The Return of the Pause Button. Thanks Summer!

What are your best memories of the last day of school? About summer vacation?

Memories flood back for me: the excitement of the last day, field day activities, leaving school, starting swim team practice, riding bikes and hanging out with my friends. My kids are excited about school being over and things being more relaxed. There always seems to be a flurry of activity leading up to the end of school, it can be overwhelming to any parent trying to keep it all straight. I always take a deep breath and think ah, we made it when I pick up my kids on the last day of school.

We’re looking forward to warmer weather, more sunshine, and time to rest and just be. In our fast paced world, we sometimes need to hit the pause button. Summer is the pause button for our family.

How do you and your family relax during summer break?

I will be taking some time off to relax with family over the holidays and will be back in July. Happy Fourth!

The Best (real) Christmas Pageant Ever

I agreed to take the lead in putting on our church’s annual Christmas Pageant. What was I thinking?

Now, you might be wondering, why didn’t she just say, “no” to leading the production? Believe it or not, I’m actually pretty good at saying “no” — I learned to get better at it once my kids were born, but this situation was different. There have been several women who have graciously led the play year in and year out and finally one of them asked for a reprieve. She deserved a break, and at the time, I thought I can handle this, no problem.

The holidays are a busy time of year, and this year it seems to have kicked-up a notch. I thought I was doing good getting through Thanksgiving, then visit family, then back home, getting the Christmas tree, not forgetting about that play we had tickets for, traveling for work, getting back home, getting Christmas cards out, volunteering at school, hosting a holiday tea, and then it was time to direct the Christmas Pageant. Phew! Making it to Pageant seemed like a miracle. I was going to need one to pull this off.

What I thought my job as Play Director would include was some simple coordination and making sure we had enough kids to fill the various roles. What I found out was that it was much more. It started to occur to me that I may have bitten off more than I can chew, when I was asked when the script was coming. I have to come up with the script? What? Nobody told me that!  Before completely freaking out a thought occurred to me…Amazon. I figured they’d have to have books with sample scripts, and they did…hallelujah! Then came the coordination, and then came the props. When I picked the play we’d be doing, I figured the props would be easy. And they weren’t that hard, except I had to go get all the materials and make the props. Now you might be wondering why I didn’t have someone help me.  I didn’t have anyone helping me, because I hadn’t had the time to really think about what help I would need and time was running out. I powered through making the props and then I had to tackle the logistics — making sure everyone knew where they were supposed to be, transitions between scenes, who would have the microphone, etc. Needless to say, it was a swirl of activity that culminated in the play, which I have to say came off pretty well.

The pageant wasn’t the greatest one ever to the rest of the world. but it was pretty darn great for me. The kids did a great job. Many, who are known to be shy, showed great courage and were really brave and went for it in the play (I actually heard one girl speak loud and clear for the first time. She normally is very quiet and shy). I was impressed with the kids, and impressed that I was able to pull it off.

Now it’s time to relax. The flurry of holiday activities are starting to wind down, and having some downtime and quiet time is much needed. I need to be with my family, alone, unplugged without a care in the world. I look forward to these last few quieter weeks of the year. Cause I know we’ll be starting all over again come the New Year.

How are you getting through this busy time of year? How are you resting and recharging during this busy time?

 

Spring Breakin’

How are you recharging your batteries during Spring Break?

I look forward to Spring each year. Not only do we exit the cold weather months, and have all the lovely Spring colors, but it’s the entry point for many of us into vacation time. After many months of working hard, we finally start to think about taking a break; doing something out of the ordinary; maybe even going someplace different or new. There’s something about planning a vacation that’s so much fun–having something to look forward to can do wonders when you are tired or in need of a change from the daily grind.

Camping trips, visits with family, fun with the kids are all on the horizon. I anxiously await when our next trip will be: whether it’s a long weekend or more time away.

How are you and your family breaking away from the ordinary to enjoy yourself?

Alone Time

Do you ever crave having alone time: when you don’t have any distractions and allow yourself some peace and quiet?

I never realized how much I craved, actually needed, alone time until I had my kids. We’re conditioned to have noise around us. I know I used to like having the TV or radio on in the background when I was single and lived in an apartment. It made me feel less alone. Now, there are people around me that require my attention all hours of the day: co-workers, spouse and kids. And while I crave alone time, true peace and quiet, it is uncomfortable for me when I have no sound around. When things are silent, instead of relaxing and recharging, I let my head fill up with all the “to-dos” I still need to get done. I may not turn the TV or radio on, but I’m letting noise in.

My husband and I were able to have a weekend getaway with the help of my parents. It was a great time for us both to work on find alone time together–just being with each other in silence and enjoying it. And it was great for the kids…they loved having an adventure with their grandparents. It worked wonders for us all, and reminds me that I need to make space for ‘peace and quiet’ (even if they are brief) everyday.

Where do you experience peace and quiet? How have you (and your family) benefitted from alone time?

Time to Relax

I’ve blogged before about the need we have to recharge ourselves and give ourselves back energy. We risk burning out, may experience negative feels (anger, resentment, frustration) more easily, and make it tough to bring our full self to anyone (child, spouse, etc.) or thing (work, friendships, etc.) if we don’t do it.

I was fortunate enough to be able to give myself a big energy boost recently. I met up with some of my girlfriends and spent four fabulous days with them. During our time, we had deep connected discussions, I slept peacefully (with no interruptions or small people jumping on me unexpectedly!), I was able to relax and let all (or at least most) of my stresses go. It was only for a few days, but it felt great. I missed my children and my husband, but knew they were having fun and everyone was fine during my absence. It was hard to get away when my kids were younger, I felt tremendous guilt when I had to leave them even for a day. I felt guilty for putting all the responsibility of taking care of our boys on my husband. It was misplaced guilt. My husband enjoyed and still enjoys taking care of the boys by himself, it gives them a chance to be together and have their own special time, just like I’m having mine.

It can be difficult to find ways to give yourself that needed rest or energy boost you need, especially without feeling guilty, but it’s so needed, and can be an excellent opportunity for new connections and a recharge for all.

How do you relax? If you experienced any guilt, how did you work through it?

Energy Recharge

The New Year has gotten off to what seems like a slower start than usual for me. In years past, I’ve embraced the New Year with a vigor of starting fresh. This year it feels like I’m walking in deep sand and having a hard time getting back to running on all cylinders.

This sluggishness has forced me to rethink my energy levels. Upon reflection, it became clear that I had been going through a long(er) period than normal of giving my energy away and have not done a great job of getting my energy back. It’s easy to get caught in the give-give-give mode. I’m realizing if I don’t start taking back more and soon, there won’t be much more to give. This realization helped me refocus on what I need to boost my levels of energy. I realized I need to put time and energy into my connections, because that’s what really fuels my soul. I made lunch and coffee dates with some friends, and have made time to visit a loved one who is recovering from an accident. I’m looking forward to connecting with my audience during public speaking engagements and through my writing.

These efforts are starting to pay dividends. I’m starting to feel like I’m catching up to the fast(er) pace and am keenly aware I need to continue to include sources of energy to keep myself going without burning out.

How are your energy levels? How are you staying on all the things you have going in the New Year?

Fall into Comfort

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The change in the weather. The change in the color of leafs. The familiar smells that I’ve missed since last year. There is a familiarity to it. It feels like an old friend returning. It’s a warm, comforting feeling. Almost like someone is taking care of you, and wants you to take in all the beauty of the season. It’s also a reminder that this comforting lull will eventually get replaced with the holiday madness that ensues following Halloween.

I’m reminded that I need to take a moment and allow myself the chance to soak it all in, and let the blanket of Fall wrap around me. I need to allow myself time to relax, sit back and enjoy the change that is going on. I need to be present with my children and enjoy this very special time of year. One that isn’t packed with to-dos or driven by presents and wants.

I need to rest and prepare for the busy season that is ahead.

I passed a store selling shepherd’s pie recently and the smell drew me in. It was comfort food. Just what I wanted and needed. I look forward to enjoying these coming weeks and the Fall treasures I will experience: pumpkin patches, leafs changing color, and smells of apple cider and pumpkin. It’s a comfort I only seem to notice and embrace easily during this time of year. I’m grateful for it, look forward to it and need it. I know I’ll miss it when it’s gone, but take reassurance in knowing Fall will return like the faithful friend that it is next year.

With the stress and anxiety with have in our busy lives where do you find comfort? What are your favorite things about Fall?