This summer is…different for me.
Here’s the thing: I operate on “high speed” most of the time. I have for years and years. The first part of the summer had me burning the candle at all the ends–we’re obviously not talking about a regular taper candle here–for a few key reasons:
1. We’ve been settling into a new house in a new-to-us-again town.
2. Listen To Your Mother season came and went, and due to #BlogHer17 being moved up by six weeks I didn’t have my normal month-long cushion of part-time rest before conference season got crazy.
3. Conference season was REALLY crazy. It was actually the craziest ever, for all the reasons. I’ll spare you the details. Trust me.
Then, suddenly, POOF!
1. We’re mostly settled in this awesome house.
2. The national Listen To Your Mother project is over, so there’s no preparing for next year in my schedule.
3. Conference season is over (shew, I made it!) and I’m once again doing a more-than-manageable amount of work in far less than fourteen or sixteen hours, which was my normal for at least a month.
Two things are in play right now:
1. I’m tired.
2. I have time. What? Time.
I have definitely felt more exhausted in life than I do currently. There have been times in the past when I have felt like my brain and my body could not handle one more thought, one more movement. When that happens I don’t even like to make the smallest decisions, like what I want to eat or what I want to watch on television. It’s too much.
This isn’t like that. Even three weeks after the conference, I feel like I’m walking around in a low-grade daze. A lazy daze: see what I did there? I have fallen asleep on the couch a bunch of times. Sometimes I just stare into space. Occasionally I feel myself dragging and feel like I’m two inches off the floor when I’m completely upright. It’s very strange.
Here’s how tired I am: I finally went to see “Wonder Woman” over the weekend and in the first 45 minutes I truly thought I should probably get up and go walk around in the lobby to wake up. My eyes were so heavy and I even had a bag of movie popcorn in my lap. It didn’t matter: I’m tired! The movie was amazing; my brain was shutting down, not to mention my eyes. (I recovered; don’t worry. The movie was badass and I’d see it again in a heartbeat.)
The other monkey wrench I’m dealing with which really isn’t a monkey wrench in the negative sense at all is spare time. Real spare time, the kind that just appears in the form of a blank few hours on any given calendar day. Sometimes I have it and I honestly don’t know what to do with myself, so I fritter it away just sitting and staring. I’m told that just sitting and staring isn’t really considered “frittering away time”, especially when you’re rest-deficient and fairly fried in general but it sure feels like it to someone who’s a do-er.
I went to the neighborhood pool for a little while this afternoon. I had it all to myself. I put on sunscreen and some music and then pulled a book out of my bag: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It’s a classic and my all-time favorite book in any genre and I’ve probably read it more than fifteen times. (Her writing is exquisite. Have you read it? My current copy–I think it’s my fourth–already has water damage because this is not its first time being read poolside.)
I read a chapter and then got in the pool and swam and jogged a little bit. My days of teaching water aerobics affect me whenever I’m in the water: I cannot stand still…so I worked out. I made a mental note to set up a Spotify playlist specifically for pool workouts. I got out of the pool and read some more. I enjoyed a snack. I reapplied sunscreen. I got back in the pool and thought of some blog post ideas; it’s funny how becoming less busy leaves more room for creativity. I laid out to dry off, nearly falling asleep and then I came home. It was lovely, and strange.
I talked to Jim about this last week, through tears. It’s like I’ve been running a marathon for twenty-five years, only I haven’t. And I never would, by the way: I hate running. (I admire YOU for running, though, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine.)
For twenty-five years (since we had kids; I definitely had spare time before that!) I have been working and taking care of my family and doing this and that and filling all of my time with…stuff. And suddenly, after the busiest, most stressful year of my life, I’m hearing and feeling the brakes squeal.
I’m not used to burning just the one wick of a cute little votive candle, but I am trying to adjust. It’s a lot more simple than that crazy, multi-wicked candle. It feels too easy, and I struggle with that. I know I sound super weird suggesting that I struggle with the concept of easy living. I’m a workaholic, control freak, constant thinker. Emptiness in the schedule is one of the scariest and most difficult things, I’ve learned, when you haven’t had a lot of it in decades.
(And more change is coming.)
Right now as I try my best to live in and enjoy the moment and the summer, I’m trying to take inspiration from one of my favorite places, the beach.
I’m going to breathe in and breathe out that salty air for the rest of the summer. I’m going to ride those waves out. I’m going to practice finding things that make me smile like pushing my toes into the sand does. I’m going to look for the sun and see how having spare time enhances my ability to recharge and create things purely for the fun of creating them. Finally, I’m making a pact with myself, not to get completely used to this. Being surprised by it (and even feeling weird or guilty about it) keeps me in a place of gratitude, and I enjoy counting my blessings.