With summer coming to a close, and my search for Little Kelly still underway, I decided to review my sabbatical list and regroup. September always brings about thoughts of starting fresh with a clear head. Mmm....fresh school supplies! If I could somehow incorporate a trapper keeper, some new folders, and plastic sleeves into this regrouping exercise, I would be very happy.
At the time I wrote down my initial sabbatical list the to-do's poured out of me like lava flowing from a volcano. I had no control over what my pen was writing. Clearly there were things hanging over my head that my subconscious needed to get out. In retrospect, I clearly felt my physical house was out of order and if I just cleaned my bathrooms, steam cleaned my rugs, and washed the kitchen floor I was sticking to then life would be easier.
Well, now I don't stick to the kitchen floor anymore...but that's just because I can't see it. It's covered with everything from our last camping trip and some hay from the bunny cage. And oddly enough, I am less stressed about how much messier my house is now.
This summer, I very rarely caught myself saying "I need to clean!" but often found myself giving permission to sit down, read a book, and enjoy the day. People, this is HUGE progress for me!! How many of you feel guilty for taking an hour to just sit and read a book or take some time to do nothing? And why don't we do that more often? The cleaning will always be there, the weeds aren't going anywhere, and all those errands can wait until tomorrow. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be constantly on the go? And when we are constantly in motion, how can we take the time to notice all the little things in life that make our days worth it?
I am proud to say that of the 8 things I accomplished on my list so far, only two have to do with cleaning. And let me tell you, cleaning under the kitchen sink did nothing for me and I will never wash my windows again. I still can't get all the grates snapped back into place and at least one falls on the floor a day.
But I did plan a trip with my girlie friend Beth and we are leaving in a couple of weeks for Ohio to attend the Country Living Fair (check it out online www.countryliving.com/fair). We can NOT wait! I took up painting again. The kids and I spent many camping nights creating watercolors by candlelight. The kids are such talented painters and I have totally enjoyed finding my creative groove again. I am even thinking of taking a watercolor painting course this fall.
Speaking of camping, you can tell by my blog that we camped ALOT and it was awesome! I took Jack out to dinner last night and asked him what the best part of this summer was and he said it was all the camping we did. And you know what, my kids went tv free for at least 3 solid weeks this summer and they didn't complain about it once.
I have also read a ton. Last week while we camped I read three books! I have read 17 books since the beginning of June. I'm pretty sure that is the same amount of books I read in the past 5 years combined. I'm happy to see that many of you are taking recommendations from my list and that you continuing to send me your favs. I don't know when I'll have another opportunity to read so much and I am loving every minute of it!
Here are some other things I accomplished so far that weren't on list:
1. I have a kick ass tan. Best I have ever had in my life. And yes, I have been vigilant about sunscreen. But the back of my legs are tan for the first time since I was a teenager and my toes are tan. In my book, tan toes are a sign that you enjoyed your summer.
2. I truly felt like a kid again this summer. I read books, painted, had countless picnic lunches, swam alot, rode bikes, played games, and just relaxed and enjoyed each day. I know how lucky I am to have had this opportunity to take time off and I have appreciated every minute.
3. I got creative. I grouted sea glass and shells on my tub surround. I made a necklace out of a black oyster shell I found on Assateague Island. I painted some frame worthy (at least in my opinion) watercolors. I started this blog. I have always loved writing and I am glad I got back into it. It's like daily therapy for me. I have a notebook of blog ideas...just haven't had enough time to actually post them. When you take the time to slow down and listen to yourself, you'll find that there are all kinds of creative things waiting to burst from within.
4. I gained weight. My muffin top now has a muffin top. This certainly was not on my list of things to get done while I was on sabbatical. But, I loved every single onion ring, pizza slice, french fry, full sugar coca cola, and glass of wine I put in my mouth. I had fun doing it and I wouldn't take this summer back for anything. The old Kelly would be so remorseful of the choices I made and I would be wallowing in self pity and guilt. But not the new Kelly...I'm just going to accept the choices I made and deal with them. I'll get busy and get in shape once the kids go back to school and I'm not going to beat myself up over how I got here. And I haven't lost a friend yet over my weight gain. People like me for me, not the size of the shorts I can fit into. And if you don't like me anymore because I am pudgy, then go to hell :)
5. I realized that having a clean house doesn't make for a happy soul. Sure, organization and clean floors make you feel good but it's the little stuff that fuels you and makes for a happy life. Spending time with your girlfriends, taking the time to play a game with your kids (even if it is Monopoly), sharing your day with your hubby after the kids have gone to bed...these are the things that make you smile at the end of the day. I used to feel out of control because the house was out of order, but what I was really missing were the little things that fed my soul and kept me happy. I hope to never lose perspective on that again.
I worry that when I go back to work I will look back on these days with anger instead of joy. Anger that life got complicated again, that I don't have the luxury of time anymore, that I lost myself again. Every day I tell myself that I will be able to keep a better balance now that I've had this time...that I won't slip back into my old workaholic, stressed out self. I do have confidence in myself that I will be able to find a better balance and will recognize when I am slipping away again. But if for some reason I don't, will you remind me of this post?
Take the time to rediscover what you need to feed your soul and feel happy every day. You will be glad you did.