Thursday, September 01, 2005
last night, i went to the mn state fair with my partner and a couple of close friends. it was a beautiful evening, we ate great food, rode frighteningly fun rides, watched baby chicks hatch from their eggs and admired great art made from everything from driftwood to cream of wheat. i love the fair. it's a fabulous minnesota tradition and one that always makes summer feel complete for me.
as we wandered among the barns and pronto pup stands our conversation inevitably turned to the onset of fall and the ending of summer. my friends made the usual comments about how quickly summer had passed and how they couldn't believe it was over. the very same comments i'd heard from coworkers earlier in the day.
the strange thing was i didn't find myself chiming in to agree this year. instead, i noted how i feel like summer has been full and long. a great expanse of fun, adventure and sunshine. i'd certainly felt as they did in the past, like summer had flown by, so what was different about this year?
i realized as i thought about it this morning that two things contributed to my newfound perspective. the first is that i made a decision early on this year that i was going to live this summer fully. i didn't have a ton of vacation time, but i deeply enjoyed the time i did. moreover, i lived all of my free time this summer as much like a vacation as possible. whether it was taking a trip to the beach three times in one week or laying in the sunshine in my backyard reading, i took full advantage of what summer in minnesota has to offer.
the second, and possibly more important reason, is that i have simply taken some time to reflect on the events of the summer. sitting down to reread my journal entries from my trip out west this june, or remembering the feel of swimming in the warm water of lake superior in july has helped me to know that i had a full summer.
it seems to me that our attitude that time is passing quickly, escaping us before we've had a chance to really enjoy it, is one more way we give up on really being present in our lives.
'if summer is already over what chance do i have of really enjoying fall before winter hits?', we ask ourselves.
what if instead we chose a perspective of noticing how full our lives have been this summer. taking stock of all the learning and growth we've experienced in the last three months. how might this affect our outlook on the months ahead?
and let's be clear i'm not assuming that you had a great summer, maybe it has been a rough few months. regardless, noticing how we have grown and that the passing of time has changed us is a useful perspective to hold as we think about what is possible for the time that lies ahead of us.
try it out, make a list either on paper or just in your head of what happened in your life this summer. here are some questions to get you started:
-what new perspectives do i have now that i didn't have at the beginning of the summer? what events brought these about?
-what are my highlights of the summer?
-how have i grown this summer? what did i learn?
sometimes using events as markers can help us to realize how much we actually have experienced and grown. for instance think about what books you were reading at the beginning of the summer, or what you did the first weekend of june, how were you feeling then and how is that different from how you are feeling now?
the more we can notice how rich and full our lives truly are, the more energy we have for making them even richer and fuller.
so the next time someone says "can you believe summer is over already?" you can respond with a real answer about how this summer shaped your life.
as always, post your thoughts here. i'd love to hear your answers to the questions above or any thoughts you have about the passing of time!
New perspectives: I've begun a regular spiritual reading/conversation group with two other friends and have gained new ideas and perspectives on my place in the universe from these meaningful conversations. I've also begun to realize that situations that upset me in my work or parts of my life happen because my ego gets in the way. Having the opportunity to create a dialogue about these situations with these trusted friends has allowed me to learn a lot about myself - even when they are things I don't particularly want to hear!
The highlights of my summer mostly have to do with the travel I've been able to incorporate into my work - speaking and presenting new information to groups in places like South Padre Island and Greenville, South Carolina have allowed me to connect with people in various parts of the U.S. by sharing similar messages and getting similar feedback. People are people regardless of their location or upbringing, and I've gotten lots of validation for who I'm being by being around others who share similar life positions.
In looking back, I can see that I've gained new insights into our human connectedness and have also realized that I do have something to say and to add to others' life experiences. If it weren't for the study I'm doing with my friends at home, I might not have been able to step into my own personal story to be able to share with my speaking audiences as authentically as I've been doing this summer. In that way, as I look back, I've allowed others to become powerful by stepping into my own power.
Thanks for the look back, Kirsten!