1. Take opportunities when you can.
With the kiddo out of school and a two week break myself, we found ourselves with more time to take advantage of. Spontaneous day trips to the beach, long evening walks, dance parties in the living room – any opportunity for fun and adventure we could take, we’ve been jumping on. Most notably, we took a week-long trip to the beach with my mom. When our time at our condo was up, we didn’t want to leave so we found the only open hotel around and stayed another four days. Jumping on opportunities this month brought more bonding, more smiles, more happiness to our busy lives.
2. A change in perspective can make all the difference.
As Father’s Day approached mid-month, I expected to feel sad, upset, a generally negative reaction to the holiday that The Hubs and Little Man never got the opportunity to experience together. Instead, my kiddo changed my perspective. Looking at the holiday through new eyes made it a positive thing for both of us. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have or what has happened in the past, focusing on what we currently have and what the experiences of our past have given us makes all the difference.
3. Slow down.
Taking a week at the beach this month was so, so good for my soul. For that week (plus a few days), time slowed down. Worries and responsibilities were forgotten as my kiddo, my mother, and I moved on island time. Mornings unfolded slowly, tea and coffee savored. We basked in the sun (a little too much on the first day!), breathed in the fresh breeze, and floated along the waves. Many afternoon naps were had and several books were read. Delicious food was devoured and nightly walks on the beach witnessed God’s beauty in the sunsets. Moving slowly, in tune with nature and enjoying the pace of our own feet, gave me time to reflect and allow some of the weight to slip off of my shoulders.
4. Be mindful of your thoughts.
Someone once said, “You are what you think. All that you are arises from your thoughts. With your thoughts you make your world.” This month I realized I was creating a lot of the negative in my world with my thoughts. No matter how much work you try to do to improve yourself, if you still harbor negative, obsessive thoughts you aren’t going to get anywhere (or you’ll get there very late with a load of baggage). I had hit a plateau in my fitness goals and was beating myself up with how I wasn’t strong enough. I was weighed down with guilt over a situation I couldn’t control and feeling like a horrible person. I was consumed with thoughts of people and relationships and letting it take my focus. By paying attention to how often I thought of certain things and literally saying ‘stop’ while visualizing a stop sign in my mind each time one of these negative thoughts popped up, I’m returning to mindfulness.
5. The sea will always be my personal salve.
During our week away we spent each evening at the shore. Sitting in the sand, feeling the breeze blow and listening to the sound of waves just does something to my soul. There is something so calming about the sea, something about the majesty of the ocean that can heal over nearly every wound. It is a reminder of how life has existed and persisted for so long before me and will continue to long after I am gone. It puts my life back into perspective and reminds me of God’s greater purpose.
6. Treasure your family, whatever it looks like.
Some of the sweetest moments in life are created when you are with your family. That close circle around you, those people who will always be there for you in every season of your life, the ones you can depend on and can depend on you. Those people who know you inside and out, who can accept you at your worst and celebrate with you at your best. The ones you would do anything for. That family can take so many shapes and consist of many different relationships. My family may not fit the traditional mold, but I treasure them so much.
7. Don’t feel guilty when you have to say no.
I’ve struggled with this most of my life. I am a people pleaser; I like to help others. If I can possibly have a positive impact on someone, I will do so gladly. But the positive side of this trait can quickly be overshadowed if you don’t set personal boundaries. So many times I have let my kindness be taken advantage of because I didn’t say no. Either I was afraid of hurting someone, worried I might make things harder for them, or thought I was being selfish. Usually the guilt led to hesitation which ended up dragging things out and making it even harder in the long run. But slowly I’ve come to learn that it is not selfish to set personal boundaries. And as long as the decision comes from the kindness of your heart, I should not be afraid to say no.
8. Scratching off long-put-off tasks brings sweet relief.
There is nothing quite like putting a big ole check in a box or crossing a line through a task. While I am pretty laid-back and free spirited, I am also slightly Type-A (okay maybe more than slightly…). I like lists, I like planning. The Hubs used to call me the Binder Queen because I made a binder for everything (budgets, important documents, an entire moving plan, etc.). I like the neatness and order of organizing. But the free-flowing side of me often counteracts that, especially since the loss of The Hubs. I haven’t made a binder in ages, my lists overflow until I just toss them in the trash incomplete, I procrastinate like crazy. But this month I used my time off to tackle some of those long-put-off tasks and oh man, it felt good.
9. You’ll always question your parenting.
I love my son more than life. I try my best to recognize the beauty in the small moments and I treasure them so, so much. I know these times go by way too quickly and he’ll be all grown up before I know it. But ya’ll, I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes parenting is so hard. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing a good job. Okay, I always wonder if I am doing a good job. There are moments when it is apparent that all of the values I am trying to instill in Little Man are actually sinking in, but there are many more when he is just a wild four year old. My sweet boy is so very sensitive and loving, but he is also extremely high energy and too smart for his own good. Lately he has an attitude the size of Texas and not enough self-control to stop it. Some days it can feel like a losing battle and it takes all I have in me not to cry, resentful of doing this alone. But something I read recently stuck with me and I realized: that is just parenting. You will always question if you are doing the right thing. Just when you think you have it together, they’ll change it up. But when I am ready to pull my hair out or go buy a muzzle (not really, don’t CPS me), I try to remember those quiet snuggles when that sweet face smiles and says ‘I love you Mommy’. That makes it all worth it.
10. Eat ice cream at sunset on the beach.
Just do it. It will change your life. Trust me.