As usual, summer is flying by – between get-togethers with family and friends, summer vacations, extra walks for ice cream, the summer softball league, and all the other additional activities we try to fit into June, July and August, it’s no wonder that time seems to pass even more quickly than the rest of the year. At the same time, I also notice that the longer days, the heat, the types of leisure activities we plan, and the general mentality that accompanies summer allow us to slow down and savor the moments a bit more.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that my team and I love to pick a monthly theme… it’s how we focus our intentions for the month, an optimistic mindset that we want to especially embrace and share through our writings, photos, and energy. In thinking about the theme for August, it seemed obvious to make our intention about Embracing Every Moment. That’s what summer is all about, right???
Fall is also one of the busiest and craziest times of year for many of us, so taking time to slow down and savor more of our day-to-day moments seemed like the perfect focus leading into the fall.
In preparing for this intention, it’s easy – and I think many of us default – to want to embrace all the good moments throughout the day that can quickly pass us by. Sharing coffee with our partner in the morning or making breakfast with our kids, a chance to go on a walk and connect with nature, time to dive into a more meaningful conversation with a co-worker, the beauty of a summer lightning storm, pausing to watch the sunset. There are little moments we often take for granted and it is so valuable to embrace these moments.
And yet, I’ve been reminded truly embracing every moment is about being fully present for the difficult and challenging moments too, embracing them for what they are and what they represent and what we can learn in those moments, being grateful for what comes as a result of those challenging times. It is easy to wish away the difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging experiences that often mark our days. The argument with a friend or sibling, spilling coffee on your new white dress or shirt (not that I do that on a regular basis or anything…), getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, being lost on vacation and missing your reservation for the restaurant you had been waiting for months to visit.
It’s not easy to embrace the difficult moments, but I’ve been working on that this summer, alongside embracing the little joys. Here’s some of the moments I’ve been embracing lately:
- Drinking coffee and writing in my journal from my front porch every morning. I love the sounds of my neighborhood waking up, and using this to ease into the day.
- The messiness and delays and surprises of doing a construction project in my living room, dining room, and kitchen. Having a house in complete disorder significantly impacts my psyche, and it creates a lot of energy (i.e. stress) for me. I’ve been working on embracing these moments with gratitude… gratitude for my home, for the creative vision to make my space even more beautiful, gratitude for the family and friends that have donated time and labor and design opinions to the process. There’s also things that I can’t quite find gratitude in, but I am embracing… such as the fact that everything in my house is going to have to be cleaned from top to bottom to remove the 1inch thick layer of dust that has settled on everything. I don’t love cleaning, and I don’t think I’ll ever be grateful for hours that I have to spend cleaning, but I have managed to embrace that it is part of the process, and it’s giving me the opportunity to go through my house completely (and maybe Marie Kondo it a bit!) and I know that on the other side of it, my house will be cleaner than it’s ever been.
- Vacation with friends! I spent 8 days laughing non-stop and being sillier than I’ve been in years. I tried hard to memorize every single one of those moments of uncontrollable giggling and ridiculous shenanigans. There were too many to catalog them all, but every day I reminisce about the joy from that vacation and it continues to bring me so much joy in memories.
- Plumbing problems. My boiler and one of my tenant’s boilers both died, completely, to a very expensive tune. It’s not fun, or ideal, or easy to find joy in it, but I’ve been trying to embrace the process… that it means fewer plumbing problems in the next few years because I’ll now have a new boiler, and it reminds me to be grateful for clean and hot water.
- Growing my garden. I have never been one to have a green thumb, and as it is I have a “fend for yourself” policy with the plants in my garden, so it amazes me every year when zucchini and tomatoes and dozens of herbs are abundant. And I find so much joy in making a salad or dinner from the food that grew in my yard. Who knew it could be so fulfilling to pick your own basil or watch a tomato plant blossom?
- Difficult and vulnerable conversations. Wow have there been a lot of these this summer. With family, with friends, with colleagues. And while they can be uncomfortable (vulnerability usually is, right?) and challenging, I know they also mean that these relationships have an opportunity for growth and depth that they wouldn’t otherwise have. So instead of trying to hurry them along or avoid the discomfort, I’m leaning in to the awkward, hard truths and embracing these challenging conversations.
- Long morning walks. I like to walk in the morning as part of my daily routine, and I’m now enjoying these morning walks with my parents who are in town visiting. While it’s different than the way I normally start my day – with a lot of quiet and solitude – I’m embracing the regular quality time I’m blessed with over these 2 months my parents are here.
I could go on and on, with both joys and challenges, that have defined my summer. It’s been a great summer and a challenging summer and I’m grateful for being present for it all, embracing the moments and the people and experiences. Even in the difficult seasons of life, being fully present and embracing the moments allow room for more joy… which is equally true for the outstanding moments, and the day-to-day seemingly mundane ones too.
Click to tweet: Even in the difficult seasons of life, being fully present and embracing the moments allow room for more joy.
Elizabeth Shaw & The Davine Team