• Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Taking the Pressure Off


After a very quiet and lazy Christmas holiday, I am finding it hard to get in gear. I am probably not alone.


When someone wants something finished immediately, I find myself pushing back. "Wait a minute…I have other things on my plate, too." But, when I want something completed, I want it now! Being more understanding of the needs of others is something I need to work on.

A small portion of my research work for the manuscript

This week I have been focused on writing projects, but I have spent more time worrying about getting to them and finishing them than sitting down and actually writing. I’ve been scheduling and rescheduling, making plane reservations, researching, going down rabbit holes (interesting holes but ones that take a lot of time), and having meetings about more projects that don’t have anything to do with my manuscript.


My response to that accumulation of "must do" items was to get away and do something different and fun. So I went to the Jacksonville Zoo.

It was a perfect January day. Crisp, but warm enough. Sunny, with only the wispiest of clouds.


My friend and I had a lovely time walking the paths lined with flowers and green plants. Much was blooming, and everything looked fresh and beautiful. It didn’t feel like January. She told me about her travels to many of the places the animals were from, where she had seen them in the wild. We talked about the circus of long ago, and how we are glad that the animals no longer have to perform there.

The animals were enjoying the sunny spots, although were not particularly active. It almost didn’t matter if they were there at all because it was a stellar day and we could walk for as long as our feet held out. The Jacksonville Zoo is a beautiful place to enjoy the out of doors, animals or not.


I didn’t go in the snake house. They are just not my thing. I enjoyed the tiny frogs in the frog house. The poison arrow frogs were hard to spot but cute (from behind the glass).


The birds in the aviary were busy and the kookaburra was the noisiest of them all. He was laughing and enjoying getting the attention.


The reticulated giraffes were fun to observe and I compared the size and color of their brown spots; the babies were of course adorable. The lone male’s pattern was distinctive, along with his coloring. He sat, surrounded by his women.

The bears and big cats alternated pacing and sleeping. There isn't much else for them to do. My heart went out to them for it seemed they, too, were feeling underproductive, pressured, and obviously confined. The tiger came over to the glass and peed at us, marking his restricted territory. I wish I could have given them all a day away.


It was a great place to walk and think and just enjoy being somewhere different, although I couldn't help but feel a little sad for the animals behind bars.

On the way home, we stopped at a fish camp for a late lunch of Mayport shrimp. I felt renewed and ready to face chores, do some serious writing, and begin preparing for the week ahead. Sometimes you just need a different experience to help clear your head to begin anew and be free to do something for yourself.


Some years ago, I stopped making New Year's resolutions that I never kept. Instead, my goal is to continue to be productive, enjoy learning, be kind to others, and to stay healthy and active. Next time I put too much pressure on myself, I’ll go to the zoo. Enjoy a great beginning to your new year.






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