Summer got a slow start around here – the school year dragged on until the end of June because of our snowy winter and Mother Nature held back on real summer weather for much longer than is typical. Yet here we are, halfway through July, and summer feels suddenly like it’s in full swing and I am having fun!
Honestly, I think I love everything about this season. I love the longer days that allow me to again get up with the sun rather than before it and to be outdoors until almost bedtime. I love the slower pace that happens both in my work and personal lives. I love the fact that, not only are my college-aged kids home, but all my kids have fewer demands on their days so we’re spending more time together. My yard this time of year makes me happy – whether I’m working in it or looking out the window and enjoying all the colors. Thanks to my yoga practice, I have even learned to love humidity, which works like a charm to make a stiff girl feel a little more bendy.
As happens in the midst of all “feel good” times – relaxing vacations, fun-filled days carved out of busy weeks, really meaningful conversations, and (apparently) even seasons – a part of me wonders if there is a way to carry some of these feelings with me into the rest of my life.
While I know neither the weather nor the pace of summer days is sustainable beyond August, I do think there is a mindset I can hold onto as the days start to get shorter and my kids head back to school. This summer, I am taking very seriously the assignment my spiritual director gave me when I saw her last month: “Say ‘yes’ to all the fun that comes your way.” In fact, you could say it’s been my mantra for the season.
While this may not be a hard instruction for you to follow, for some reason it can be a tough one for me. Perhaps this struggle is due my deep and abiding love of To Do lists. Perhaps it is a result of my daily “early to bed, early to rise” routine. Perhaps it is because I actually really (really!) love my work, so I have a hard time stopping. Who knows? I’m actually not sure it matters because if you share this challenge with me, your reasons will be your own.
What does saying yes to fun look like, you ask? Let me give you a few glimpses from the last seven days of my summer:
- When my daughter asks if I’d like to take a break from my laptop to spend 43 minutes watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy with her, I say yes.
- When my friend calls to say she thinks she can get tickets to hear The Zac Brown Band next Thursday night, rather than checking my calendar to see what Friday holds, I just say “Absolutely!”
- When my dogs turn left for a second swim in the creek instead of right to head up the hill home, I smile and say “Why not?”
- When what I really want to read is a sudsy beach book instead of the award winning novel everyone is talking about, I don’t even think twice.
It turns out that saying yes to fun is fun! (Duh.) Less obviously, it turns out that saying yes to fun doesn’t mean that my classes aren’t getting taught or that my personal yoga practice isn’t getting done or that the bills aren’t getting paid or that the meals aren’t being cooked or that I’m not in the throes of re-imagining my website. Because all of this is still happening. (Well, most of the meals are getting cooked. Some nights saying yes to the fun has meant saying yes when my daughter asks for take-out Indian food. Hardship, I know.)
My point is, this summer assignment has revealed that there is always room in any day (yes, ANY day) to say “YES!” to a little fun. This, I believe, is a joy of this particular summer that I suspect is sustainable no matter the season.
So, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to do as my spiritual director says – say “yes!” to the fun that comes your way this summer. While you’re at it, consider doing as I’m doing – think of these summer weeks as a time of practice so that saying “yes!” to fun will be a well-engrained habit by the time the season changes again.