A blank summer slate

What are you doing this summer? Whether or not we have made plans that leave little room for anything else, summer is still a blank slate as we look ahead toward it on May 31. It can be a time for much-needed refreshment, recreation and rest, and/or a time many of us use to accomplish goals we had no time for during the fall, winter and spring. I look forward to some traveling, a bit of singing, and a good deal of writing to keep me busy. I also have delved my attentions into so many books that my desire for mental stimulation should be quite satisfied.

This moment in time gives rise to an important annual rite of passage in looking ahead to what summer should include, accomplish, create, improve, or retire. Taking a break from normalcy over the summer months often gives one a chance to re-evaluate priorities and activities. Is anything currently taking up my time without showing any kind of purpose? Do my activities get me closer to my life goals or are they mere distractions? Do my current daily tasks add or subtract peace to or from my life? How can I streamline my thought process to maximize efficiency, productivity, contentment, and personal progress? A well-planned summer, replete with inventories of spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, financial, nutritional, and relational health and wellness, can reap a multitude of benefits, as I have recently discovered.

There is no better time than NOW to address things that are not working properly. If my car needs urgent care, I take it to a mechanic for repair as soon as possible. But what about my psyche? If my emotional health needs a tune-up, isn't that just as important as caring for my car? Perhaps even more so. And how about nutrition and exercise? Have my formerly daily workouts slipped to an every-other-day commitment? This self-reflection is not about perfectionism--it's about making my own needs a higher priority through greater awareness of what is really happening in my life. It's also about taking advantage of travel time and summer breaks to provide opportunities to BE rather than to WORK. To observe, to listen, to be part of the earth in a simpler, more serene way, rather than chasing after anything. Diligence and discipline are necessary, true, in this artist's life. But the art is nurtured by nature, by quiet solitude, by wisdom, patience and contentment. Those things, I have also recently learned, are not accessible while one is actively engaged in the rat race. They only come when one agrees to step out of the race and let opportunities for growth make themselves present. This is a hard lesson for one who was taught that hard work is always rewarded, that holding myself to insanely high standards of excellence will yield the best job or the most "success." Life is a long-distance run and moments of rest are required to finish well. Moreover, life is so much more than work. Sometimes the inner work that I find challenging IS the work I am supposed to be accomplishing. . .

So, finding equilibrium among one's physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, vocational and relational needs becomes a task more important than "success" in any one area of life (like career). Best wishes as you consider your own balance of these areas in your life--and may we all find this summer to be most helpful in achieving that balance we need for greater wellness.

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