When my son was seven years old, he was trying to balance. One minute he was excitedly saying, “Look, mom, I found the spot!” Moments later, mid-wobble, he said, “Oh, wait. I lost the spot.” Of course, it was losing it I related too.
Somewhere in the zig-zag of daily life is the sweet spot where we teeter in balance between work and rest, fun and fulfilling, and, social and silence. It seems sometimes like we live in a world of extremes. We have tiny houses and McMansions, hoarders and minimalists, and fast food and the slow-food movement. There is polarization in almost every category of modern life. Perhaps it is our obsession with busyness, where this extreme has become most evident. Busyness has become a badge that says my career is at a crescendo, my family is an extracurricular expert, and my personal life is a page-turner. But are we really living a harlequin-romance novel amidst kids and career, or are we huffing and puffing from here to there, texting our spouses our agendas and their assignments, as we scurry our kids to their next activity?
The other day I was rushing my son to an orthodontist appointment when I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the car window I was squeezed between. To my dismay, I was only wearing one hoop earring. I looked like a rogue pirate without the talking parrot companion. Instead, I had a teenage boy who doesn’t speak as my counterpart. He only repeats “okay,” “I know,” and “fine,” as a series of responses. “Polly wants a cracker,” has become, “Mamas going to go crackers if she doesn’t hear a complete sentence soon!” (But that’s another conversation for another bottle of wine, as a good of friend of mine likes to say.) Read more
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. Read more
In grade school, at the beginning of the school year, students are often asked to write about their summer vacation. However, as the sun begins to set on the season, I am contemplating how to live like its summer all year long.
After all, some of the most important lessons in life are learned in the summer, away from the routine and rigor that may be necessary, but is nothing like a day at the beach.
Here are my top five ways to live like its summer – no writing required:
Be a tourist: You don’t have to wear a camera around your neck to capture the best of life. You just need the perspective of a curious tourist excited to learn, explore, discover, and indulge. Be open to new experiences, people, points of view, and cultures. There’s a whole world out there, so be willing to get outside of yours and pursue new opportunities, meet new people, and share new adventures. Read more
I like the month of June because I finally have time to think about new year’s resolutions. I can’t deal with them at the end of December when I am recovering from the Christmas frenzy. The months that follow feel like I am running just ahead of falling dominos. But now that summer is officially here, my year sprawls out in front of me like a beach towel on the sand. (Okay, half a beach towel.)
I am feeling so optimistic, I bought a new calendar. It was no easy feat, since apparently most stores quit selling them by the time Cupid starts shooting arrows through month-old resolutions to get its candy on the shelves.
I want to be on fire for God, but sometimes I feel more like the worn edges of two sticks that were furiously rubbed together but never produced a spark.
We aren’t even halfway through the year, and I have been to four funerals in almost as many months. I have tried to find light from each of the lives I mourned, to formulate a takeaway, some kind of life lesson that will make sense of all this sorrow. I did okay at first, feeling a heightened gratitude for my own life and the people in it.
The gift of death is that it edges life, delineating what matters most. Because of the sorrow, we see clearer, act more deliberately, and love more purposely. All the unimportant things that sent us into a frenzy are momentarily deemed inconsequential. The stark contrast between life and death gives us a clearer perspective and realigns priorities. Read more