It has been twenty-six days since John and I, as vaccinated Californians, shed our masks for the most part, began socializing in larger groups, started shopped without distancing, and rejoiced at seeing smiles that included lips. We even gathered up our courage and flew to Spokane to visit friends for a short visit.
We also decided to update our backyard and discovered that almost everyone we know is doing some remodeling or upgrading of their properties. After the Great Wall of China (as I so fondly called the unending fence project) was completed, the rest of the yard looked pretty tired. So, as these things go, one thing led to another, and we decided to re-landscape and add a new seating area. I even got racy and bought an outdoor rug. We asked our contractor to have everything finished before July 4. The project was completed just twenty-four hours prior to our reinstated annual Independence Day party. The yard was gorgeous. The party was a huge success. But phew! I’m not used to that kind of nail-biting stress.
Yes, it has been just thirty days since our personal worlds have opened up, but I feel like I just jumped into the deep end and have forgotten how to swim. As the calendar filled up, some important things fell by the wayside—things that nourish our spirits. For me that is writing, reading, hiking, and just plain being: all the activities that filled my days when I was longing to step back into the outside world. If you are like me, the word balance is flashing in neon lights across your cerebral cortex …
So here I am today. There is nothing on the calendar, but I could go to the gym. Looking out at the backyard, the new landscaping is nice, but not a creature is stirring because it is so hot! No creatures are stirring inside either. The dogs are sleeping off their morning walk. The air conditioner is set at the suggested 78 degrees, but I feel warm and uncomfortable. (Why is it that 78F outside is so much cooler than 78F inside?) I’m still trying to decide whether to go to the gym or just take the day off and maybe go tomorrow.
Looking at the old-fashioned calendar on the kitchen wall, I see a lot of ink. Next week is jammed but, oh joy, there are two blank squares. In two short leaps, I’m at the junk drawer where the pens reside. I root around until I find the red Sharpie. Back at the calendar, I put scarlet diagonal lines across the blank days. A sense of relief washes over me. And then I remember: that’s what I used to do. How could I have forgotten that vital survival strategy?
Now I’m pondering other ways to capture that elusive sense of balance and contentment. Because I do this, I’m going to put it out there: don’t over-plan. A blank day on the calendar doesn’t mean you should do five loads of laundry. And there is that word—should. Just don’t should all over yourself. Try enjoying a day or part of a day by letting time unfold before you and expect the unexpected. You will be surprised at the beauty that surrounds us each and every day—and goes completely unnoticed. The smile of a loved one or the feel of a cool breeze in the evening …
Yesterday, some wisdom was freely given by my friend Jamie, who had a recent serious brush with cancer. “One of the things I have learned is to be good to myself.” To that I would add, be easy on yourself. Many days have must-do’s and several could-do’s, but if one or more of the “coulds” doesn’t get done, set it free while you sip a glass of wine or soda as you watch the fading light of a long summer twilight.
And that bit of wisdom brings me back to today and the gym … I’m going to give myself a break and forgo the hot, sweaty gym. The pool is beckoning. I think I’ll jump in the deep end.