My last afternoon in frigid Paris I walked all through the Luxembourg Gardens, taking pictures. So many of the pics I found online were taken the other 3 seasons. I found it to be peaceful. There were other people walking, talking, exercising, playing, reading, laughing.
The journey continues.
P.S. If you want to use any of these pictures, please ask first. And credit me.
As we get ready to start a weekend, this reminder is for me leave some unscheduled time. And you, if you are interested.
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.
–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!
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!
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?
“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.
Many of you know that my dad passed away this year. I have to count on 3 hands my friends who are also celebrating their first holidays with one fewer parent. It isn’t easy, this “Year of Firsts”. As we move through December, I know I will need to find some time to step away from the myriad of activities and stress that comes with the holiday season.
Even in a normal year, the end of year pressures can be great. Here are 6 easy ideas to try for a 30-60 minute inexpensive escape.
Spend an hour alone in a coffee shop, with NO electronic media unless you need music to distract from other patrons. Write, read, stare out the window.
Go for a winter walk.
Practice yoga. According to The Mayo Clinic, yoga helps to relieve stress, find focus, and improve flexibility. Ironically, I just got an offer today to sign up for a free 21-day session on Wanderlust, starting in January. Feel free to join up, if you want to start a yoga practice at home.
If you only have 5-10 minutes to spare, meditation offers many similar benefits. If you think you can’t meditate, all the more reason you should try it. (I was one of those people; I can’t sit still!) Simply sit or lay quietly, close your eyes, hands facing up to accept more energy from around you. TRY to clear your mind, but if a thought wanders in, accept it and let it flow on. Start to breathe deeper—to your belly and collar bones. A really informative post about the benefits of meditation can be found on the Live and Dare website.
Pay it forward. Whether you work with an organization or do a simple gesture to a stranger, your spirit will soar.
Dance party–turn up your music to your favorite song and move those feet! Or just sing along. If you are by yourself, no one will ever know if you have no rhythm or sing off-key.
You are not alone in stress or loss this year. Know that it is okay to say NO to attending events. Every party, gathering, obligation does not require a yes response. Not overloading is the key to enjoying the next 30 days.
P.S. Dogs encourage you to go out and walk all year round. There are many of shelter dogs and organizations willing to help match you with your perfect Furrever friend this holiday season.
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.
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.