“If nothing else happened other than getting to know or getting closer to ourselves or another, enjoying the water, air, leaves and flowers, biting into fresh fruit with gratitude, or feeling the earth under bare feet, I’d say that it was a majorly successful summer, in spite of our rather insanely complex world.”
I was having a hard time dealing with changes in my garden. It had been outrageously hot and dry in New Mexico, and the flowers that bloomed didn’t boom long. The day lilies came and went fast before I enjoyed them. The roses quickly became many dried up buds. I found myself focusing on the bug bites on the leaves. …Then, I got it.
If I keep myself in doing or collapsing mode, I’d miss the aliveness and colors of the daisies and petunias. If I didn’t allow myself to grieve drought and changes in the forest and landscape, I’d continue incessantly doing or pushing feelings away.
The flowers are like our kids and relationships. If I just do and plan, or if I don’t tend to my own emotional needs, I’ll miss the magic of my friends, grown child and grandchildren. If I stay with the normal human brain negativity bias, I’ll be stuck on the bug holes and dried up rose buds, or behavior of another.
If I intentionally stop for a few moments to feel and cherish, I’ll remember the intimate moments with flowers, strawberries, and others as they are. The choice is stay stuck on doing, denial, and negative focus, or stop, slow down, and be curious. Use summer, the longer days, the heat, to slow down and take in the wonder of our kids and the flowers.
It’s not always easy. There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot to do. Hot days can breed vegging, not connecting. The doing inner voice can be a loud one. For many, there’s an undertone of anxiety in the air. School is out, and rhythms and routines have turned upside down. The pressure is on for more play dates, last-minute scheduled activities and camps, and squeezing in time for family trips. There’s less time for self-care. With more time together, irritations can flare.
Beginning to stir up the pot of ideas….
–Use senses to connect with nature. Notice the voice that may not want to stop, recognize it, tell it you understand. Stop, maybe put a hand on your heart or the bark of a tree, even for a minute. Remember the Google surveys that showed that employee groups that took a mindful ten-minute break had actually more productivity? What do you hear, see, smell, taste, and feel? For what are you grateful? Make games with the questions with the kids or yourself. Get curious about the ants, a new sprout, or pine cones. Find the life in a square foot of earth.
–Consider just silly playing. This can be in the form of the rolling around, laughing and looking into eyes kind of play, or simply agenda-less being with and noticing without judging, fixing, or solving play.
–Face life’s reality hall of mirrors with curiosity and humor. There may be clashes or annoyances that have been around all the time and hidden by the busyness of school time. It’s a normal part of human being existence, and the juiciness of relationships. The people and situations in our lives help us dig deeper into our relationships with ourselves, communication patterns, and places inside begging for reframing and/ or healing. Spend more time around anyone, and the mirror, even if it is a smokey one, will be there. It doesn’t mean anything or anyone one is wrong or broken. It’s a type of gift that’s begging for curiosity, support, and compassion.
-Come up with some playful, family, positive summer slogans. What do you want to say as a family about your family in a positive way? “We are family who…loves running in grass”….”loves walking in the evenings”…”loves jumping in water”…”loves taking baths”…”loves having movie night”….Summer is a good time for finding a couple of “We are a family who….” slogans to rally around. Slogan creation could be spontaneous or Ideas could be submitted in a jar and everyone go over them, choose, and describe what it would look like. Slogans and intentions repeated with activities build positive memories.
-Consider a doable family service project that interests everyone. Explore where the children see needs in society or the environment. What if they helped develop the project? Giving an amount produced from a garden to others? Selling lemonade for a favorite charity? Helping out at a shelter? Kids have power to create change, and they need our support.
Look at expectations, and be real. Is the expectation coming from perfection, doing, “shoulds”, or appearances? Be alert for times to let go, and just sit on the grass, smell the flowers, and BE and feel. These are moments when connection and relationship building are at a peak.
-Claim self-care as a priority, in fact, a political act. There are times when self-care time is with self, and times when is it “being” time with another. Honoring feelings is self-care. I love this article on self-care and activism that was referenced by Patty Digh, Nine Self-care Reminders for the Over Committed Activist. I consider the commitment to raise or be with, connected, heart-felt kids activism.
If nothing else happened other than getting to know or getting closer to ourselves or another, enjoying the water, air, leaves and flowers, biting into fresh fruit with gratitude, or feeling the earth under bare feet, I’d say that it was a majorly successful summer, in spite of our rather insanely complex world.