Pick your favourite chair, and sit in it

My favourite chair is a soft one. And an old one.

I love to sink deep into its comfortable arms and rest my head on its high-cushioned back. Then roll up the footstool, stretch out my feet, take a deep breath, and relax.

Sometimes I sip coffee and sometimes I take a nap. But most of the time, I just have fun reading a book or a magazine. It’s the most relaxing thing in the world to do.

For 70 years, Edwin Shoemaker has had a favourite chair. A chair to recline in. A chair to take a nap in or read a book in. A chair from which to watch television and eat popcorn. A chair that Edwin Shoemaker himself designed and named.

Then last month at age 90, Shoemaker sat down for an afternoon nap in his favourite La-Z-Boy and drifted away never to return. It’s hard to imagine a better way to go.

In the beginning, Shoemaker and his cousin, Edward Knabusch, worked with borrowed money in a garage in their hometown of Monroe, Mich. Shoemaker was an inventive genius and Knabusch was an equally talented marketer.

Together they made a great team.

The young men, hardly more than boys, used a piece of plywood and a yardstick to design a reclining wooden lawn chair and then tried to sell it, only to be told that furniture dealers preferred something softer for their customers to sit on and a chair that would sell year-round.

And that’s when their upholstery business began.

Early on, the astute young men understood perfectly that there really is something in a name and they ran a naming contest.

Their new invention might have been called the Sit-N-Snooze or the Slack-Back or the Comfort Carrier. But something inside me says that none of those names could have built a furniture empire that would in 1997 gross $1 billion in sales.

No, it would take a name like La-Z-Boy to build an empire like that.

When Shoemaker was named to the American Furniture Hall of Fame in 1992, he was credited with bringing Detroit’s methods of mass production to the furniture industry, and having “a hand in the design and construction of every La-Z-Boy plant.”

In addition, he was called the “Father of Motion Furniture.”

So if you’re lucky enough to own a La-Z-Boy, why not give thanks for creative people like Edwin Shoemaker every time you rock, recline, lift, slide, pop-up, or lower a part of your chair. And especially when you experience a warm massage on your lower back.

At 90, Shoemaker had outlived both his cousins and his cousin’s son, Charles Knabusch, chief executive of La-Z-Boy, who died suddenly last summer at age 57 while playing golf in North Carolina.

Until the day he died, Shoemaker believed firmly in relaxation but not in sloth. He did, however, believe that a hard day’s work should be rewarded with “the world’s best chair” for the worker to relax in.

And it was without doubt his understanding of our deep desire to find that special place–a healing chair in which to relax–that made Edwin Shoemaker both rich and famous.

So don’t be afraid to exercise your right. Choose a chair and make it yours. Then sit in it with your feet up, a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, and a book on your lap whenever you need rejuvenating.

It’s the best way you’ll ever find to get yourself ready for the tasks ahead.