Summer Sky Fade

While summer season was ending, Whitewater Lake put on a lovely Midwest display.

Ronan fishing
A boy finds his peace.
IMGP5574
Fall bogs
IMGP5583
Silhouette of a perfect summer evening

IMGP5580

Advertisements

Playing Hooky

As we get ready to start a weekend, this reminder is for me leave some unscheduled time. And you, if you are interested.

img_7694
Sunrise Beach in Lake Bluff, IL

Last Monday morning our pantry was desolate, the laundry baskets overflowing, the garden needed weeding, pictures still needed to be hung,I had yet to pay mid-month bills, and I had to work. But you know what? I didn’t care one iota. Some weekends—especially gorgeous summer Midwestern days– are perfect days to play hooky.

The to-do lists, the chores, the having-to-fill every-moment with something productive hours can turn weekends to drudgery. Those 2 precious days can start to feel like the overburdened week days, if we cram them with minutia and busy work.

Last weekend was filled with entertaining surprises, as I tried to grab my free time with gusto.  Memories of my kids and friends could have skipped right by, if I had spent all my time on things I think I should have been doing.

Here is a short list of some of the fun, unanticipated moments to store in my memory bank.

–Sushi dinner with my kids, followed by going to see The Big Sick (highly recommend this movie!) where my daughter and I brought down the average age of viewers by about 20 years.

–Northwestern college tour followed by stunning, perfect views of Lake Michigan.

img_7669-1

–A 20 mile bike ride with friends. This workout was definitely about the destination, not the mediocre views along the way. The highlight was the stellar beach on Lake Michigan we didn’t plan to stop at, putting our toes in the sand.

 

–The former followed by an unplanned dinner al fresco with neighbors.

–Unexpected trip to the Chicago on Sunday afternoon. We were excited to finally lunch at the inviting 3 Arts Club Cafe   While waiting for our table, we wandered a neighborhood I can only dream of living in, and joined in on the Dearborn Garden Walk. Worth the wait!

img_7699
Having fun in the Restoration Hardware while waiting for our table. 
img_7708-1
Us at the lovely 3 Arts Club Cafe

Who wants to remember yet another trip to the grocery store? Boring! Go quickly, move along.

Not every weekend is as open as the last one, but hopefully you can accept some last minute invitation for FUN.  Projects can wait for another day. Be spontaneous!

The journey continues.

C

Winter Inspiration for Fun

A few weeks ago—before our deep freeze– we had the PERFECT Illinois winter snowy day. That day I cross country skied and shot the pictures I posted on this blog a couple weeks ago. My 16 year old son Ronan and his friends sledded all that afternoon.  I was secretly smiling that the boys adventures . Are you ever too old to sled?

kids1206
My 3 kids so long ago, with one of our Aussie, playing in the snow

“There were a lot of kids there. I feel like the parents were looking at all of us weird, since we were older,” Ronan said when he got home, after he said how much fun they had. And how tired they were.

“No way,” I replied. “I remember when we used to take all of you sledding when you were younger.

“ I would watch all the older kids on the hills, playing, having fun. I was so glad that they were having a blast outside, rather than watching TV or playing video games. That they still let themselves be kids.”

So, one simple idea for me this year is to find time to have more fun. Step away from the screens and daily responsibilities, just to let loose and laugh.

C

Biking in the Woods…of Memories

img_6230

©Cindy Kennedy

The leaves crackle under our bike tires, burying the path underneath the trees.   There is a sense of golden aura, with splatters of rust and green throughout, as we wind along the trail flanking the river. The geese chatter, the slight scent of decay emanates throughout.

As we ride past the mirrored lake, the swing set adjacent, I am transported immediately to my past. I remember coming to these same Captain Daniel Wright Woods often as a child. We would spend the day with our neighbors, the boys and dads fishing, the girls running, laughing, chasing dragon flies, moms relaxing with a smile.

img_6215

Afterwards all we kids played together with new friends, made up games on the jungle gym. The picnic was unpacked onto long wooden tables, my mom offering up delicious pans of fried chicken still warm in foil, bowls of cut fruit, homemade chocolate cookies, the rare treat of a can of soda.

When I was in high school, my dad taught me to cross country ski on these snow filled paths. The woods turned magic, covered with sparkling snow, as we careened through the forest.

As we continued on our current bike ride , those memories morphed into later visits, when we brought my kids, their cousins, and our dogs to enjoy that same playground. We clomped over the bridge to a hidden pond for the kids to catch frogs, skip stones, and throw bread bits as the fish broke the surface again and again.

I hope that someday my kids will come visit here, and they will remember all the times we came to the forest preserve with poignant smiles. And better yet, I hope that they can create their own memories here with their friends or family.

img_6226

Sunday Night Blues

Sunday, during the daylight hours, has that “weekend” feel. We enjoy some free time, pursue hobbies, run errands, start or complete projects, or just chill. But by dinnertime, it whispers in our conscious that the Week is starting soon.

Sunday, after our evening meal, that voice is hammering in my head: time to start the Monday-morning-prep. Mentally and physically, it can tarnish the end of a stellar weekend.  During the school year and with fewer daylight hours, time seems to compress further. And it is the whole family who feels the end of the weekend, not just me.

The minutia starts to over power my restless mind—the upcoming week’s work and family schedule overlaps. I set priorities now so we can start Monday by doing, not necessarily thinking. We are not all morning people, especially on Mondays!

I keep trying to think of ways to extend the weekend feelings until Monday morning. But, I think it would exhaust me out more to wake up Monday and not be ready to jump into the week.

I wondered, do similar feelings reverberate through our neighbors homes?   Asking a couple friends, they confirmed that similar routines and emotions run through their households. After writing most this piece, I found a 2015 Monster.com poll that showed a whopping 78% of American workers have these “Sunday Night Blues”. Wow, I had no idea!

How can we extend that weekend feeling a little longer? Most weekends we try to have a family dinner on Sunday night, which brings us together to relax, catch up, and plan for the week. We recently took a spontaneous drive to the beautiful Lake Geneva WI to wander and eat alongside the lake, which was a great change of pace. Maybe we should tweak our Sunday schedules, allow for a little more flexibility and surprise. Keep the weekend feeling alive just a few hours longer, leaving us just a smidge of time to gear up for Monday’s alarm clock ring.

If you have found successful tactics for easing into Monday morning, let me know!

C

Olympic Envy

I am obsessed. With the Olympics that is. Our family has been cheering on our US athletes in Brazil in many sports as they earn a medal, my quiet heart dropping when they don’t earn a trip to the podium.

And I am a little depressed. Watching these Olympic athletes, the incredible work and dedication they put into their lives, striving for the Gold. It makes me wistful that I don’t have that concentrated talent in anything I know of, that even younger I don’t think I could have shared “the Olympic dream”.

I listen to the athletes talk about their focus, the life events they have skipped for their dreams, the goals they set for themselves. Then re-set after they win or lose an event. Gymnast Aly Raisman came in 4th place in the all-around in the London Olympics four years ago, due to some crazy tie-breaking loss. Then she fought back to compete this year in Brazil, better than ever. The overwhelming emotions she expressed when she won the silver medal, a private moment gone global, showed how hard she worked to earn that medal.

I get so wrapped up in everyday work and life my daily goal is often so simple, like feed this family. Or get the dogs walked or go to the gym. Or get my son’s haircut before school starts. Or in a few free minutes to clean off a dresser, write a thank you note. Not all in one day, of course.

Maybe I need to set my goals a little higher.  Think a little more into the future, set some personal and family goals. It hit me that just going through the routine without any goals is also without the reward of accomplishment. I think I will have more pride in my week (month? year?) if I try to lay out some concrete goals bigger than the weekend to-do list and actually accomplish them.

C

Just Show Up

Who Shows Up? and when? It is easy to show support during joyous times. It can be far more stressful –and sometimes uncomfortable–to be available in times of crisis, confusion, or death. There are some people who you expect to Show Up during those latter times; others shock you when they reach out. Those few especially make you glance outward from your grief, realizing that circle of people you hold close is wider than you think.

It’s been a month since my dad passed away. I am still amazed at who I have heard from—and who has remained invisible– the last difficult months. Every word and action has truly made an impact on me:  a short text or phone call, stacks of cards (some from people I didn’t even know were aware my dad was gone), delivering food for us, sending flowers, reaching out a hand or hug, giving a gift card for a meal, driving people to the airport, sharing some wine, a kind word, an impactful memory, traveling to see us.

There have been foggy days and sleepless nights, my brain running in the opposite direction from where my focus needs to be.   So those gestures can jolt me back to today, now.

It is okay to feel uncomfortable when acknowledging your sentiments to me. Stumble, if you need to. You may be articulating your feelings for the first time, while I have been addressing mine for many, many hours already. Whether you express yourself with grace, anger, grief, humor, surprise, tears, hope or couched in your own experiences of someone close to you dying, it means so much when people share.

So Just. Show. Up. I know I will be more conscious of Being There in the future, during those times of mourning. Sadly, I can relate.

C