You know, growing up in New Jersey as a little girl, summer time was about eating breakfast and disappearing until my mother called us in for lunch… which we would eat as quickly as possible before heading out until dinner.
We’d run and play, climb trees, ride our bikes, jump in the sprinkler, throw the ball in the street, and sneak into the old lady’s backyard who was kind of weird and cranky but would occasionally give us gum.
It’s when we’d draw hopscotch on the uneven sidewalks, do Cat’s Cradle (and almost always mess up on Jacob’s ladder) and do patty-cake-style hand games like “Miss Lucy Had a Steamboat” and “Miss Mary Mack”.
We would sometimes walk down to the avenue to get Baumart’s Ice Cream and for an extra bonus, stop in the Five and Dime store so we could scour the rows and rows of baskets to pick out a little game or candy.
Those summer days were the best!
By dinner time, my mom would hold open the screen door, wave her hand in front of her nose and say, “You smell like little puppies instead of little girls” and we would be ushered up for a bath and our pj’s before dinner.
These were the sighing and contented days.
After dinner, we’d sit on the brick front stoop in our nightgowns, schlurping Italian ice and watching the sun fade into the trees. We’d count the minutes until dark: That was lightning bug catching time. We’d grab our jelly jars with holes in the lids and chase the flashes around our yard to see who would be the first to catch magic in her hands.
I loved it.
I didn’t have a perfect life, but I had really, really sweet times like this that hold a special place in my heart.
When I think of August, however, I remember the Dog Days of Summer. Those days that were too hot to move, when you couldn’t run the window air conditioner for too long because it would freeze up, and you ate your weight in ice pops (since no one was carrying around water bottles in 1978) to stay constantly hydrated.
It’s when we ate black raspberry sundaes with hot fudge sauce for dinner because it was too hot to turn on the stove.
This was a time to rest.
To move slowly.
To breathe deeply.
To read a book or sit in the kiddie pool and just
Life has Dog Days of Summer.
Days where the heat from the relationships, emotions, or grief just cover us like a hot, wet, weighted wool blanket and we just can’t move a muscle without recognizing the pressure of our circumstance and pain.
I’ve been experiencing sadness over a situation lately and as much as I’ve wanted to push through and muscle up — which I normally can….
And as much as I’ve wanted to get back to my upbeat, anything-is-possible self…
The truth is that I just haven’t been me.
These are my Dog Days.
It’s been hot with emotion
And I’ve needed to rest.
We all get there in life. When something weighs on us and it feels like life is on top of us instead of us being on top of life. I wanted to share with you some of the things that have helped me and provided some rest in the midst of the pain:
- Reminding myself, “I know who I am.”
- Taking beach walks… my feet shuffling in the water as I paused to pick up sea glass or to look at the waves.
- Meditations that are about healing, with positive affirmations.
- Talking to my bestest of friends in my inner circle who know who I am.
- Saying, “F*** you” in my head to those who have been challenging.
- Saying, “I bless me… and okay, I bless you too…” to everyone involved.
- Reminding myself, “This too shall pass but until it does, it will give me a gift before it leaves.”
- Canceling appointments.
- Having drinks with girlfriends.
- Crying. A lot.
- Doing yoga that involved a lot of “right hand on the belly and left hand on the heart” with a deep breath and tears streaming down my face
- Followed immediately by Savasana
(it was a short, but cathartic practice)
- Being happy when I least expected it.
- Being mad when I least expected it.
- Telling my husband and kids, “You’re awesome and I didn’t hear a word you just said because I’m really in my head right now because of what happened so, can you NOT repeat it unless it’s an emergency and just give me a few minutes with my dairy-free, gluten-free ice cream and myself?
And tonight our family will be doing a fire ceremony because my friend Beth loves me and sent me “Flying Prayer Papers” (because you know, there’s a something for everything on Amazon.com) and we will write our sad thoughts onto purple paper and light them on fire so they can fly away into the sky.
That was it.
That’s how I rested.
It might sound like a lot but it was sort of my version of just “being.”
One of my girlfriends asked me, “What’s the silver lining in all of this?”
I answered, “That everything works together for my good because I choose it as it is. The silver lining isn’t outside of me in a perfect circumstance. The silver lining is in me and can be used for every circumstance. I am resilient and I am resourceful and I will make this pain valuable because that’s who I am and what I’m committed to. No matter what.”
Resting offered me a chance to recharge that strength.
I’m so glad that I didn’t rush or fill my schedule with distractions. I am so glad that I practiced the art of just being with the pain instead of trying to make it go away.
Because honestly, force doesn’t make the hard feelings go away anymore than force can make the hot, humid summer days in New Jersey go away.
It’s just what it is
And it too will pass
And before it leaves, it will give me the gift that is hiding inside.
Sending you love,
P.S. I’d love for you to read a really amazing chapter, “Don’t Waste the Pain” in my newest book “An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide” you can pick it up today and be encouraged for life. <3