A message to Ohioans: R-E-L-A-X

Christina Ryan Claypool - Contributing Columnist

What do a dying woman, an NFL quarterback, and most Ohioans have in common? An important message about the need to relax.

It was my great-aunt who first taught me not to stress over little things or issues out of one’s control. It was probably the last time I saw Aunt Annamarie alive, because she was in her final days. My late mother and I were visiting this salt-of-the-earth Ohio farmwoman who had always been a family matriarch. Despite her impending death, Annamarie seemed as calm as ever when she shared this sage advice with my mom who often moved too fast.

“You have to learn to relax” were my aunt’s final words of guidance while lying contentedly in her own bed. Thanks to a local hospice organization she was able to “relax” in her own comfortable environment, despite the ravages of terminal cancer.

I stood at the end of the bed allowing my mother and Annamarie to say their goodbyes. Although this parting wisdom from a lady who had weathered a lot of storms was probably intended for me as well. I had inherited the trait of not stopping to smell the roses from Mom. In the years that followed, whenever I became overly anxious or overwhelmed by a too-full schedule, my aunt’s perceptive words would echo in my mind.

Then at the beginning of the 2014 football season, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had this same practical instruction for nervous fans, worried about the team’s 1-2 record and his own less-than-stellar performance. “Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X,” said Rodgers. “Relax. We’re going to be okay.”

The 2014 season results proved to fulfill Rodgers’ prediction, ending with 12 wins and 4 losses, and another NFC North division title. Yet, Rodgers didn’t offer this same message this year when he broke his collarbone, and had to sit out seven consecutive games, with the Packers ending their season with a dismal seven wins and nine losses for what is normally a championship team.

Like a quarterback with a broken collarbone, winter in Ohio can be a real show-stopper with impassable roads and sub-zero temperatures. Even the heartiest of souls can get a little anxious, especially when you’re not used to it.

A lot of us have gotten as “soft” as an out-of-shape athlete, since the winter of 2016-17 was unseasonably warm. “Temperatures averaged well above normal while snowfall totals were less than normal,” reported the website www.weathersafety.ohio/gov.

This year, initially Ohioans were optimistically “holding their breath” concerning the possibility of another mild winter. After all, even 2015-16 was more than an average temperature of five degrees higher than usual. But a metaphorical intake of air became an icy gasp just before Christmas 2017, when winter made a thunderous appearance with ice, snow, and plummeting temperatures.

Meteorology certainly has become a genuine science with predictions so accurate they assist people in preparation for the latest icy blast that’s headed our way. If you’re a Boomer or beyond, you probably remember the days decades ago, when a forecast was more like a guessing game that no one put too much stock into.

Now, if the TV weatherperson, iPhone weather app, or Weather Channel website predicts a snowstorm, we run like a pack of hungry wolves to our local grocery and stock up on essentials. Some individuals also visit the video store, and others the library for entertainment items. Then often we fretfully wait for whatever is predicted to hit.

Here’s where my late great-aunt and an NFL quarterback’s advice can come in handy, because there is absolutely nothing we can do to dissuade Mother Nature from pelting us with a good one. Instead, we have to trust that we will get through it, like we always have.

Remember the historic Blizzard of 1978? Four decades ago, this worst storm to ever hit Ohio took the lives of more than 50 Ohioans. From Jan. 25 through Jan. 27, 1978, “between one and three feet of snow fell in Ohio….Winds averaged between 50 and 70 miles per hour, creating snowdrifts as deep as 25 feet. With temperatures hovering near zero, the wind chill was deadly…” reports www.historycentral.org.

Many of us lived through that winter, and hopefully this one should be a breeze in comparison. So let’s all, “R-E-L-A-X. It’s just January in Ohio.


Christina Ryan Claypool

Contributing Columnist

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.