It is now, somehow, the beginning of July and I have a confession to make:
I really have nothing to show for it.
There have been no extravagant vacations, no fun trips to the beach, no exciting adventures to check off of my bucket list. Instead I have filled my days with well, pretty much nothing. I have spent slow mornings sipping coffee on my front porch, watching the sky turn colors from the hazy promise of the early hours to the commanding presence as the rest of the world wakes up. I’ve stayed up late at night, reading books just for the fun of it, something I haven’t done since high school, something that, as an adult, feels like a guilty pleasure. I have filled afternoons by letting the laundry pile up while I floated in the pool, letting the sun warm my skin.
This summer, I have chosen to purposefully slow down. For a long time in my life as a mom with a career and kids, I got swept up in the false promise that doing more would make me a better version of myself somehow. I thought that if I could just squeeze in one more hour of work or fit in one more quick workout or look up one more great recipe, I would be on my way to “having it all.” But the problem with always “just” doing one more thing is that soon, you find yourself unable to stop.
You become obsessed with doing more and “just” checking your email real quick and “just” doing one more work task real quick and “just” cleaning up real quick, until you look around and realize that life is “just” passing you by real quick.
And I don’t know about you, but that’s now I want to live my life.
Truthfully, it has taken my years to undo what I spent years building up. I have had to really, really work on slowing down, on asking myself questions like, “What do you really feel like doing right?” and if that answer is, “Doing absolutely nothing and reading a book,” giving myself permission to do it. It has taken me months to get to the point where I don’t feel guilty for drinking my coffee and just sitting on my porch without working or doing something “productive.”
It’s a rather ridiculous position to be in when you realize that you have somehow built a life where you can feel guilty for actually enjoying it, but that’s exactly the place I had reached. And I am willing to bet I’m not the only one who has been there.
The truth is, I like working and I like projects and I like being busy to an extent. Having goals and accomplishments is important for us as humans to feel productive. But in life, I believe that there are seasons, just as there are in nature. There are seasons for building and busy and for working ourselves around the clock. And then there are seasons for enjoying the fruits of our labor—seasons for swinging in a hammock or reading by the pool or nibbling a sweet treat or lounging in the bath.
There are seasons for slowing down, because in slowing down, we are able to take a step back and catch our breath before diving back into the busyness again.
So, this summer, I am declaring it a summer of slow-down. I’m saying “no” to all of the crazed activities for my kids; I’m saying “no” to day trips and vacations and summer camps. I’m saying “no” more often so I can learn to not feel guilty for giving my family the gift of doing less. I say bring on the front porch coffee sipping and the backyard lounge reading, because come fall, I know we will pick up right back where we started. But this time, we will be a lot more refreshed.