Thursday, July 15, 2010


This is the first summer I'm really enjoying myself. When you have only preschoolers in the house, every day is a bit like summer, but with school age children, summer is a true break from rushing out of the house each morning with the backpack and the lunch and the mitts and hat. I have truly relaxed into summer in a way I didn't have any concept of before.

It's good for me to slow down and enjoy life more. It doesn't suit my hard charging, rushing personality to have a slower change of pace, but it's necessary to rest and recharge in order to have the energy to continue on. I see the kids relaxing too, and then we'll all move into the fall with a store of energy that wasn't there before.

I'm going to try to find a way to bring that permission to relax into my structured life when routine returns. There has to be little ways to build it in on a daily basis. The book Ava received for her lamplighter award said, "Set aside some quiet time to relax and reflect, every day" and I've found myself thinking often about those words.

I'm not sure why I feel I need permission to take time for myself, except that so much of my self worth was tied into my accomplishments for so many years, and it's hard to work those old messages out of your brain. I felt I was only valuable if I was producing something, the bigger the better, so I worked like crazy just to believe I was worth the space I was taking up on the planet. Over many years, I came to separate my sense of personal worth from what I did, and came to understand that I am valuable for who I am, not for what I do.

It wasn't an easy lesson to learn. I try to focus on this distinction with my kids. When they were babies, I avoided saying, "Good girl" or "Good boy", but instead tried to tell them, "Good job" to separate who they are from what they do. Semantics are just a drop in the bucket, but since I fought with this issue in my childhood and early adulthood, I wanted to give them a head start on knowing they are loved and treasured for who they are, and what they accomplish is separate from that.

For me, my drive to produce was born out of a desire to be noticed. As the middle child, I was always working to carve out my own space among my siblings. I wanted to be good at something apart from them, and developed my perfectionism early on. Being a perfectionist is a horrible time waster and a vacuum for joy. Getting past my desire to be perfect was the single best thing I've done in regards to my writing. I've accepted that it's not perfect, but it's good enough, and that has me working on it daily instead of putting it off until it's perfect, because I know now that it will never be perfect. I am imperfect, and therefore what I produce is also flawed, but that's part of the human experience.

I plan to enjoy as much as I can of the summer, because it will be gone before I know it. What I have is today, this moment, to sip my coffee, laugh with my kids, and enjoy not rushing anywhere. I give myself permission to play and enjoy my life, for it's valuable to build these memories and store this energy for when I'll need it most. Life is good, and I'm grateful for the chance to embrace this truth and learn what relaxation can teach me.

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