An open letter to summertime

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Dear Sweet Summertime,

The ease of waking up and the welcoming presence of a new day give me peace.

The freedom of laying in bed for way longer than necessary and no pressure to get up at a certain time.

The collection of colorful mugs of cold brew each morning, not those evil travel mugs and their symbols of hurry and busyness.

No make up, no hair brushing, and no contacts for as long as I want.

The uncovering of emotions that I forgot I had because it was nestled safely underneath the more glaring issues of children and parents and learning.

The space in you brain to adequately reflect on the other areas of my life, such as the church group I lead.

The slow walks with Franklin and the quiet mornings watching him on the patio bark on birds.

The energy to enter hard conversations and let it take up my entire brain space.

The capacity to love others with greater awareness and intentionality.

The blank white space on my google calendar.

The quiet music playing from speakers filling the living room and dining room with its’ melodies.

Slow and careful handwriting across pages of journals writing whispers of prayers, shouts of joy, hidden dreams, and anything else that I want.

Hot summer afternoons spent by the pool with a good book and the smell of sun screen.

Vacations spent connecting with my husband and the memories to be made.

Sand between my toes, rhythms of ocean waves crashing with no plans of stopping, and a summer rain shower that makes sure you know there’s no such thing as a perfect day–but it was pretty close to perfect.

The constant process of relearning to relax, slow down, be still, and be present in each moment.

Summer, these are the reasons I love you.

But, I know you can’t stay forever.

Just, please go slowly.

 

E is for Expectations

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had high expectations for myself. In 4th grade, little ‘ole me had completed my Outer Space project a week before the due date. Typical. It was good enough, I’m sure, and met all the necessary requirements already.

But, in the most artistic way possible, I was struck with a new wave of inspiration and I wanted to start over the night before it was due and do something way better. Except that in my 10 year old brain development, I didn’t have the capacity to realize that I would not be able to finish the project in time if I restarted the night before. It was a flurry of tears and freak outs and I’m sure my parents rushing into salvage what could be done (to my emotional state, not the project.)

This was the time my mom and I learned that I should never do that again.

My mom vowed never to let me start over in such a manner based off of a wave of new inspiration. She was right, obviously.  But, it’s a lesson I’ve had to teach myself over and over again because I find myself with the same tendency. The deeper I get into a project and the more finished it becomes, I think of something new that could be WAY BETTER. And because of my high expectations for myself, I have to go for it. Because, how could I not chase after the ever-shifting, mysterious “BEST?”

Expectations have ruled me for a long time. In my idealist brain, reality never really matches up to my idea of perfection. It was a hard road being a perfectionist child in a world full of possibilities, projects, artistry, and competition. And, it really wasn’t the competition that fueled me. Although, let’s be real, that has been a factor more often than I’d like to admit. More so, it was fueled by my own expectations for myself.

I’ve realized that it is just in my nature to be a dreamer and an achiever. Both are valuable identities to have, but they provide quite the whirlwind of experience in order to manage them.

It’s a battle of separating my identity and worth from what I can achieve.

It’s a tension between striving for excellence and understanding my limits. It’s a struggle to understand where the line blurs from dreams that I can reach to unrealistic expectations. It permeates to many areas of life, whether it’s my career, relationships, leadership, creativity, or craft.

I realize time and time again that there is often no best way. I am often frozen in shock at the start of a project because I’m trying to figure out the best way to do things. But, in reality, there are a lot of good ways to do things. There’s always going to be a “better” way. There’s always somebody doing something differently that I think could be better than what I’m doing. There’s always a new idea that strikes me when I least expect it.

And so, with many years behind me realizing unmet expectations that I have for myself – some realistic and some unrealistic – I realize that often times, I just need to pick one way and stick with it.

No second guessing myself, just being confident that all I can do is all that I can do.

And, all I can do is try my best, to offer the world the most true and honest self that I can, to be generous with kindness even when I don’t want to, and to tread lightly as I’m following the twists and turns of an ever changing creative mind that’s constantly full of way too many ideas to pick from.