Tag Archives: summer

Too much happy can make you another kind of S.A.D.

I’ve relapsed. It’s Sunday and I’m sitting on my balcony, drinking my morning coffee, lost inside my own thoughts. I’m still in my pajamas at 11 a.m. and it’s exactly what my “condition” calls for.

summer-should-get-a-speeding-ticket-quote-1Most of you have heard of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (S.A.D.) which Wikipedia defines as “a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.” Anyone who lives in Minnesota is well-acquainted with this condition and people who live in the South have at least heard of it.

However, there’s a corresponding condition that’s been afflicting me since the days first started growing longer and that’s Seasonal Affective Disorder’s unruly cousin who settles in during the school break—“Summer Anxiety Dysfunction.”

This is brought on by the acute awareness that there are approximately only 15 weekends of potentially beautiful weather in which to pack a year’s worth of summer socializing. People start looking at their calendars in early May to plot potential gatherings: Which weekend should we have the barbecue? Which weekend should we do the pool party? Which weekend do we invite our friends to the cabin? Which weekend do we go boating?

Next, layer in the family commitments: Graduations, weddings, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day—and in my case Lucky’s, Oskar’s and my birthday. Our wedding anniversary (30 years!), my mother turning 90 and ending the summer with my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary.

As if this isn’t complicated enough, there are other events to be considered. Festivals, for example. In Minnesota, there are one or more town/city festivals every weekend, as well as art fairs, beer tastings, outdoor movies/theater/concerts-in-the-park and farmer’s markets.

And if you’ve got kids at home like KitKat, you can add in scheduling around sports tournaments and summer camps.

While these activities are mostly fun and I enjoy them, as an introvert, I reach a point where all the activity is enough to send me to my “quiet place” with a drink in hand.

At this mid-way point in the summer, I’ve already attended the following:

  • Edina Art Fair
  • Graduation open house
  • Stone Arch Bridge Festival
  • Back-to-the-50s car show
  • Shakespeare in the park
  • Fourth of July pool party with friends
  • Several boating outings
  • Cabin weekend with sister
  • More meals on a restaurant patio than I can count
  • Farmer’s market
  • Biking
  • Paddleboarding

And today, if I can motivate myself, I hope to go to:

  • Wine Meets Art at the St. Croix Vineyards
  • a concert and picnic at Lake Harriet

Then, this coming week, I’m looking at:

  • An anniversary dinner w/Oskar
  • Lumberjack Days in Stillwater
  • Yoga in the park
  • Aquatennial fireworks with KitKat

… and I’m still hoping to squeeze in yet this summer:

  • Getting my Vespa out
  • Lumberjack Days
  • Anniversary trip “up north”
  • Girls outing with my relatives
  • Getting KitKat and her hubby out on our boat
  • Uptown Art Fair
  • More paddleboarding
  • More biking
  • Outdoor worship in the park
  • State Fair
  • Renaissance Festival
IMG_3383

My Sweet Ride… Due to circumstances I can’t quite explain, I’ve only ridden this 3x over the last two summers. 😦

Whew! When you combine my weekend activities with a demanding new “day job” you can see why I’m exhausted…which brings me to my current relapse. Last weekend, we took Lucky up to see Blossom and then headed to my sister’s cabin. The girls came out and spent the day with us and there was much boating, tubing, paddling and sunning… After all that activity, I was spent… I. Was. Spent.

Consequently, while dragging myself through  the work week, I couldn’t conjure up one ounce of energy to plan anything for THIS weekend, even though the forecast was for a beautiful couple of days. Yesterday dawned as the nicest Saturday for boating yet, but we didn’t have anyone lined up to go out with us, so Oskar and I just had a lazy outing on our own—we stopped at my brother’s beach and sat in lawn chairs at the edge of the river and soaked in the sun. It was glorious.

Then we came home, had a drink on the balcony and headed out for yet-another dinner on an outdoor patio. Afterward, we came home and watched a movie. It was just what the doctor ordered.

It goes against my Type A nature to occasionally let a summer day drift by in that way, but I don’t want to be so busy planning my summer that I miss enjoying it.IMG_3312

And, in compiling the bulleted lists above, it’s clear that I’m pretty blessed and have a lot of fun things to look forward to—should I choose to do them. But I also know that if I call a time-out to regroup, that’s okay, too. Sometimes a little laziness is good for what ails you.

A Flash of Summer

I knew that I was a bit behind on my blogging, but was astonished to discover that my last post was in April… A whole summer had passed! A quarter of a year since I last logged in, yet I had thought I was only about a month behind on my writing. Actually, this summer has flown by in all aspects. Where did it all go? Next week my kids return to school. Usually, I am ready to push my kids out the door and back into a routine. Instead, this summer it feels like we were short changed by at least a month. The kids haven’t even yet started their ritual of bugging me, and each other, from too many days with no real structure.

I know I did plenty these past few months. And I actually have about four different blog topics started to document some of the activities that passed during this time. Though, I still have to prove it to Stormy who kept hearing me say, “I have something to write about this week.” Yet, nothing ever fully materialized past my initial jotted notes. I’d get distracted with a game of catch in the front yard, a neighbor beckoning me over for a glass of wine on the porch, or time commitments of baseball games replacing the winter hockey schedule. Then suddenly, with an uncompleted list of planned summer activities and several unfinished blog drafts sitting in my to-do pile, summer is wrapping up.

Is this the start of what my grandma warned me about? How time would speed up and pretty soon I’d be looking back wondering where all the years have gone?

Grandma still is the last one to leave a party!

Grandma still is the last one to leave a party!

This observation came from the same grandma who gave me and my friends lessons on how to best hold your drink and appetizer while still socializing at a party. So she has earned my trust in passing on truly valuable nuggets of wisdom.

I am hoping that it is just a strange happenstance versus getting older that caused the summer time warp. As you may remember from a past birthday blog of mine, I am not taking the whole aging process graciously. I am not quite ready for even more “attributes” of getting older, so time speeding up is exactly what I don’t need.

Whatever the reason, this summer cruised by way too fast. Reflecting back on these past months, I can only remember flashes of memories, rather than a good summer story.

  • It had its simple pleasures – cabin trips, moms-and-kids staycation, family visits, and lots of outdoor time with good friends.
Staycation travel: from GoCarts

Staycation travel: from GoCarts

To limos!

To limos!

  • It has had its downers – breast cancer scares, parent’s health issues, and helping a friend through some intense life decisions and changes.
  • It has had its celebrations – my favorite being Stormy’s joint 50th birthday/moving party (which included drunk dancing in her backyard and a text the next day asking if I had any recollection of how she broke her toe after too many drinks!)
  • It had its lessons learned – wiener dogs do bite, waterslides are fun, and if the pool at the club closes unexpectedly just pull out the baby pool, hose and Prosecco in the backyard.

I guess, overall, the summer has just been filled with living in the present. I took a break from wondering what is next. I have a habit of always trying to peek at the chapter ahead versus engrossing myself in the current story. Maybe creating this new way of living through one of my chapters is what also messed with my time perspective. (Again, trying to deny the aging theory.)

If I was summing up this chapter of my life, I would just say it was a relaxing time, enjoying simple things, and growing up a bit (not growing old!). I did purposely try to make some self improvements such as watching how I acted and reacted, taking deep breaths as needed, and making sure I did the things I thought were best for those I love (whether they realized it or not).

I wasn’t always successful at this new calm, “take-it-as-it-comes” self. Just this past Sunday while back-to-school shopping at Target, I had a random moment where my mind was surprisingly confronted again with how fast time really does go. How quickly life changes. I had to remind myself to breathe–there was a reason I was there at that moment–and to just focus. No regrets. No worrying what was missed. Trust that I am making the most of my time, even in those periods of time that seem to disappear in a blink.

My personality won’t lend itself to taking this mellow approach to life long term. I am already plotting my plans and goals with fall approaching. I am considering taking up playing on a mom’s hockey league. I have some lofty career aspirations I want to hit. Also, I have a personal physical goal that I hope will send some parts of me back in time. As time keeps passing and new life chapters unfold, I want to find the right mix of excitement and challenges while regularly adding in some contentment and just enjoying the present.  If my grandma’s warning is true about looking back and wondering where all the time has passed, I want to make sure I have filled the time with a vast collection of stories to look back on. I already have some wonderful ones to keep my old mind happy and as a good place to revisit.

My next chapter: The kids head back to school and I head to New York (a setting for several favorite memories already). Maybe saying goodbye to summer won’t so bad with an interest in finding out what is ahead.

photo-4

You never know exactly what will be next or what tale will unfold. That should be the fun part, the unknown. It makes the passage of time easier. At least that is what my Grandma told me over a recent  phone call. She also reminded me, “Growing old isn’t for sissies.”

D-I-Y attitude adjustment

Usually, it’s KitKat who has trouble getting her posts queued up in time. Our unofficial schedule is supposed to have us alternate posting, one each week, but sometimes (read: often) life intervenes. This time, however, Stormy is the slacker. KitKat has been patient. Meanwhile, my muse has been buried under an avalanche of work and isn’t bringing anything to the party, so I’m left to struggle it out.

I was trying to come up with some Significant Thought that encapsulates everything going on in my life right now. But I’ve found that sometimes the more that’s going on, the less I’m able to write about it—coherently. However, a loose theme has emerged over the last couple of weeks that seems to be worth sharing.

You’ve probably figured out by now that both KitKat and I are introspective people—always trying to look for the meaning in things, figure out a way to do things better. I already know I over-think things. I’m not very good at stopping myself from thinking discouraging thoughts, even when I know my time would be better spent focusing on the positives in my life. But even though I can be a bit slow to learn some of life’s lessons, it’s hard for even me to ignore them when they come in threes.

The first reminder was while reading a post from an email that KitKat mentioned in a previous postThe Daily Love. I don’t remember the exact wording but the topic was aimed at people like me who have this over-thinking problem—that we have a tendency to get stuck in the information-seeking stage (i.e., analysis paralysis). It said, “You likely know exactly what you need to do and just have to take action.” This is true. I keep looking for answers to some of my pervasive challenges—but I KNOW the answers. I just don’t want to take the actions I need to.

The second message was a friend’s Facebook post. She was posting a book. I know nothing about the book (and this shouldn’t be considered a recommendation) but the title electrified me, “We make the road by walking.” It was such as simple statement, but was a powerful reminder that it’s the really simple actions cumulatively can make a difference.

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road 
Only wakes in the sea.” 
― Antonio MachadoBorder of a Dream: Selected Poems

The third message was at my daughter’s college graduation. I’m not a fan of commencement ceremonies, because—let’s face it—they are excruciatingly dull. As proud as I am of my daughter’s achievement, this one was particularly stressful as it required a long drive to her college while my husband was suffering (and I mean suffering) from a kidney stone. The planned speaker wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony and another student stepped up to the plate to deliver the commencement address on short notice. He did a remarkable job. The theme was based on a Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.”

As a marketer, I know that it sometimes takes multiple exposures to a message in order for something to sink in, and this was the third message that seemed to be telling me the same thing: Quit sulking and get on with your life.

You see, I already know that I’m the only one who is responsible for my life and that regardless of what happens around me, I’m the only one who can make myself happy. In fact, I know this so well that I based my New Year’s Resolutions around these very principles. But somewhere over the last few months, I seemed to have forgotten myself.

Last week, I decided enough was enough. I had been working extremely hard and had nothing to show for it but a bad attitude. It was time to try a new tactic. I started by following through on an idea I had been toying with—to take my daughters out to LA to visit a high-school friend who had moved there. It seemed a bit indulgent, but after reading about KitKat’s Vegas trip, I figured a trip with my girls might do me some good.

I took this new-found attitude right into the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. I didn’t have time to schedule any social activities for the holiday, but had vague plans to go to our cabin with my husband and youngest daughter. I decided to just enjoy each day as it came. I spent nearly every moment doing whatever I felt like doing and was fortunate to have Blossom hang out with me. It was an awesome weekend—and nobody else suffered because of it. If anything, I was better company to my family than I’ve been in quite some time. By Sunday night, I felt a bit too decadent, and we headed home from our weekend place. On Monday, I was a bit more productive, but continued the theme of “doing what I want.” Overall, my weekend went like this:

Friday night:

  • Dinner outside on a restaurant patio.
  • Early bedtime.

    Oreos, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream.

    Oreos, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream.

Saturday:

  • Coffee on the balcony.
  • Run/walk along the river.
  • Boating.
  • Dinner at the local malt shop—sundaes for dessert.
  • Boutique shopping in town.
  • Read fashion magazine with a glass of wine on balcony.
  • Movie.

 

Sunday:

  • Coffee on balcony.
  • Run/walk along the river.
  • Made smoothies and lay by the pool.
  • Lunch on another patio.
  • Came home.
  • Shopping.

View from my morning walk/run.

Monday:

  • Run/walk at the local nature center.
  • Visiting Mom & Dad*.
  • Stop at Dairy Queen. (Yes, that’s two sundaes if anyone’s counting.)
  • Buying plants at the local nursery.
  • Grilling dinner.
  • Writing blog.
  • (Bedtime.)

*Visiting my parents was the one activity that was more obligation than fun since my mother tends to stress me out most days—but I didn’t stay long enough to let her get to me.

All in all, it was a nice, restorative weekend—just what the doctor ordered. While there is no Significant Thought in this post, that’s the takeaway: Sometimes life doesn’t require a complete overhaul. Sometimes a simple tune-up can do wonders. What can you do to make your life a little better…right now?

 

The lazy, hazy, unproductive daze of summer

When KitKat and I conceived this idea for a blog, a key question lurking in the back of my mind was, “Will we have enough energy/dedication/content to keep this thing going?” After all, I’ve been known to start many projects with great enthusiasm only to lose steam once life intervened (as it invariably does). Nonetheless, we launched in January with high hopes:  This project would sharpen our creative writing skills, serve as a crash course in blogging (something two marketers should understand) and, if we were lucky, would also allow us to exercise some middle-aged demons.

Our goal was for each of us to do one post, every two weeks, for a total of four postings a month. Off to a promising start, in January we posted 11 times. We each had a backlog of topics floating around our heads, and it seemed there was no end to the curveballs—or perhaps “snowballs” is more accurate—life was tossing our way. Every day seemed laden with a fresh blanket of material… February brought a slight decline in our writing output, but the shortest month of the year still saw us generate 7 posts. After that, we stabilized at a pace of about 5 posts per month. That’s one more than our “guidelines” dictated, so we were still doing great.

Then it finally got nice out.

feet by poolIf you’ve been reading this blog from the start, you no doubt detected a theme in our early posts that can best be summarized as, “two-mentally-unstable-women-living-in-a-perpetually-frozen-locale-churn-out-ironic-observations-about-life-to-keep-from-slipping-over-the-edge-of-sanity-and-bludgeoning-those-around-them-with-an-icicle.”

And for the most part it worked. We finally made it to summer with our marriages, jobs and good humor mostly intact. But if we consider blogging to be a form of online therapy (and we do), then there have been a couple of mental breakthroughs along the way. And one thing we’ve both learned is this: You’ve got to strike when the iron is hot–whether you’re talking about writing or living. Carpe diem. That may be trite and hackneyed, yes, but it’s also undeniably true.

Enjoying the beauty around you.

Enjoy the beauty in your own backyard.

Today’s swimming hole is tomorrow’s skating rink, so you need to make your splash before the first thin layer of ice takes hold of your heart. I know that a lot of people swear by meditative silence, but I find that if I spend too much time alone with my thoughts, I find myself fretting over thorns when I should be smelling the roses. I’m much happier when I’m doing stuff—whether it’s making strides toward solving a problem (e.g., at work), improving my surroundings (e.g., weeding my garden), focusing on others for a change (e.g., visiting my parents) or just enjoying the best that Minnesota has to offer (e.g., concerts in the park with my kids).

Concerts by the lake, a favorite summer past-time.

Concerts by the lake, a favorite summer past-time.

At the same time, KitKat and I have also found that writing a post when we’re uninspired—or when long summer nights are beckoning us outdoors—is useless. It just ain’t gonna happen. Yet, we believe there will still be a few summer moments when inspiration strikes, and we can crank out our thoughts in record speed. But until then, we’ll just sip our margaritas while waiting patiently for that muse to arrive.

The bottom line here is KitKat and I are slacking off a bit with our posts during these months. But we hope you won’t really notice because you, too, have dragged yourself away from the computer and are enjoying these fleeting days of summer. That’s what we want for our readers…  Just remember to come back in the fall. We promise that once October rolls around and the kids are settled into their school routines, our postings will wax as surely as our daylight hours wane, and we’ll be full of new stories to share. In the meantime, slack off a little yourself and go enjoy a margarita on the deck. We won’t tell.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
– John Lubbock
 

Simple Summer Spontaneity

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. Take this summer. It has been here in Minnesota for a few weeks now. (A few weeks late, I might add.) But unlike usual, summer just hadn’t sunk in. It felt like every other day … other than I had different wardrobe options.

Usually summer frees up something in me. All the normal tasks and daily grind get lighter. I feel more carefree. It has always had a magical effect. I feel like I can get through anything as soon as I step outside. I am sure this is enhanced by spending months not seeing blue sky or sun. Summer for me is like Dorothy landing in Oz and everything is in technicolor. But this year, for some reason, summer has just been going by. Maybe it was the late start. Perhaps it’s a busier job with more responsibility. Or worse, another one of those getting older things that I keep learning about (so far none for the better). Whatever it was, summer has been slipping by me.

Last night though, I finally found the fix. I sat chatting with my neighbor as our five-year-olds played in the front yard. Nothing too unusual except it was later than I would normally call it quits. (I’m a stickler for bedtimes. I like my couple of hours a night with no children.) But, they were having such a good time we decided to fight off the mosquitoes and to deal with the crabbiness we knew would be facing us in the morning with over-tired kids.

Finally, heading in at almost 10:00,  my neighbor said, “let’s not let the night end. Let’s walk to Freestyle.”  I went inside to grab my wallet and my son who was reading in bed. “Get up if you want to go get yogurt!”  A frozen yogurt bar with tons of indulgent toppings had recently opened up a few blocks away. The look on my sons face showing cool mom points were scored, and my husband’s eye-rolling suggesting we had sipped on too much wine, made it even more perfect of an idea. Complete spontaneity which always gives me a high. Back outside I was greeted with wine poured into snow cone cups for our walk.

Watching my usually “too cool” son pretend to race and lose with the littler girls, as we headed down, was one of those rare moments you think you did something right as a mom … sibling harmony is elusive in our house. We ran into many neighbors along the way including one of our hockey families, I hadn’t seen since the season ended. All returning from the yogurt shop. The girls loved seeing the teenagers (many of them their sitters) passing by and waving on their bikes as they were headed there to hang out.

The place was packed. I also learned that the owner was an attraction for the candymoms of the neighborhood. I still haven’t spotted him myself  but what a great marketing ploy – create a place that draws the attention of both moms and kids.

Walking home in the dark I grabbed my son’s hand, expecting him to pull back which always happens with any sort of public affection. But instead of shaking me off, he spent the rest of the walk blabbering about baseball plays to us and holding my hand the whole time as we watched the girls giggling and running ahead of us.

It sounds simple and silly, probably pretty trivial. But, I finally had my summer kick-off moment. The “Ah Ha” moment I needed to remember to enjoy the perks of the season. A time when nothing seems quite as daunting. Where everything seems brighter. I didn’t need a special moment; I just needed to be in the moment. And it was the simplest things that brought me there.

Now, if I can just hold on to that and apply it to rest of the complicated thoughts swarming in my head.

The longest winter ever

I have finally seen the light! If you read Stormy’s post on winter in Minnesota, you will have an idea of how long we wait each year to see the sun break up months of grey. This year has been an especially brutally long winter as it trailed into April and just kept nailing us with more snow. This extra month has had a negative impact on everyone. It was as if we all almost gave up hope. My daughter, the optimist, seemed to be the only one holding out as she would walk out of the house each day, look surpised and sigh, “oh no, there is still snow.”

Five days ago

Five days ago

I thought I was getting through it admirably. Biting my tongue and telling the kids how fun it is to be able to make snowmen in April … trying to be a Pollyanna, which is not my forte. But, I knew I needed to fight the anger and resentment brewing inside me. Everything was bugging me more than normal. Plus, the long dry winter was having ill effects on my looks and this was not a mood helper.  My husband finally asked, “are you okay … are we?” I snapped at him that I wouldn’t know anything till I could actually see the sun. And that if it didn’t come soon, I may just head for the airport instead of home one night and send him a postcard from my tropical get-away.

Well this weekend the temperatures jumped. In fact they doubled and hit the ’70s and ’80s overnight. At first it was almost like waking up on vacation. You barely recognized the place. Everyone had on smiles. All the neighbors came out. Restaurants opened their patios for dining. People multiplied on the streets and around the lakes. No one complained about the crowds because we were all so happy to be out of hibernation.  All concerns took a backseat to enjoying the moment. I even started to look better instantly. It was a sunny miracle!

You could even see the positive effect the sun had on kids. I might go as far as to say they were a delight. They spent hours outside playing ball, bike riding, jumping on the trampoline, heading off to the park and for ice cream. Simply enjoying the freedom summer seems to bring to everyone. I didn’t do a thing that needed to get done. Cleaning, errands, grocery shopping, and bills all got pushed aside for just soaking it all in.

Instead, I spent my days doing nothing. In fact, on Sunday I spent the whole day with a girlfriend sitting on the deck, sharing too much wine, flipping through magazines, and getting fake tattoos from my daughter.  It was heavenly.

Yesterday

Yesterday

I am hearing horrible rumors that we aren’t completely over with winter and temps are going to fall just as quickly as they rose, so I am making the most of it in the meantime. Today, I left the office right a 5:00 p.m. (unheard of), took a walk with Stormy, brought the kids out to play when they should have been heading to bed, and now we are going to go sit out on the deck and enjoy a nightcap.

This blog post was also on my to-do list that was pushed aside this weekend, so I did take a break from the great outdoors to get it written since I couldn’t ask Stormy to cover another turn for me for purely self-indulgent reasons.  I’ll be back in a few days with a real post as I am forced back into hibernation.

I hope rest of you are doing some fabulous things to enjoy this very deserved weather.