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By Laurel Pattenden

March is a month that, even though it takes up one twelfth of our year, it tends to feel neither here nor there. The weather is usually unpredictable yet always soggy. It doesn’t seem to comply to either winter or spring.

These thoughts about March have led me to risk non-compliance with my agreement to the editor of Huron Church News. Yes, I’m being a rebel!

There will be no column written for March. The space on the back of page twelve, like the month of March, will be neither here nor there. Not to worry for me, as my pay will remain neither here nor there also. Thank you for your concern.

This March I have decided to just relax my jaw. Jaw Relaxing, my new sport, is going to replace a few of the things that I habitually carry around month to month. Worry, which is a useless, little gland that floats around the body at will, is one of them. Do you have a worry gland? Yes? Mine happens to be located in my jaw. Where is your worry gland located?

Stomach? Did you know that the worry gland can swell when overused just like every other gland in the body. Interesting, eh? A swollen gland!

So, I am taking myself out of the old game for March. No column! Jaw Relaxing is the new game. “How do you plan to play this new game?” you may ask. Here are the rules. You can start by using what you have. For me it starts out by dusting off some old Valdy vinyls and singing along. It is very hard to sing with a clenched jaw. Try singing with a clenched jaw and you will find it near impossible. You do not need to use Valdy vinyls.

However, why you wouldn’t is beyond me. I have decided to also add exhaling to my new game. Have you like me been holding your breath for two years? Definitely, not good for jaw relaxing. Other than training for underwater swimming there is not much value in it. We are dizzy enough in this world without holding our breath. Perhaps we need to subscribe to online Pandemic Lamaze breathing lessons so we can birth a new energy and attitude. All invited! Sorry no column, busy exhaling.

Another part of jaw relaxing that I am taking quite seriously is getting rid of the word “should”.

I have noticed that no matter how many times I use it towards myself I don’t feel any happier. Even when I use the word “should” directed at other people it doesn’t make me any happier nor them. Using the word “should” is a real jaw breaker. The more times I use it the more tense my jaw. Does your worry gland swell with the “should” word? Mine does! Especially in this thought “you should be writing a column for March”! Oh, exhale! Release jaw!

Do you worry because you are not worrying? Yeah, I get that. Always waiting for the next shoe to drop? Of course! Worrying can become a habitual way of thinking. I need to trade in my worried thoughts for my new game of “Jaw Relaxing”. Sing a new song, probably Valdy. Exhale the worry and let in fresh, oxygenated thoughts. Get back to writing a column for April, not because I should, but because I would like too.

However, the most important rule of my Jaw Relaxing game is to always remember that I sit in the palm of God’s hand. I need to remember that! There is no worry while sitting there. Remain aware of that! Can you remember this rule? Sorry about no column this month but I wanted you to know about my new game.  

Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.   

(Illustration: Laurel Pattenden, NEITHER HERE NOR THERE, Acrylic, 2020)