A Live More/Love More Summer: Getting Back to What Matters Most
because summer is here doesn’t mean life’s demands and daily stressors
magically disappear. Digital distraction is more than willing to ruin your
family picnic. Perfection is ready to sabotage your refreshing dip in the pool.
Pressure is ready to pounce from the bleachers of the ball field, and criticism
is prepared to blast lane four at the swim meet. Hurry and impatience are
fiercely determined to spoil a day at the beach or amusement park. As you know,
distraction, perfection, and social pressures don’t take a summer vacation.
They manage to weasel their way into our daily lives no matter what season it
is. But it doesn’t have to be this way. How does a Live More/Love More Summer
sound to you? Let’s use these precious summer months to get back to what
matters most. Here’s how I do it (and by the way, this approach works
As my family makes our
final preparations for an upcoming move out-of-state, I’ve been forced to think
about what home means to me. I’ve always believed home is a feeling, not a
place. But more specifically, home is the feeling of peace and completeness I
feel when I am surrounded by the people I love. But recently, my definition of
home has expanded.
Home is also living Hands
What began as small, daily
intentions to let go of distraction, societal pressure, and perfection has
become a necessary way of life. Like water, air, and food, I need time to
connect to what matters in some form or fashion each day—time to laugh, listen,
and love are daily requirements for me.
Smelling my daughter’s
freshly washed hair … feeling sunshine on my face as I wait for swim practice
to conclude … jotting writing ideas in a notebook … talking to my husband when
the house is quiet at night … fierce hugs before we go our separate ways … my
Hands Free moments are home to me now.
But I must be realistic.
As much as I would love all moments in life to be calm, present, safe, and
undistracted, it is simply not possible. We live in a fast-paced world
saturated with duties, deadlines, and devices. In a world inundated with
distractions, it is easy to get far from home. Summertime is no exception.
Yet with almost four years
experience living Hands Free, I am able to detect when I am getting too far
from home. No longer am I willing to push and pressure and yes my way through
life to the point I lose sight of everything that matters most.
Here are some of the
difficult truths I say to myself when I am getting too far from home. These
“red flags” help me realize when I need to say no, re-establish my boundaries,
or reassess what matters and what doesn’t.
“You are trying to do too
much at once.”
“You are staying up too late.”
“You haven’t sat down all day.”
“You are eating at the kitchen counter.”
“Your heart is racing.”
“You are complaining more than you are being positive.”
“You are easily frustrated.”
“You are bullying yourself.”
“You are overreacting to something that has little significance in the grand
scheme of things.”
“You are wearing a scowl.”
When I hear these honest
admissions in my head, I don’t ignore them like I used to. Nor do I make
excuses or get defensive. Instead, I do one of the following actions to bring
myself back home:
lower the bar. I remind myself nothing has to be perfect, just “good enough for
turn away from the outside/online world and turn toward my inner circle of
friends and family.
take a short walk. Even ten minutes of fresh air and time for reflection helps
me feel rejuvenated and less overwhelmed.
silence my inner critic with three powerful words: “Only Love Today.”
resist the urge to push myself beyond my limits and make a reasonable plan for
getting one item accomplished at a time.
throw on a hat and stop fussing over my appearance.
treat myself with kindness and compassion like I would a friend who is going
through a hard time and doing her best.
say, “I cannot worry about that right now,” and stop obsessing over things I
remind myself that although things might not be going according to “my plan,”
something better might evolve if I just let go.
add a ten-minute cushion to avoid being rushed and agitated if I need to be
somewhere at a certain time.
close my eyes and recite a prayer asking to be awake to the glimmers of
goodness within my day.
Whenever my distraction
radar goes off, I try to do one of those strategies to bring myself back home.
These actions help me protect what is most important in my life. They help me
be the human being and parent I want to be. They remind me that each moment
holds a chance to start over even when I fail miserably. They keep me moving
forward on my journey to live Hands Free.
My friends, we cannot control
all the circumstances of our life, but we can control some. When faced with
feelings of overwhelm, take a moment to evaluate: Is everything I’m trying to
do today necessary? Is there somewhere I can lower the bar? Is the feeling
of home in here somewhere? And finally, ask yourself: when I
look back in September is this how I want to remember spending my summertime?
Each day make it a
priority to do something that brings you peace, fulfillment, and meaningful
connection—even if it is only for a few minutes. This way, you’ll never get so
far from home that you can’t get back to what matters most.