I love spending time with my friends and family. The simplest things in life give me the most pleasure: cooking a good meal, enjoying my friends. – Cindy Morgan
Bright, Intoxicating Summer Days
These long summer days are intoxicating. Whether it is the heat and flowers and summer sun, the wonderful privilege of having all of my boys around, the great feeling of being with those we love, or just the ability to step outside and enjoy a weekend cappuccino as the sun rises, I don’t know. But for me, this summer has been the brightest one I can remember. It might be because I am taking time to embrace the simplest things.
I haven’t blogged in weeks, but not on purpose. Thoughts often run through my head, things to mark and write and keep. 99% of those thoughts stay private in journals these days, not because things are bad, but because they are so good.
I’m reminded daily at work about the need for balance in my life. What I do for a living could become the dominating force in my life — what I spend my days doing is complex, complicated, difficult, and yet satisfying. I love helping to make a difference We do spend a lot of time doing what we do, whether it’s teaching a room full of students, running a home business, being a full-time mom, or what I do now — strategic marketing. The time doing our jobs is super important, but it is not IT. Every day I learn more and more the importance of balancing a living with living a rich life. It is important to slow down and invest time into doing the simple things with those we love.
A Dip in the Ligurian Sea on a Summer Sunday
Two months ago, my three sons and I had the wonderful pleasure and privilege of traveling to the remote village of Vernazza, Italy, in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre, or Five Lands. It was the most enchanting place I have ever been. Time there together meant we were almost completely unplugged for three days, and had time to be present — to each other, to the beauty of the region, to the richness of the food and local people and culture. We hiked cliffs along the Mediterranean, ate local meats and cheeses and gelatos and oranges, and could relax together.
On Sunday morning in Vernazza, I slipped out of the little house we rented earlier than my guys, down the narrow cobbled street to the tiny harbor. It was quiet except for the church bells and the gentle lapping of waves along the rock breakwater. A man raked seagrass and debris from the sliver of beach. Two women eased into the water and swam gentle breaststroke laps beside the colorful fishing boats. And I, somehow realizing the scene, snapped an image on my iphone (above). It is likely my favorite image from our entire trip. The feeling of the photograph holds me even today. It is one of tranquility, of simplicity, of investing in time for rejuvenation, and for family.
Strategies for Embracing the Simplest Things and Enjoying the Summer Days
Despite the speed at which life is moving — too fast — I am willing myself to slow down. A few things seem to be working. I am really enjoying this summer:
- Take notifications off of every program and app I use — no dinging or pinging of emails or notifications of comments or anything to disturb what I am doing in the present moment.
- Schedule and organize times with dear friends, set up for one time per month so life does not get away before we can meet again.
- Family dinners and church together when we can. I am not a great cook, but I do love being around my loved ones while we reconnect at dinner.
- Group projects. We have home renovation projects in progress — together. It is fun, though lots of work!
- Dips in the water at the pool, a walk by the river, a Sunday drive to see new things — these don’t have to be at the Ligurian Sea. These times can happen at home, and are likely the best memories.
What are you doing this summer to simplify and make time for you and family and friends? For soaking up the summer days together with those you love?