It’s here. Those twelve simple weeks we wait for all year.
Blue skies, bright sunshine, warm sand beneath the toes. The sweet smell of lotion in the air, the fine mist of sunscreen that lands on you like tiny dew drops on the beach from a nearby mom giving her young ones a spray.
A season bound in promise, pleasure and a slew of expectations.
After a long winter, summer is like a luxurious exhale. Warm sticky days that stretch out like taffy….and balmy nights beneath star filled skies. Friends, family, barbecues, bike rides. A melted ice cream on the boardwalk, the salty pleasure of hot crispy fries.
Summer is for simplicity.
Mother Nature’s invitation to relax, and allow the soul to catch-up with the body.
But the very thought of summer’s arrival can bring a hint of pressure. Let’s face it. As blessed and beautiful as our summers may be they often comes with some undeniable fine print:
“Get ready, it’s going to be a busy one.”
As the invitations roll in and talk of all the upcoming fundraisers, events and social obligations fill the air, the mere thought of a night on the boardwalk in flip flops can feel like an impossibility. Finding some precious down-time for a family barbecue can even be a stretch. Suddenly the nerves set in. Navigating the two poles of “gracious participation” and “self-preservation” becomes the great summer challenge. Who doesn’t love a good party? But maintaining one’s peace of mind when you are running around at a pace and frequency that would put even Beyonce in bed for a month is tough. And let’s not forget the incredible care that goes into looking our best day in and day out. When surrounded by so much beauty its easy for our self-esteem to occasionally take a hit.
Inevitably the mind starts whirring, and so the dance begins…
“Am I ready?”
“Are my clothes going to fit?”
“Do I have “the right” clothes?
“Do I have enough clothes?”
“Will I get invited?”
“Do I want to be invited?’
“Do I have to go?”
“Will my kids have a good summer?”
“Will they meet someone?”
“Will I meet someone?”
“Will I have time for myself?”
The final question landing with a thud:
“Will this be a good summer?”
So if you want to join me in creating the kind of summer that YOU want read on. With a little awareness and preparation we can balance the abundance, enjoy those parties, and feel good about ourselves every day.
1. Start Planning, Now. There is a saying: “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”
They say people who write their goals down are 40% more likely to achieve them. That means it’s time to break out the pad and pen and begin making a list of the things you want to do this summer. Taking advantage of the seasonal opportunities summer brings will require clarity, intention and your calendar. It’s easy to go into automatic when all of our days and nights feel spoken for. Sit down and begin plugging into your calendar the things you want to be sure to do. (Yes, even relaxing)
It’s not about finding the time. It’s about creating it.
2. Brush up on those boundaries.
If you are like me, saying ‘no’ can feel like your’e committing a crime. But if we want to make time for ourselves this summer we have to know our limits and respect them.
(Deep breath here) That is going to require you to ditch the guilt. There isn’t enough time in these twelve short weeks to take care of our feelings and everyone else’s. So if you want to have a stress-free summer you have to get honest with yourself about what you can or can’t do. And then be prepared to act on it. Yes, that can be scary. Who wants to disappoint others? Yet putting yourself first doesn’t not have to be the end of the road with the people you care about. There is a way to graciously decline a plan and offer an alternative that works for both of you. Create choices for yourself and others. Turning down an invitation can look like, “I won’t be able to join you guys at the beach today but I would love to see you next week for dinner.”
Tip: Make this a “YAHOO” summer- You Always Have Other Options.
3. Set Limits on Your Time.
This is a trap for many. It is really easy to go somewhere and stay a little longer than necessary. How many times do you find yourself lapsing into mind-numbing pleasantries just to fill time? It’s not about liking or not liking people. It’s about being engaged and authentic.
At the next event when you find yourself making small talk, check in with yourself and ask “Am I enjoying my conversation with this person? Do I even want to be here? Do I believe in this cause?” If the answer is “no” it’s probably time to wrap things up.
Soulutions: (that was a misprint but I don’t believe there are any coincidences)
Schedule more time for the events, affairs, and people you feel most connected to or interested in. As for plans that you feel ambivalent about, practice giving yourself permission to opt out if you just don’t have the energy. If you decide to go, limit your time there. Make a plan and devise a gracious exit strategy just in case you’re not feeling it.
4. Look around but don’t stare.
Summer is for fun and the great outdoors. You know what that means. With so many people in your line of sight it’s all too easy to look around and begin comparing yourself to others. That my friend, is the spiritual kiss of death.
You might find yourself thinking…
“How did I not know everyone has that/is doing that/going there?” (Which if we are not careful can translate into “What’s wrong with me?”)
People can inspire and motivate us. But if you are looking around and using what you see to beat up on yourself, it’s time to focus on what makes you happy and let the rest go. (Case in point- put me in a pool party with enough women wearing high heels and I can immediately decide I need to purchase a 6” wedge despite the fact that I have always been a flip flop girl. I kid you not.)
Be you. Be unique. Authenticity and self-esteem are powerfully attractive qualities.
5. Shift your thinking.
They say “Being in your head, can be like being alone in a bad neighborhood.”
That means paying attention to what is going on inside of your head. Every. Single. Day.
The mind is the most powerful tool we have. If you are not feeling good about yourself notice where your focus is. Are you doing a number on yourself for not being included in someone else’s plan? How much time are you spending thinking or talking about those slights? Notice your “self-talk.” Is it critical or judgmental? Our inner dialogue can dramatically shift how we feel about ourselves, which of course, impacts our summer.
Coach’s tip: Use your thinking to empower yourself and bolster your self-esteem. Spend time with people you enjoy and who appreciate you. Relax, let go and focus on the beauty of nature instead of where you may have gone or didn’t go last night. Reframe the things that don’t go your way by looking for the positive in each situation. Do fun things and show yourself every day that you matter.
Because you do.