I love leisurely summer evenings, dining al fresco. Concerts in the park. Feeling sunshine on my shoulders. (And yes, I know that's a song, but I don't think the song influenced my emotions.) I don't mind the heat. Usually. In fact, we go to Palm Springs every summer for vacation. Because we like it.
Between finishing my thesis, working five days a week as a tutor, and worrying about income in the fall, I completely missed summer 2011.
This summer is different. May 17 was my last day of work, and I finished grading a few days later. I went from feeling like my life was a runaway train to having no deadlines. None.
Well, I had created a rather substantial reading list, and I had three classes to plan for. That turned into five with summer school classes. It's fine though because I like reading and I like developing lesson plans.
As I settled into a life of leisure, reading and planning, meeting with friends, making dinner nearly every evening, I began to appreciate little things. Like the smell of jasmine. Lingering over coffee in the morning, sitting at the table in front of my house, looking out into the San Diego River reserve and listening to birds. Gazing at butterflies when the swirl around the flowers in the green space. Listening to Mozart. Laughing with friends.
Most of the time I live life on the edge, and not in a good way. I'm frantically trying to do everything, and not doing anything well. I've lose touch with important friends. I never get caught up with lesson plans or grading papers. And then when I have some time, I'm too tired to enjoy life so I watch something mindless on T.V.
And so I began to ask God to help me live wisely this summer, to prepare for the busy time ahead, because classes are approaching rapidly. I want to be prepared so that I can have margins when life hits full force. And I want to recognize the importance of allowing time for friends as well as the value of looking beyond today, of allowing myself to dream about the future and then setting long-term goals and moving toward my dreams.
Oddly enough, I read about the importance of setting goals in The Circlemaker, by Mark Batterson, a book I read with my life group last winter. At the end of the session, we started setting some goals. I wrote mine in the back of my journal, which I filled up yesterday.
And so yesterday, I sat in Balboa Park, surrounded by majestic architecture, feeling summer breezes and sunlight, and I turned the page. My first thought was, what are these random ideas and why did I write them down? And then I remembered. These were things I wanted to make important.
- Go on a mission trip with Duane.
- Travel to Europe.
- Resume blogging five times per week.
- Submit articles for publication.
- Get published.
- Write a book.
- Lose 20 pounds this year.
- Eat at home a minimum of four nights per week.
Of course some of these are long-term goals, but some of them are immediate, short-term goals. I'm eating at home at least four nights per week--that's what unemployment will do for you--but I can honestly say I am no closer to meeting any of the other goals than I was when I wrote them down last March. In fact, I've gained weight.
I suppose that's the thing with goals--if you don't think about them, and if you don't create a plan, then nothing will happen. Or you move away from those goals.
I've always been a "life happens" type of person. Things come my way most of the time. That's lovely, but it's also rather limiting. And I think that's one of the reasons I end up living frenetically. I want to live purposefully, making space for the important things instead of allowing urgent things to rule my days.
Today I'm grateful for leisurely mornings with my books spread out in front of me. I'm grateful for the last page of my journal that reminded me of something I learned months ago. I'm grateful that God reminds me of things I forget.
I'm also grateful for the women I learned this with, the women in my life group. I wonder how they're doing on their goals.
Okay. I'm off. Off to enjoy lunch with one of my beautiful daughters. Off to live life.