I got the new Vineyard Vines catalog in the mail. One of its pages teased: 92 summer days ahead. I couldn’t help wonder if whoever wrote that sent their kids to Catholic School. I checked my own school calendar for accuracy and calculated we only have 68 days of summer. How’s that for a penance?
I don’t know why this struck me anyway. Maybe it was all the crystal blue water splashed on the pages selling pastel-colored polo shirts for $85 a pop. But, I couldn’t stop thinking of that number. It was so finite. So, use it or lose it. While summer has not officially started, I can’t help but feel a little panicked about its inevitable passing. It reminds me of how fast all of life is passing. I wonder how many whale logo purchases it would take for me to slow down and have some of those carefree moments like the people in the catalog.
I was grateful to Shep and Ian for reminding me to embrace the days ahead that sprawl out like a bath towel on the beach. Too short. While I don’t love lists because I can never find them after I make them, I made a plan for summer that would make any whale smile.
Forget about being mindful: Lord have mercy. There is so much pressure to be in the moment. I lost a great bulk of my mind during childbirth and what’s left of it doesn’t want to focus on putting a fork in the dishwasher. Most of what I do is just not that interesting and I know that would probably make Oprah sad for me. However, the season of life I am in is hurried and hectic, mundane and meaningful, and relies heavily on mercy and grace. So, I don’t have a lot left for mindfulness. Instead, let your minds wander. We use to do this as children — boredom would breed great imaginings, inventions, and undiscovered places. Let your minds drift away to a happy memory, a hope for the future, or a childhood dream. This makes putting a fork in the dishwasher so much more pleasant.
Focus on coming home not going away: This is a sad story. Last summer we came home from a great family vacation and on our first day back I cried. This was not because I missed my cats. It was because when we got home one son went into the office and played Fortnight. The other watched a movie on his phone in the living room. My husband and I were in the family room — he on his iPad and me on my laptop. No one was crooning country songs in unison like we had in our rental car. No one was sharing junk food like we had in our hotel room beds. No one was laughing, talking, or connecting. (I told you, it was a sad story). Instead of focusing on getting away, I want to put my energy into creating the family life I want us to have the other 50 weeks of the year that we spend in our homes. I want to bring back game night, go on evening boat rides, and have ordinary conversations that meander like a maze of marsh cutting a path through stale waterways. If only for 68 days, I want time that is unhurried and unfettered from the responsibilities that anchor us to the busyness during the rest of the year.
Who cares if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere: I can’t relax and enjoy time when I am constantly aware of its tick. We are an over-scheduled people and summer is the time to get over that. I love a good routine as much as the next girl, but for the summer I am packing up my circus act. I can’t tell you what I will be doing because I don’t want to have plans. I don’t want to wait until five p.m. to have a happy hour. I’m not talking about being drunk all summer either people! I am saying I want every hour to be happy. I want the notion of time to just drift out to sea.
Be an island in the stream: Islands in the Stream is one of my favorite songs ever. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton are uber cool and Vineyard Vines should pay them extravagantly to wear their whale shirts. Although can you imagine? (I am going to ponder that the next time I put a fork in the dishwasher!) We are all so connected now – sometimes too connected. Too plugged in. Too addicted to our screens. Float away for a little while and reconnect with yourself, God, and what matters. It’s hard to do that when we are always with other people, always sharing, always comparing. Go be an island for a while and get to know yourself again. A whole other world awaits. Who knows – maybe you’ll even encounter something as big as a whale.
NOTE FROM ME: So what I love most about mercy is when I am brave enough to show myself some and take a break. It can feel scary to do this — as if everything I have worked for will fall apart, I will let everyone down, and like I am just being a big, fat slacker. But God’s mercy is my Ace card and at least for a few weeks, I need to lay it down. (I hope that is a good metaphor because UNO has always been my forte — but it would sound kind of weird to say I am going to lay down my Wild Draw 4 card). My manuscript is due at the end of this summer and I want it to be the very best it can. I want ya’ll to love it. I also want to enjoy the last summer I will likely have with both my babies at home. I just need to be an island in the stream for a bit and mercy whispers that’s okay.
Also, I am super excited to let you know that I will be speaking about “How the joy of the Lord is my strength” at a women’s event hosted by Southside Methodist Church. If you live in the Jacksonville, Florida area, I would LOVE to see you on Wednesday, June 12 at 6 p.m. You can register for the event here. Please, please come hang out with me! And, more than anything please make every minute of your sweet summer count.
Last week’s post here.