’m delighted your Westie, Max, was captivated by the video. I always chuckle when I see my cats do that. 😉

  7. It is a scary thing to find yourself three exits further down the Thruway than the last time your mind clicked on what you were seeing out of the windshield, Judy. Yes, I admit that stress has led me there, too.

    I try to sit in my recliner and watch sports on TV to let it all go away.

    1. Mark … I’ve never gone as far as three exits, but it is maddening when you have to be somewhere at a specific time and you’ve driven 5 miles farther down the road than you intended. Been there multiple times.

      Tell Karen that Dr. Berman ordered you to sit on your recliner, quaff a beer and watch sports. She can join you if she likes or seek out her own method to thwart stress. 😉

  8. My insanely spaced-out day was a week ago, Judy, so I know exactly what you mean. Now, if I have another day and need to sit back, relax and unwind, I’ll come back to these wonderful pictures again, mentally step into them and take a deep breath. You’ve struck a chord, Judy!

    1. Listen to the video that’s linked here as well, Marilyn. It’s 23 minutes long, but you might find yourself smiling while you snooze to the sounds of nature long before it’s wrapped up. 😉

  9. My favorite place to unwind without leaving home is my front porch. A cup of tea accompanies me and I sip away my stress as I rock in my large, wicker rocking chair.

    1. A cup of tea is a great stress reliever no matter where you take it. Traci, I’ll follow up on that suggestion the next time I go out to our lanai. Ahhh! Soothes and refreshes. 😉

  10. What a great way to relax: read your post and then listen to the loon sounds. It didn’t take me 23 minutes to get into a restful mood, but I may need to click on it again before the day is out. The grand-children just left and though I enjoy them, I’m not just frazzled but dead tired.

    Thanks to this post I added two new phrases to an emotion I often feel: vegematic mode and fibro-fog. My antidotes? Deep breathing in my Pilates class as a short term fix and for an extended refresher, a trip to the mountains.

    1. Aren’t those loons the best, Marilyn? They do lift my mood and relax me. We’ve had our grandpuppy here for the week. While we’re getting out more for walkies, our two cats have questioned our favoritism: How come he gets to go out? Why does he have a shiny silver water dish and ours is ceramic? Yeah, that kind of stuff. So I get it with the grandkids. They just wear you out. 😉

      I am guessing that the term ‘vegematic’ originates with a product that chops up food. I use it to poke fun at me on the occasions when my brain’s not firing on all cylinders. 😉 I also had never heard of fibro-fog until Tracy Lee Karner mentioned it.

  11. I get in bed under the cover and stay put until the fog lifts somewhat. I turn the lights out and the tv volume down low. The flickering lights of the tv have a calming effect. I close my eyes and try to sort out at what moment the day went off the rails. I introduce music or turn the light on and read a few pages.

    1. Music, reading, crashing but not burning … are all great ideas Apple Pie and Napalm (aka peaceloverealcountrymusic). I would find any of those very soothing and a way to reduce the noise. 😉

  12. i’ve done the auto pilot drive before and it’s always eye-opening. for my unwind times, i go to a pretty place and walk, or out on my little back deck to read and write and listen to music or just the natural sounds around me )

    1. Beth … I have taken a few walks in an attractive wooded area with our grandpuppy this week. That was a refreshing getaway. Natural sounds are one way to tune out the chaotic sounds around us and tune into the beauty that surrounds us. Great ideas, all. 😉

  13. Well Mom, I can say that I have had those moments too. I have managed to lock my keys in car with it running at least 3 times, only I have gotten out and locked the door. Two of the times my spare was inside the car! So vegamaticness must run in our family. I have often missed exits because I was distracted as well.
    I will have to listen to your video later! I relax by just hanging out with my kittens and taking a nap.
    Love you!

    1. What? You’re saying you get your vegematic tendencies from who? Me? I deny any transfer of DNA on that count. 😉 I think Dave and I were with you one day when you locked yourself out of the car at Disney World. Always a good time!

      Jenn, listen and watch the video. It really is beautiful and calming. The scenes of mountains, lakes and loons are ones we don’t see here in Florida. Napping with the kitties is a good idea, too. 😉

  14. What a great story… and of course, you are voicing what most of us have experienced with brain overload. Your experiences are all too familiar. Rest and tranquility? I go to sit on my deck and stare out at the mountains, notice the wild critters like the deer and birds and bunnies, and I am transported. It helps. It really does. Thank you for sharing this post to remind me of how important it is to find respite from human chaos.

    1. I would love to join you on that deck, Dor. My favorite nature trail back home, Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, N.Y., was a favorite retreat. One visit, we saw a doe and her fawn bounce off the trail and into the woods .Doggone it. My camera was in the bag at the time. But the walk itself was invigorating and restful. Yes, we do need to stop and smell the roses. 😉

  15. Oh yes, I’ve had days like this too Judy! 🙂 In fact since I’ve had a blog or should I say several blogs, Twitter and Facebook I find I’m a lot more forgetful, and disorganised than I’ve ever been before. It’s shown up that I’m not the organised person I thought I was, I just wasn’t that busy before. If my head is too full, I’m like a lot of people I know, I’d forget my on head on my way out! It’s not a nice feeling, especially if it involves other people that you feel you’ve let down. We are all capable of completely losing it if we fill our heads too much. Not always easy to avoid, depends what is going on in your life.

    And I couldn’t really tell you what I do to get away from it all, maybe just have a short nap I guess!!

    Those Loons have a haunting but beautiful call, reminds me a little of a whale calling. Quite an emotional sound! I’m glad you pointed out they were birds! I had a conversation with another blogger a few weeks ago about the Loons, I’d never heard of them before. If I hadn’t had that conversation, I might have wondered if you hadn’t said! 😉 That’s a very relaxing and stunning sound video, I could quite easily drop off to that, thank you for the relaxation! 😀

    1. Suzy … Thank you for your reassuring comments. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who is so forgetful. 😉 Short naps work for me as well. Given my druthers, however, I’d want to be paddling in a canoe where I could see and hear those loons.

      Your description of the loons’ call is perfect. It is haunting and beautiful. On a comment above, I mentioned a tape – “Solitudes II,” narrated by Dan Gibson as he takes a canoe ride on Loon Lake. It’s very relaxing. After a while, I’m drifting into dreamland. I’m glad you enjoyed the video. 😉

  16. I’ve never done that with my car – that’s scary – but I do get a recurring dream where I can’t find my car in a multi story car park and that’s scary enough for me! Walking on the common or by the river is a good stress reliever for me.
    Interesting post and accompanying comments, Judy!

    1. I was just commenting to Sue on Daily Echo about dream analysis. She has an interesting write up. I always wonder when I get an odd dream … or different people and places all mixed together. Very odd.

      Jenny, I’d love to walk on the common by the river. I’ll bet that is relaxing. Thank you for your comments. 😉

  17. I’m so loving your post. Basking under it’s relaxing words, drifting to my version of inner calmness. Mine is a secluded beach 60 miles from my town by boat. I was still college when I saw it. Perhaps I ‘ll find it again this Summer. I believe the tides of fate brings us back to places we found bliss when we needed it the most. Happy Summer!

    1. I love your relaxing escape to that secluded beach, Island Traveler. I also believe that the tides of fate will bring us back to places where we found happiness when we most need it – if not physically, then definitely mentally and emotionally. Hope you and your family have a great summer. From your photos and last post, I’d say you’re already there. 😉

  18. It happens!! I have left my key on my front door once and returned to find it still dangling there thankfully! And my car window down another time 😉 Yoga does it for me Judy. Or some soothing music in a darkened room. The loon sounds would work perfectly!

    1. Glad I’m not the only one, Madhu. I locked myself out of my apartment twice and a friend had to break in – at my request. 😉 Yoga looks like it could be relaxing. I’d opt for the soothing music in a darkened room … or a tape with loon sounds. 😉

  19. I have had many of those days, Judy! Or even just little concentrated spurts of “really?! this too?!” I find that getting outside or singing really loud in my car helps me sort it all out in my head.

    1. Aussa … It’s been reassuring to know that I’m not the only one that’s fallen down a rabbit hole. Red pill or blue one? I’d go for loud singing in the car … or even just a nice snooze on a hammock that’s strung between two trees. 😉

  20. I work at home, so the only time I feel truly relaxed is when I’m away, with nothing I have to do and nowhere I have to be. It almost doesn’t matter where it is — although watching ducks or loons on a lake will always do the trick.

  21. There are times I’ve been driving where I’m so preoccupied, I don’t remember driving the route I just did. That’s when I realize I need to get a grip. For me, just going to a movie, watching a TV show, or reading fiction helps me regroup and find calm. Well, that and some chocolate. 😉

    Thanks for visiting my blog earlier today. Much appreciated!

    1. Hmmm. You had me at chocolate. Watching a movie or reading good fiction is just icing on the cake. All of those would help me find my calm center.

      Carrie … I really enjoy reading your blog, especially the part about tips on writing fiction. 😉

  22. I like different places to ‘go away,’ Judy. But if I have time, I enjoy the ocean, so New England down to Florida are great places for me to find my peace and harmony. If I don’t have more than a weekend, going to Lake Erie, is my ‘zen’ and my home for most of my growing up years. My Mom is the bonus person to see, along with my brothers. For escaping, going to the Ohio Wesleyan University, when classes are not in session, there are a lot of trees and benches to take a book and read on. I love the way you featured a trickling waterfall, I have enjoyed waterfalls around Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridges are awesome in KY. Smiles, Robin

    1. Robin … You have mentioned many places that I would love to see. They sound charming and wonderful places to relax in. We visited the waterfalls – pictured – at Watkins Glen State Park in New York. Just beautiful. It’s 1 1/2 miles – and 832 steps – of photo ops. Very refreshing. I also took a book and read a bit while seated on a deck overlooking Seneca Lake. Ahhhh! 😉

  23. Ha! Great story about the car. Just being in Utica, NY, can be disorienting– I know this from personal experience!!

    I dropped someone off at a hospital once. They were using a walker so I helped them in, got a wheelchair, found an elevator, took the person up to the second floor, fond the right room, and had been there for about 5 minutes, when I suddenly realized I’d left the car in the little drop-off lane, right in front of the hospital entrance!

    I hustled down, and there it was, with the passenger door still open. Fortunately, no one had pulled in behind it. In my haste to move it, I drove off with the passenger door still open! Yes, at that point I knew I was overdue for some quiet time– in a sanitarium!

    Living in the NH woods, I’m surrounded by beauty, peace, and quiet– so getting away from it all just means having enough sense to walk away from the computer and go outside. It’s the “having enough sense” part that I have trouble with… : (

    I’ve been to Watkins Glen State Park– a little-known gem and true stunner! Thanks for a very amusing and highly satisfying post, my dear Judy!! : )

    1. Yes, Utica is a lovely place to leave your car unlocked with keys in it. Thank you, Mark, for making me feel I’m not alone in my absentmindedness. 😆

      Lucky you to be so close to nature when you need to get away from it all.

      Just last week, Dave and I returned to Watkins Glen State Park when we visited Central New York. I re-introduced myself to the man who was the subject of my story on ‘one kind gesture’ on an anniversary we celebrated years ago. That story will run this Saturday, August 2nd.

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