from the blog

The Summer of Ease

I did something I’ve never done before this summer: I set out on the summer with no goals.  Nothing I planned to accomplish.  

Actually, that’s not entirely true.  I had two goals: to read a lot and to work on my tan.  (This is embarrassing, but true.  I have pasty white skin that tends to turn lobster red when I go in the sun the summer.  This summer I wanted to do something about that.  I wanted to work on my tan a little every day so that I could actually have something like a tan by the end of the summer.  But more on that later.)

I love a list, a plan, a goal to work toward.  Initially, I had planned to finish the first draft of my book this summer.  But when summer actually arrived I was exhausted in a way I’d never been before.  My difficult year had left me spent and running on fumes.  So many people told me I should take a break (including doctors), that I finally agreed to take it as a sign from the Universe and listen.  

So I did.  At first, it was weird and confusing.  My kids left for camp on that first morning, and I grabbed my book and headed outside (so as to work on both of my goals), and I felt like “Really?  Shouldn’t I go sit at my desk?  Should I bring my computer with me just in case?”  But I resisted those calls and laid down on my sun chair with my book.  (It helped that I was really a great book that I couldn’t put down.  I highly recommend Normal People, by Sally Rooney.). It felt kind of subversive and awesome.  Totally foreign, but in a cool way.

A few days later, I felt more accustomed to this new plan.  I stopped feeling like there was something else I “should” be doing, and I let go into my new plan for ease.  I still had plenty of daily responsibilities.  I still did stuff, but having a goal of ease really changed the way I approached my days.  I let go of my well-honed concentration on productivity and output, and tried to enjoy my days, which I knew would pass quickly, like those of every summer before.    

I gradually started to feel a little more relaxed, but I didn’t realize the massive effect of my Summer of Ease until, a few days before leaving our vacation, I opened up my journal and reread a passage that I had written in June.  I was talking about how exhausted I was, how spent; how I barely felt like I could keep going.  And, though I remembered feeling like that, I noticed as I scanned my body, that I didn’t feel this way anymore!  My plan had worked!

When I returned home, I was excited to get back to my desk, to get back to my routine, and to get back to writing for this blog.  Taking time to enjoy the summer, to read, and to focus on relaxing had done what I’d hoped it’d do— it breathed life back into me and gave me more energy to work on the projects I care about.  

It was a great lesson for someone who tends to work through just about every vacation— taking time off is key.  And it makes you better, not worse, at what you want to accomplish.

As for my tan, despite spending a little bit of time in the sun every day, in an attempt to fool my ghostly skin into getting a bit of a golden glow, was only minorly successful.  I have a hint of color that maybe only I can perceive.  But it’s there.  However, it’s the fact that my soul feels rekindled that feels like the real win of my summer.  

My summer has ended, as one of my kids is back in school already, but if your summer hasn’t, maybe it’d be good to focus on ease, if you can.  You might just be surprised how much better you feel.  

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