Summer Daze

It’s been two weeks since school let out, which means summer is in full swing around here!  So far, I have been making a conscious effort to be lazy relax and enjoy the slower pace.  My family still seems to wind up with clean clothes, a spotless clean-enough house, and a somewhat homemade meal on the table sometime after 6pm.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that chaos hasn’t broken out.  Yet.

I am trying to be more mindful this summer, to enjoy things as they come and not always be thinking of the next thing that needs to be done.  Or what hasn’t been done from yesterday.  Or whether or not I should consider Botox.  Or that we are one year away from paying for college.  Or global warming.

Really, I think it’s working.

So in honor of being mindful and relaxed, I want to share a few things I have learned so far this summer:

  • Puppies do NOT automatically calm down when they turn 1 year old.  That must have been in the fine print.
  • The “gradual tanning” lotion and my skin have decided that they will NOT cooperate with each other.  I keep trying, but the lotion still smells bad and my skin stays pasty white.
  • If I flex my arms muscles in just the right way, I can still wave and/or clap in a sleeveless top without arm jiggle.
  • If you offer a teenager a cup of coffee, he will take it.  And add tons of sugar.  Then he wants a cup the following morning.  A few mornings after that, he will not only pour HIS cup, but he will attempt to put YOUR cup into a travel mug and take it with him.  It’s like that Mouse and that Cookie….except for the fact that Mommy needs her coffee, and that boy was willing to share his cookies.
  • If you go shopping in the first week or two of summer, you will run into many, many teachers and other school employees.  It’s like we are on parole for good behavior, let out of the cage, set free.
  • If you are enjoying lunch with friends and the waiter keeps bringing you endless iced tea refills, do NOT pass up an opportunity to use the restroom before leaving the restaurant.  It’s a long ride home.  A long, uncomfortable ride.
  • Contrary to what I previously believed, the earth does not stop spinning if I leave the house with wet, uncurled hair.  Actually, nobody seems to notice or care.
  • I still don’t like leaving the house with wet, uncurled hair.
  • Guacamole and chips make a wonderful lunch.  Just don’t tell my kids.
  • I really enjoy spending time with my kids.  Really.

What little bits of wisdom have you learned so far this summer?

Best Kept Secret

I may have finally found the secret to how I am going to learn to relax!  I can achieve my personal goal for this summer…one of them, anyway.  In a previous post about not being good at relaxing, I admitted that this isn’t something I do easily.  Actually, I stink at it.  But I had a brainstorm this morning and I think I have found the solution.

I am going to retire.

I know what you are thinking…..Aren’t you only in your forties?  A part-time employee?  Kids to put through college?  Did you win the lottery?  Did you take your meds today?

OK, I will admit that I can’t REALLY retire (start breathing again, hubby).  That would be like throwing a graduation party for a kindergartner (oh wait, people do that).  Like buying a wedding dress after the first date.  Like ordering dentures right after your last adult tooth comes in.

No, MY retirement will be more like a mind-game that I will play.  I will simply convince myself that to relax and have fun IS my job.  Something that HAS to be done!  Like laundry, only less stinky.  It will be at the top of my list each and every day.  Right before “go to work” and “laundry”.

Over the past few weeks, I have attended three wonderful retirement parties for five awesome coworkers.  I’m telling you, these people are on to something!  They are happy (I would even say some are glowing), relaxed, energized, and ready for their next phase of life.  They talk about upcoming trips, club meetings, gardening, hiking, dancing, volunteering, going for walks, sleeping in, spending time with family, and pretty much doing what makes them happy.  Work is not included in their lists.  No, only things that make them laugh, smile, and relax seem to be on the new agenda.

What a concept.

Older retirees often come back for these wonderful parties, and they look even more relaxed. Tan, even.

I’m starting to think there is a secret club, some special supplement they take, or just something they all know that we don’t.  I even watched them at these parties for evidence of a secret handshake.  Didn’t see it.

I can’t quite decide what changes when you retire, other than the obvious loss of a paycheck.  Do people give themselves permission to relax and have fun, since the weight of the working world has been tossed aside?  Or were these particular people always fun and relaxed anyway?  What if we could just bottle their enthusiasm and market a new combination energy/relaxation drink?  Have that Retirement Mindset but still keep the paycheck.

Of course, I want the party too.  If I am going to enter this new phase of my life, a good party would be the best way to start it off.  At retirement parties, there are funny stories told about the retiree, silly songs and skits, wonderful food and wine, and all of the friends you could possibly ask for.  The perfect way to start a new phase.

So I officially announce my retirement, effective NOW.  I will keep my job and continue to hold down the fort at home, but my mindset will be different.  Topics of conversation will change, and there will immediately be more interest in my hips (still my own), my teeth (all original), my comfortable shoes, and the status of my passport.  People will actually EXPECT me to look relaxed.

My party?  I will have to get back to you on that.  I am now officially too busy to worry about such things, as I am planning a vacation, reading a new book, and have plans to sleep in tomorrow.

Chill Out!

I came to the realization this week that I stink at relaxing.  You wouldn’t think relaxing is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.  I may be missing a gene, or maybe I was dropped on my head as an infant.  I could have missed a class on relaxation. Whatever the reason, I just can’t relax. Hang out. Chill.

So this summer, I will learn to relax.  Except that sounds like I am planning to relax, which in effect negates the whole idea of relaxing.

This is hard.

I envy people who can just chill out on the couch, watching sports or a favorite sitcom.  I can watch TV, but I am usually also thumbing through a magazine, folding clothes, trying to blog, surfing the Internet, stretching my chronically stiff hips, or playing fetch with the dog.  And relaxing, I guess.

Even if I pour a glass of wine, shut down the laptop, and cuddle next to hubby on the couch I am likely to still be “on” in my head.  Menus to plan, schedules to coordinate, who needs to be where tomorrow at what time?  It’s like that ticker on Wall Street with the same information streaming by every few minutes. Except even the stock market shuts down and takes a break. No ticker, just quiet.

Some people relax while going for a walk.  I usually spend time on a walk thinking about what I need to do when I get home. Or what I should be doing rather than walking.  Walks feel like they need a destination, a purpose.  Other than just the relaxing, of course.

I tried yoga class a few years back.  Friends said it would be relaxing.  It felt good to stretch, but I just couldn’t turn my head off.  After about 15 minutes, I started clock-watching.  When would this relaxing be over, so I could get on with things that needed to be done?  After the class ended, so did my stint with yoga.  I may try again someday, in a studio with no clock.

I do enjoy reading, something that I find more time for in the summer.  But sometimes I find that I want to finish a book so I can start the NEXT book in my pile.  Now it seems like a task to complete, not a method of relaxation.

Maybe my problem is that I don’t REALIZE I am relaxing while I enjoy favorite activities.  Relaxation may not have to take place on its own, but instead with a symphony of other things interrupting it in the background.

Or maybe I just have the attention span of a Cub Scout.

This summer, I have visions of a lounge chair on the beach, a great book, listening to the waves, and trying to soak up some sun through my SPF 50, umbrella, and floppy hat.  Sometime this summer I will relax, and I will enjoy it.  It may have to be while I am asleep, but I will be relaxed.