Savoring Those Final Summer Days

Why do we rush the seasons?

Am I wrong when I remember that seasons during  my childhood were more clearly defined?
These days, children go back to school in August while we didn't go back to school until
after Labor Day.

While the summer flowers are blooming, the grocery stores start selling mums.
Starbucks starts selling lattes flavored with pumpkin before I'm ready to think of fall.
The Halloween displays come out in August.
The retail stores must hurry with these displays because soon we will see Christmas displays.

The autumnal equinox arrives at 4:21 a.m. EST on September 24, 2015.
Until then, it is technically still summer.
That means:
for me
the sandals can still be worn, weather permitting,
as can the sun dresses,
the shorts,
the cropped pants.
I've put away the white pants and the white shoes.
This is reflection of those rules of proper seasonal attire  that are deeply ingrained in my head:
no white shoes or pants should be worn
 before Memorial Day 
or after Labor Day.

Until September 24, it is still summer in my world.
I'm not ready to move into fall yet.
My mind and my body just aren't ready to make that transition.

Yes, just as I wrote in my last blog post, I am still on the cusp of autumn.


Cusp

[kuhsp] 

noun

a point that marks the beginning of a change
a point of transition: turning point, edge, verge

Don't rush me.
I'm not ready to make the transition.

I do admit that  transitions are difficult for me.
Today, soon after my arrival to her office, my therapist asked me an important question,
"What are you doing to prepare for the fall and winter days that are coming?"
Has she been reading my mind?

Actually, I've been giving this topic a lot of thought.
I know myself well enough to know that I must prepare for the coming days when I can't enjoy the green grass, the leafy trees, and the beautiful flowers of summer.
I must plan for those days when I feel housebound.
Those days when the snow flies, the wind blows, and the roads are covered with ice are not days that I particularly enjoy.

What am I doing to make the transition into the seasons that are coming?

This is what I am doing:
I am hanging on to summer as long as I can!

Intentional self-care does not come naturally to me.

Summer is a time when I find it easier to adopt healthier habits.
Do you find that is true?
Here are some things I'm doing to help me transition from summer into fall in a healthy way.

Mental/Emotional Self-Care
Photographs of a favorite summertime vignette are captured to remind the heart during the dark days that no doubt will come in the following months that summer will again make its appearance.


Journaling is important part of maintaining my emotional and mental health.
I love to journal on the back deck in the summer.
I love to see shadows of leaves across the page as I write.
I always miss my outdoor writing times when summer is over.




Physical Self-Care

This season, the one we are still in, is a great time to try and get in shape.
I'm exercising outside as much as I can.
We live in the most wonderful area for walking.

See what I'm talking about.
Here is a wonderful example of the hoodoo rocks or mushroom rocks that crop up all over my neighborhood.
I never tire of looking at these beautiful rocks.
Look at the interesting shapes and textures.
Don't you just love my hoodoos?

Here is an example of another hoodoo  in my area.
Notice how the colors in the formation are different from the  colors in the example above.
I love this rock.
I call her my "Cat Rock."
I like to think she keeps a protective eye on our neighborhood.


Besides walking, as a preparation for when I can no longer exercise outside,
I am trying to get in the habit of making it to the club more often.
The old hip is acting up, so I have traded Zumba Gold for water exercise.
Last week I tried Aqua Zumba.
What fun!
After class, dripping wet, I decided to dry off by lounging outside in the sun.
As a nod to those days when I was a sun worshiper,
I actually spent ten or fifteen minutes just soaking up the bright sunshine before I had to make a hasty retreat to the shade.
This is another way I am preparing for the cooler days ahead.
I am soaking up as much sun as I can while I can.

I'm also looking after my past medical issues.
I just had the five month check on my pacemaker.
My life is greatly improved since that little device was implanted in my body.
According to the last check, I have ten years left on the battery, and
I'm using it 75% of the time.
I had no events of AFib in the last two months.
Technology is wonderful.
That little device helped to make my summer a great one.

Lifestyle

I truly am trying to establish a schedule.
I do better when I have to live by the bell.
Teaching schedules gave me that discipline.
I struggle to adopt my own schedule when one is not established for me.
It has been an even larger challenge to learn to adopt a schedule
now that my husband is working retail.
Some of you may remember that my husband, after working in education for forty-two years,
decided to begin a new career by working for Apple.
He loves his job, and his job is good for him, so I am trying to adjust to a schedule that changes
day by day.
Some days he works days.
Others he works nights.
I find it nearly impossible to establish regular times for the daily tasks of living.
Since I need a time schedule that is fairly routine,
I'm still working on finding balance in this area of my life.
In the meantime,
Boston and I mark time while he is gone by walking together in the evening,
or I read or write with Boston at my feet.
Make no assumptions that I have become the number one person in Boston's life;
he still won't eat while his master is gone,
and when his master comes home there is a love fest that takes place between these two.


I'm learning lessons from my husband during this season.
Fulfilling work remains important even during the retirement years.
As I leave summer, I am pondering this life lesson.

Spiritual Self-Care

One of the greatest blessing of the past year has been the time I have spent with a very special group of ladies from my church.
We call ourselves Monica Moms.
St. Augustine's mother was named Monica.
That is where the name for our group comes from.
We pray for our children as she prayed for her son.
Every other Wednesday, we meet for two or three hours to lift up our adult children in prayer.
The time I spend with these women in prayer are times I will forever treasure.

I'm blessed to have a mother who prays for me.
Just recently, I called her and when she answered the phone, she said,
"I was just praying for you."
She is nearly 100 years old, but she continues to pray for me.
I hope to have many more summers to pray for my children.
I rest in the assurance that those prayers will forever be found at the Throne of Grace.

People Support

Summer is a perfect time for lunch with friends.
I've enjoyed many long lunches with great friends this summer.

I'm ending off the summer by going on a three day trip with my high school girl friends.
It is our big 70th birthday bash!
We have talked about and planned this trip for years.
We wanted to enter the seventh decade of our lives in a big way.
We are going on our "senior trip."
Watch out.
The Girls of '63 are heading to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

So, during these last days summer,
I'll be off traveling.

First,
I'm getting on a train with a bunch of the girls.
That alone will be a great adventure.
Once we all arrive at our destination,
we have three days of a very full agenda planned.

I think I'm capping off the summer of 2015 in grand style.


See you all in the fall.
Enjoy the final days of summer.















Self care

Love After Love
The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving
 at your own door, in your own mirror
 and each will smile at the other's welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self. 
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, 
to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life. 
 ––Derek Walcott


The Photographs 
Spanning Many Years
Many Roles
~ The Sweet Fragrance of Childhood ~


Student on Trip to England with Professor
Teacher in Classroom


Wife of
High School Principal
Mother of Five Children
Grandmother of Seven


April is National Poetry Month

Grandmother at Journey into Elderhood (click on either word to find her blog) posted the poem above on her blog today.  I was reminded that I had posted this same poem in December of 2009.  I have added a few photos to that original blog entry and am reposting it today.  "Love After Love" is one of my favorite poems.  Just as it did in 2009, it speaks to me again of the importance of self care.  I continue on that journey of finding "that stranger who was yourself."


Repost of thoughts about this poem from blog entry posted in December of 2009:


We play many roles in this life.  As mothers, as sisters, as wives, as teachers, I think we don't always take good enough care of ourselves. Not only do we neglect ourselves, but we sometimes find that we have become "the stranger who was your self."

At the end of 2009, I am working on becoming reacquainted with my self. What do I really want to do with the remaining years that I have left? What is really important? What remains in my life, and what do I discard?

I hope to start taking down those "love letters from the bookshelf" and explore who I was, who I have become, and what it all means. The demands of motherhood, career, and professional responsibilities are now behind me. It will be interesting to see what choices I make in 2010.