Research and life experience show that routine in our lives is not only important, it is essential for prioritizing what is most valuable to us and also getting to those things that are most necessary. While I do not naturally seek out routine, I find that I am naturally drawn to it - I tend to do those things in my week that I have on my calendar and set "repeat" for. As a family we do family movie and pizza night on Fridays and my children look forward to it all week long (arguing all the way as to who gets to choose the movie!). But as summer unfolds and we get to sleep and wake with a more relaxed schedule, I notice the relief in just letting it be what it is. Sure, I try and still have a few important things that I get to - like picking blueberries before they are gone and going swimming as much as possible. But it is with repeated consistency that I find all the plans I make for summer break just drop off one by one as we meander through June and finally by July, I just give up. There is no "art project of the week" nor do I make it to yoga more than once the whole summer. But what I find is the freedom of letting the day be what it is. No one is rushed and we get in a lot of playing, random projects and spontaneous dinners with friends. I go outside and pick my hydrangeas and take the time to make a bouquet for the house. I let my children make breakfast....from scratch....and then coerce them to mostly clean up. It is good and I am so glad for this detachment from schedule. But as the end of summer break approaches and we all are getting a little tired of each other, I realize that we are ready for routine again. Where the groceries are purchased regularly, the laundry gets done and there is a clearer rhythm to our days. We all balk at first but my guess is that we are privately happy to have it again, or maybe just I am. And my invitation to you is to be filled with gratitude for the slower paced spontaneity that you've enjoyed all summer long. And now, embrace the rhythm of routine realizing that it too, can fill your life with pleasure.
I have clearly slowed down this summer as it is the second week of August and while I thought of several topics to blog about....I just never was able to get them out. My children have all gone back to school and it's therefore appropriate for me to finally catch up a bit. So as I sit with an iced coffee alone in my home that is blissfully quiet, my thoughts go back to where I was in May at the start of the summer. Our family had come off of a long and busy winter and spring and I was in my mind, feeling quite excited for the travel and visiting we usually do in the summer. However what I noticed in my emotions and body was a very different feeling altogether. I wanted to sleep and I felt more fragile than normal. I found myself wanting to stay home and be with the family and to sleep in and quietly tend to my garden and read my books. Several times I tried to push past this uninvited feeling - it was summer and time for action and adventure. But my body and heart kept wanting me to dial it down and stay in first gear. Finally I gave in and got through only the most important social obligations I had committed to. I cancelled all the other plans I had made in my mind and I just hung out. And it was surprisingly nice! I began to feel calmer and my reality of needing to rest and recuperate from our crazy year was finally coming to the surface. I wasn't stir crazy or bored or lonely. I just let myself be and didn't try to direct myself away from that. Sometimes we are not connected in our 3 different centers of ourselves - our minds, our hearts and our body can be out of balance and we may not even be aware of it. Listening to what is going on inside yourself is an important part of being able to know what you really need. For me it was pushing pause on the fun activities and socializing I had planned. As I allowed myself to let go of what I thought I wanted and let myself move towards what I needed, I literally did "stop and smell the roses" and was able to be with my children by sitting with them. It wasn't perfectly played out but it was enough, and in a few weeks I had adjusted and felt ready in all parts of myself for the next adventure of summer!
Kimberly Simpson, a native of New Jersey, graduate of Wheaton College and resident of Nashville. Married and mother of three children. Lover of the ocean, gardens, yoga, cooking and travel.