404 Relax, Relate, Release

Relax, Relate, Release

Relax, Relate, Release

I am driven. When I want something, I go for it with head down, single-minded determination. It’s a gift and a curse. I have laser focus but I also have a tendency to lose perspective on the bigger picture. That’s when I have to stop, reevaluate and sometimes even change direction.

One of my favorite shows in the late 80s/early 90s was A Different World. It was a spin-off of The Cosby Show. One of the characters named Whitley had a mantra that I still use to this day:

Relax, Relate, Release

When she was confused, overwhelmed or stressed out, she would repeat that phrase. There is a lot of wisdom contained in those 3 words.


In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to get tense. Stress tightens muscles, becons headaches and produces (many times unnecessary) worries. The “go, go, go” mentality does not provide many moments for pause.

Many times I have to step away from a situation completely. Periodic downtimes away from the “normal schedule” are great ways to regain perspective.

Last week I disconnected from the blog world and social media to seek the Lord for some big decisions in my life. It was imperative that I unplug from the things that occupied most of my time. When I did that, I saw how immediately my stress level decreased and my focus increased.


Once disconnected, it was easier to put my situation into perspective. I could more effectively relate to my circumstances when I removed distractions.

One thing I realized was that just because I read tons of Christian blogs on a daily basis, it was no substitute for my own personal time with God. I made a lot of justifications that fell through once it was given a true evaluation. Spending intentional and focused time with the Lord was a drink of cold water to my parched spirit.

Without distractions, my prayers were lucid. My communication with God was markedly more effective without stopping every 2 minutes to respond to an email notification. More than speaking, I was able to listen to what God was saying. This was pivotal.

I don’t sit in front of my computer when I spend time with the ones I love. Why have I been doing it with God?


In an optimal environment, I was able to identify what I needed to release.

I find safety in control. When situations are out of my control, my first response is fear. Once I realized what was out of my control, I released it to God and gave Him my fears.

Another issue that came to the forefront is that I spend a LOT of time online. This wasn’t news to me and I don’t think it is the problem as much as a symptom. The root of the problem is how manage my time. I saw how I have been distracted from many of the other things that need attention in my life (namely my time with the Lord).

As I intentionally disconnected from every distraction, it was much easier to see those things which I thought were necessary as superfluous. I am cutting the fat out of my routine. I am letting some things go and I already feel much lighter.

I believe the key to this is not exactly balance but harmony or rhythm as some put it. I saw that my life song was out of tune. My rhthym of life was in staccato. By taking the time to relax, relate, release I have been able to get my groove back.

What do you do to relax, relate, release? Did you ever watch A Different World?


  1. Tony, this is another post that spoke deeply to me. I’ve been working so hard lately, I’ve been stressed and exhausted so that is directly impacting my time with God.
    I’ll soon be on vacation (May 9th), and I’m looking forward to this time to focus on God and get His help to make important decisions. I can’t go on as it is now…
    I’m saving this post to Evernote, I intend to get back to it again and again as needed.
    Thanks again, Tony, for an inspired post.

  2. Lot’s of wisdom in those three words.

  3. Lot’s of wisdom in those three words.

  4. I cook, or take photos… the cooking part gives my Gumpee the happy. It’s a newly discovered talent, and because he is so encouraging (even when I cook, like, red-wine steak that turns out purple and the sauce looks like grape jelly) – it inspires me to cook more πŸ™‚ which makes him even more happy… and both of us fat, but you know… it’s all good in the hood πŸ™‚

  5. Sarah Hazlewood says:

    OUCH! Tony- can you help me pull this arrow out of my chest? LOL
    Thanks, brother- that was an eye opener!

    Oh- and I LOVED that show!

  6. Good words Tony. I watched that show and really enjoyed it. I always like Whitely because she was a driven. There was something about her character I just really liked.
    Like you I am extremely driven, planned out and purposeful. I am horrible about scheduling down time and taking a break, unfortunately I have to when my body wears out and I get sick. When I do want to relax I either head to the beach or go for a hike. That is where I always connect and get recharged from God.

    • The same happens with me. Sometimes it takes me getting sick to step back and pull away. I want to make a habit of regularly pulling away from everything before it’s too late.

  7. Never watched the show, but I sure like the post! Thanks, Tony!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I should have read this earlier today. πŸ™‚ Awesome post, Tony J!

  9. Awesome stuff man, and that mantra IS key. I try and tickle the ivories a bit, or even do some charcoal drawings. I take a moment and see what I create, or listen to the song He puts on my heart, and bam all is well, until the kids fight and then I just go outside and run. To be honest, I kind of have been feeling the same way, especially when you pointed out a week or 2 ago how many blogs you subscribe to, and I was not that far behind you.

    Whitley, with that super-southern accent. Definitely watched that, as well as any movies Denise Huxtable was in…


  10. Awesome post, Tony.
    Thank you for the reminder. With the stress of juggling work, family and school and definitely need this perspective trifecta.

  11. I can still hear her saying that in that WAY exaggerated southern accent. Too funny! (Although, what were you when this show aired, five?)

  12. I can relate, but it’s the release I have trouble finding. Relaxing is aided by pharmaceuticals. (I’m actually kidding about that, mostly πŸ˜‰ )

    Good stuff, brother.

  13. Excellent post. Love the pop cultural connection and I loved Whitley back in the day.

    I have a variety of things I do to relax from online games to fishing to hunting to just hanging with my family. Relate is something I need to concentrate on more on in my life. I am pretty good at releasing things that get in the way.

  14. Great post man. I’ve been finding the same thing. I feel stressed out bc I’m missing my friends’ posts. Been trying to step back a little. I dont just want to write…I was to affect response and change.

  15. Sometimes it’s necessary to just drop everything and do what is beneficial for your soul. The running around and the lack of rhythm hurts us in more ways than one. Often times I find that business is the enemy of the Christian.

    • For sure man. Business for the sake of doing something is definitely dangerous. It’s so easy to get caught up and waste time. If I were to count the hours I’ve played Call of Duty: Black Ops, I would cower in shame!

  16. Good stuff, dude.

  17. Dude…loved that show! This is a great reminder. I love how you find stuff like this – then relate it to healthy livin’.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Great words of wisdom here. Something I need to heed more often, that is for sure!

  19. never even heard of that show…sorry

    I tend to call someone. Usually my dad or mom. In times of high stress or frustration they do a great job of listening and then reflecting back what I am saying and then providing me a chance to vent and move on.

    That is how I relax, relate and then release

    • I’m definitely dating myself with that show. It was a classic though.

      Bouncing your thoughts off of those that you trust is definitely a good way to pull back and get perspective. I did that this week and my eyes were opened to stuff that was right under my nose!

  20. Relax = Get Outside/Quiet Time
    Relate = Listen/Reflect
    Release = Gym/Run/Wokout

    That how it works for me, and I have never seen A Different World…

  21. Dude, another awesome pop parable!!! πŸ™‚ I looooooooooved that show. Still catch a rerun every now and then.

    So many good nuggets here, Tony. I can sense that you obviously heard from Him in some big ways this past week. I love when folks take a bloggy sabbatical and return to share what happened.

    What struck me: One thing I realized was that just because I read tons of Christian blogs on a daily basis, it was no substitute for my own personal time with God.

    I’ve been duping myself into thinking that, too. But, just like Splenda always has that yucky aftertaste, real sugar always tastes better. Solid time in the Word and in His presence, undistracted is a MUST for me. Thanks for challenging me on that, Tony.

    • I know! I’m infringing on your territory! Yes, God really did speak to me in a lot of ways this past week. I don’t have any definite decisions on some things but I do have MUCH more peace about it than I did with all the noise and business.

      Are you calling my blog splenda?? πŸ˜‰

  22. Great post. And It’s a Different World had one of the best opening song/sequences in the history of ever.

    “One thing I realized was that just because I read tons of Christian blogs on a daily basis, it was no substitute for my own personal time with God.”

    How true is this? I substitute all kinds of things for my time with God and think it should be all good.
    but it isn’t.

    • β™ͺ I know my parents love me β™«

      YES! Loved that show. But for real man, it was crazy how many blogs I was reading on a daily basis. And I just wouldn’t spend the morning doing it. All day I was reading and commenting. Actually pulling away made me realize how much time it was taking.

      I need to prioritize a bit so I’m releasing some stuff so I can focus on what’s most important. But don’t worry, I’m still reading your stuff bro! πŸ˜‰

  23. I have nothing insightful to add but an “amen”. So I just hit the like button. πŸ˜‰

  24. I never watched A Different World… but loved the Cosby Show. Actually, the first thing that came to mine was Seinfeld’s The Serenity Now episode… oh Frank Costanza, how I love thee.

    To RRR, sometimes I just need to lay on the couch and just sit there – think about my day, sort through the thoughts going through my head, and pray.

    • Yes! I was thinking of the same thing with the Serenity Now episode. I would venture to say that The Cosby Show and Seinfeld are neck and neck in the race for best sitcom of all time.

  25. I think it’s really cool that you realized that you needed to disconnect in order to do what you needed to do.
    For me I do a few things. I turn off my phone. It literally rings off the hook. And if it’s not ringing I get a crazy amount of text messages. I also put the laptop in the other room. So that I’m not tempted to turn it on.
    The final thing I do is go for walks. Man when I go for a walk it’s my way of letting all the burdens I carry go.

    • I’ve found that I pray best when I take long walks. So often I’m tempted to pray until I run out of things to talk about then stop. When I’m out walking, I can’t just stop when I’m done because I have to go back. When I stop talking, God starts talking. Soon enough, I’m praying again for things that I had never even thought of. I really need to establish that as a regular thing.

  26. I sleep to relax, only way with 2.9 kids, relate is I listen and release is usually with soccer!


  1. […] Relax, Relate, Release, Tony shares a pop parable from one of my fav sitcoms of all time, A Different World. Speaking […]

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