It’s okay to take a break: Sun Messages

Maria Shine Stewart

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — I’m sorry I missed you last week, Hillcrest-area readers. Here is the unvarnished truth: the “eyes had it.” (Bad pun … but have you ever heard of a good pun?) I was managing a large set of detailed projects, concerned about family and dealing with stressors in my life that would not budge.

So, I forgot to take a break. And I worked more. And I forgot to take another break. And this pattern continued a while.

In class while teaching, my eyes proved they had it…in other words, had been overloaded with projects. And they acted up accordingly.

Do you know what any part of the body can do when you deprive it too long of a break? It’s a little like what a feisty toddler does (like climbing onto the counter, precipitously perched and reaching for the cookie jar) or even what a pet might do (like chewing up the prized earphones) when you forgot their break.

These are not just hypothetical musings, you know. One time that very toddler ended up taking one bite out of several cookies. Peanut butter cookies. As in “allergic to peanut butter.” As in “intended for the holiday party.” And one time the sweet brown dog (think: my buddy, Robin) indeed caused what looked like a snowstorm on the couch when she discovered the headphones. The headphones that cost xxx dollars.

Need I say more?

My body, my right eye in particular, decided to play Thor, hurler of thunderbolts, with first an ocular migraine and then another problem that needed immediate relief. Don’t learn things the hard way. Rather: Take it easy. Or at least easier.

20-20-20? Some say the excitement of “back to school” need not dim if school is remote. I have to say though, it might be wise to try the 20-20-20 rule if you are experiencing visual fatigue. Have you heard of it? The adage goes something like this: Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break by looking 20 feet into the distance. According to, this tip was popularized by Dr. Jeff Anshell, who specializes in “vision ergonomics.” Even if you’ve never heard of that vowel-laden phrase, you might figure out that “ergo” has a double life — it’s not strictly Latin for “therefore.”

Ergonomics is a word coined for workplace conditions that take into account capabilities and limitations of a worker. Attention to ergonomics can reduce damage or injury to the body — and promote creative flow and productivity.

Eye strain, like neck, back, or wrist strain, is nothing to be sneezed at, to use a very mixed metaphor. The same trusty computer that allows us to traverse vast distances might force us to be fixated on a narrow frame of reference within a box that is within another box. Or a box within a rectangle and both within a square. And we may be sitting on another rigid square mismatched to the height of the desk when our muscles yearn to stretch, and we yearn to move.

Eyes are round. And the world, too. Let light in. Scan the whole panorama! Let your eyes wander and wonder. Get up, stretch, walk. You’ll get back on track. And if you do not do so immediately, perhaps you needed that break.

If I can remember to let my eyes roam, like the buffalo do in that song, and I’m working at home, I can see my favorite tree that announces every change of season.

Or I can skim my in-box for your latest Sun Message!

Valuing safety. Brush High School recently joined a group of 700 schools from across the U.S. to receive a health and safety kit through the support and partnership of the True Value Foundation and locally owned South Euclid True Value Hardware store. As part of the company’s Educational Heroes Safety Campaign, True Value Foundation and True Value retailers have joined forces to support youth education by providing resources to keep staff and students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Carter Welo, owner of South Euclid True Value Hardware and husband of South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo, personally delivered an assortment of health and safety products to Brush High School on September 8. Valued at approximately $1,109.26, the supplies included hand sanitizer, cleaning solutions, KN-95 masks and hand soap. This generous donation shows what we all value: Collaboration, caring, and being prepared at a difficult time.

A learning arc. You’ve heard of a learning curve. What about a learning Arc? Those in the know grasp the pun. Students and staff in the South Euclid-Lyndhurst schools officially began the 2020-2021 school year remotely on Tuesday, September 8. I’m with you, Arcs and SE-L teachers; I’ve had to go that route with my own college classes. Are you tired of puns yet? Even: “the Brush of minds?” Don’t groan too long. There was “robust distribution of educational materials and Chromebooks” according to a district press release. And as the release put it so well “Go Arcs!”

Don’t keep me in the dark. We need to hear of your lighter moments, Hillcrest readers! Share good news, events and accomplishments with

Sun Messages columnist Maria Shine Stewart

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