Hard to believe we are mid-summer. I love this time of year for all of its simplicity…farmer’s markets, flip flops, easy picnic dinners on the beach at sunset. Perhaps an echo from my younger days, I have always felt that summertime feels more relaxed, even though work and family responsibilities continue with a steady rhythm.
Yet the summer of 2020 is far from relaxing. In addition to the financial stress and health concerns that are a reality for many, favorite summer activities are on hold or extensively modified. The mental energy required to thread moments of fun and respite while keeping everyone safe can be exhausting.
Spontaneity is on hold. A last minute trip to the beach requires advance planning to secure the requisite parking pass that assures access.
5:00 PM cocktails on Zoom replace evenings spent at a crowded, trendy restaurant.
And our kids? Their summer plans have been cancelled, reduced, or adapted, leaving them with yet more time to fill after their education was abruptly disrupted in March. Parents tap into their limited energy reserves to negotiate with teens yet again, weighing the effects this period will have on their emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being.
The hardships are real and by no means can we trivialize them. With no end in sight, stress and anxiety take a toll on us. It has become increasingly difficult to plan anything given the rapidly changing rules and policies that drive a lot of routines.
And still, there remain many things that we can enjoy, as long as we take the time to notice, to be mindful of them. The gifts of summer extend well beyond the vacations, pool parties, and traditions we find ourselves mourning. Many summer treasures are accessible and more than ever, offer necessary moments of joy when we pause and pay attention to them. Topping my list this summer:
- That first bite of a perfectly ripened peach
- Early morning exercise before the day becomes heavy with heat
- The pre-dawn chirping of birds outside my open window
- The beauty of a garden in full bloom
- A nighttime thunderstorm
- A prospering tomato plant started from seedling
Think about your list of summer favorites. How would it feel to slow down and notice those tiny moments of happiness that sometimes pass unacknowledged? Allowing oneself to enjoy these simple pleasures is a simple and powerful tool to use, especially during these unprecedented times.