Summer Vacation

Where are you headed this summer? Will you be sitting under the stars at the top of a mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway with your friends? Will you be at the side of the lake with the trees green all around you and the water sparkling its blue quietness? Will you be at the beach looking for lightning rock in the sand as your children run screaming with delight in and out of the surf?

It doesn’t much matter where you go.  I, myself, plan to be sitting on my living room floor painting my now boring front door a beautiful new shade of turquoise.  What matters is that you take time to enjoy the pleasures that the world and the season have to offer. We have arrived at mid-year. It took a lot of work and a long stretch of cold weather to get here. But we have made it.

So let’s just relax. The kids are out of school. The days are long. The lifeguards are at their posts near the water. The trails through the woods are dappled with sunlight and cool shade can be found there under the trees.  This is the time of the year when life’s frantic pace slows down a little.

It is time for you to remember your summer dreams. What can you do this year to take excellent care of yourself? What would be the best vacation you could imagine, one that makes you smile to yourself just thinking about the possibility of it?

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. It can be simple and oh so sweet, like sitting in the parking lot at a picnic table eating frozen custard on a Friday night.  What is important is that you remember to take time for yourself and those you love.

That is what summer is all about. It is a time to take a deep breath and a sigh of relief that you are here in all of the beauty and abundance that summer is resplendent with. There are melons and tomatoes and corn on the cob. There are long moonlit nights and swift afternoon thunderstorms. The world in summer gives us so much aliveness and plentitude.

We need to take this time to reflect that in ourselves. What would it look like if you were to feel cared for and full of plenty for these next three months of summer? Who would be sitting next to you, what would you be holding in your hands?  What would be all around you?

Don’t underestimate the importance of slowing down and paying attention this summer. Don’t let life pass you by as you keep up a frantic pace and forget to stop and notice the beauty that surrounds you.

Remember who you are and what you are here for. Enjoy the people that fill your life. Take a real vacation, a vacation from forgetting. Take time to notice and breathe in what matters. Look to what fills your days and make a commitment to be wide awake and grateful.  Pay close attention to what brings you joy and makes your heart sing. And then make room for more of that.

The world seems like it is speeding up. We are all noticing that. It is up to you to be conscious enough to slow yourself down. Summer is the perfect time to do this. So please, take a vacation. Enjoy yourself. You have the whole rest of the year to be busy. Now is the time to walk slow and pay attention to the butterflies.

This article was first published in the Vital Signs Column in the Daily Progress in June 2013. To see this and other Vital Signs articles click here.