Tag Archive | finding peace

Summer Breeze ….

 

A Summer Breeze can come along at the most needed time to refresh and restore your summer-soul!

A Summer Breeze can come along at the most needed time to refresh and restore your summer-soul!

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

I can relate to my fellow blogger Karen’s latest blog about having the summertime blues (click here). It hasn’t exactly been the summer of my dreams either. There are, in fact, several songs written about experiencing a sad summer!

Karen’s thoughts reminded me a lot of having “the blues” around holidays – especially noteworthy in that regard is Christmas. We have a lot of expectations about Christmastime, and put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to make it “perfect” for us and our families, and rarely is it ever like in the movies.

Summer is the same way. We expect that we will simply end the school year, or enter the slower work season, with an automatic transition to s—l—o—w. We expect that we will be healthy and happy as we frolic in the sun at the beautiful beach-side condo we saved all year to rent. We expect that in those two or three warmer months of bright sunshine and clear skies, we will find calm, peace, and – well, Zen.

The reality is, however, that life is still just that: Life (with a capital ‘L’). And just because we expect it to slow down doesn’t mean it will. So, what is one’s option for “getting away from it all” when, at the end of the summer day, you simply can’t? Recently, I found one answer to this question lies in….

WIND CHIMES!

True Zen CAN be yours this summer!

True Zen CAN be yours this summer!

This idea came to me as I was experiencing yet another rather hectic summer morning. It was the usual a.m. routine: I’m startled awake by my young son at my bedside, up and ready to go (too ready to go); I feed my child, feed my dog and barely feed myself; and then dash my little guy off to a full day of fun-in-the-sun at camp.

When I’m not in the midst of all this, I wonder why it is that I can never seem to get it all done – my son is away all day. However, a big job called “Too Much” always stares me down the moment I walk through the door after camp drop-off and I never win the staring contest. I’m not quite sure how other women seem to find the time for that relaxing cup of coffee on their flower-pot-filled deck before it gets too hot, but that simply just doesn’t exist in my world!

This morning, however, I decided to outwit Too Much. So when I parked my car in the driveway and got out, I headed straight for the rustic walking path my husband created and which winds around the hilly perimeter of our 2 ½ acre property. I needed these woods today – along with the peace, quiet, and serenity they bring. As I strolled the wood chip laden path, I noticed the wind chimes my husband had hung on tree branches along the way. They have been present along the path for some time, yet for some reason this morning I was more “in tune” with them.

Have you tinkled your wind chime today?

Have you tinkled your wind chime today?

As I walked by, I reached up and gently touched the chimes. With each of the wind chimes, I listened to the different sounds the silver, rounded-end bars made as they knocked back and forth along one another – focusing on the quiet, subtle tinkling of one wind chime and the hollow bonging of another. Sometimes I would let the sound die out and the chimes stop moving before I walked on which forced me to be still for a while. During one of my laps around, I even stopped in front of each chime; and either whispered a prayer for someone or for myself, or offered a petition that reflected a need I had been holding in my heart.

Besides helping me to find some calm within before returning to my house to face Too Much, our wind chimes looked – and sounded – so beautiful, especially when a Summer Breeze came along. I had finally found my summertime Zen!

Have you been in need of some inner peace this summer? Why not take a simple walk and let us know what you saw, heard, or even touched that brought some sunshine to your world – we would love to hear from you!

Advertisements

Lessons from the Playground

Today we welcome guest blogger Lisa Cadigan! This talented mom manages the blog Daily Presents: Finding the Extraordinary in the Everyday, where this piece was originally published. You can learn more about Lisa in the bio which follows her article.

playgroundlessons1

By Lisa Cadigan

My family and I spent Saturday at a state park where we hiked for a while until we reached a playground at the end of the trail.  It was a beautiful day; the first peek of spring getting ready to burst forth in all of its splendor, and it felt great to be outside basking in sunshine under tall trees with the people I love most.

The kids had been looking forward to reaching the playground during a good deal of the hike – particularly my son, who often forgets to realize that he is actually presently having fun.  He often chooses to look for what may be coming that’s potentially better in his future rather than realize that the moment he is already occupying is pretty good, too.  We are working on that.

By the time we reached the playground, both kids were happy to be there.  They had been getting along pretty well all day, which I always view as a small miracle, and I hoped their shared adventure would continue now that we had reached the much anticipated playground destination.

Unfortunately, though, shortly after arriving at the playground, my daughter tripped and fell on the suspension bridge, leaving a painful red mark on the side of her belly.  She started to cry.  My son rushed to her aid, trying to make her feel better, a little afraid that it might somehow be his fault, I think, because he often feels that everything is his fault (which sometimes it is, but not always – this is another thing we are working on).  He started to give her a big bear hug and sing a song we had made up for her when she was a baby.  She got angry and started yelling at him that she was NOT a baby.  Plus, the hug was TOO MUCH.  The brand of help he was offering was not what she needed at that time.  We tried to explain this to our son; to thank him for trying to help, to tell him we were so glad he was looking out for his sister, but that part of helping people is listening carefully to find out what they need and then to offer THAT to them, if you have it to offer.  The truth is, I am not sure my daughter really knew WHAT she needed, because when he finally left her alone she became angry that he wasn’t paying attention to her anymore.  He was frustrated that his efforts were unsuccessful.  She was looking for an apology for the stupidity of his efforts.  My guess is that she just needed a little alone time to allow the sting to go away, and then an acknowledgment from him that he loved her and understood how much it stinks to fall and hurt yourself; that he was there for her while she healed.  He couldn’t magically heal the red mark, though.  Her body was going to have to do that in cooperation with a little time and space.

Later, when we sat on the deck in our yard, my daughter’s previously bruised belly poking out of her shirt in the warm sunshine, I hoped that she was feeling the soothing rays of the sun more acutely than the bruise; that maybe the bruise was even making her a little more aware of the warm sun, so that she could convert her anger at the stupid playground equipment that bruised her and her brother who couldn’t adequately comfort her into gratitude for the warm sun that was presently soothing her skin.  I hoped her brother would check back in with her to see if she was OK later, when she was a little more open to feeling his unique (and sometimes trying) brand of love.

I am supposedly a grown up now, but I still hike and play the playground games from the points of view of both my son and my daughter. I don’t always know how to comfort the people I love when they need comfort.  I struggle with giving them what they need in the times that they need it.  And I can get really frustrated when my efforts don’t work.  On the plus side, I am getting better at living in the present and at looking within myself to heal some of my own wounds and find my own peace, although I still need to remember that

a)    having the space and time to look deeply is largely possible thanks to the people around me who make a gift of that time and space.  I can’t take that for granted.

And

b)   my methods of finding peace may not work for everyone. Pushing my methods to find happiness and peace onto others in an effort to “help” rather than just giving them the time and space to figure out how these things work for themselves is like giving big bear hugs and singing baby songs.

Hiking and playground games seem to be my life’s work.  I don’t think I will ever master the games; but I keep playing them and playing them, varying the methods and strategies to keep it interesting.  The longer I play, the more apparent the simplicity of the rules becomes, and yet the act of playing still makes me breathe as hard as I do when I hike up a mountain.  Somehow knowing that hiking to a playground is simply the act of putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t make the work of the actual hike any easier.  But with practice, I am finding that it is possible to enjoy the feeling of the burn in my muscles when I play hard.

Today I am thankful for the people in my life who play with me every day.  May we continue to play without keeping score, and graciously offer “do-overs” whenever necessary.  May we take breaks when we need to, help each other up and try again when we stumble and fall, revel in the best moments of the game, remember the best views on the hike, and use all of the memories to help us appreciate the new moments as they come.  And at the end of the day, we need to give a high-five to all of the beloved peeps on our team, saying, “Well done.  Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

web-bio-lisaOff the Merry-Go-Round is a place of community & inspiration for parents who have scaled back their professional careers in favor of quality family time… and from the first moment we met Lisa Cadigan, we admired her excellent sense of balance between career and family. “I have been given a great gift – the ability to find joy in simple moments, the ability to find longer and longer periods of balance and peace in a busy, hectic life,” Lisa writes on her blog Daily Presents. Professionally, Lisa established Cadigan Creative, “laying a foundation for the elusive balance between career and family.” You can find out more about Lisa’s graphic design and marketing services on the Cadigan Creative website, where she also shares stories about how people are using creativity, kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. Brava, Lisa!