This summer I became a summer person. I’ve always thought of myself as a fall person, but 2020 has turned everything upside-down, and I’m no longer who I was before. Hell, I’m not even who I was last week, which was technically a lifetime ago. Now I’m a summer person.
We spent a lot of time at my parents’ home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where we went to the beach almost every day. To be clear: beaching with a toddler is a different kind of relaxing. But even after the mayhem of slathering suntan lotion onto a two year old, playing in the sand, wrangling my beach babe out of her wet bathing suit and sandy diaper, scrambling back to the car with our chairs/buckets/shovels/towels, I’d find myself back at the house, blissed out in the kitchen cooking dinner in my bikini. Happily exhausted and slightly buzzed on sunshine and salt air, I felt open.
While we were still very much in the throes of life and work, it was so nice to have a change of scenery and a change of pace. I was less interested in forcing or pushing, and more content to just let the moment be what it was. Life seemed to move through me. Back home, I’m trying my best to hang onto that feeling but it’s harder to go with the flow. The flow is so intense and relentless, and it makes me want to harden and shut down. I feel myself sliding back into the comfort of the perfectionist/controlling/anxious ways in which I experience myself, and I don’t like it.
It’s clear to me that my patterns are not helping me navigate the emotional highs and lows of life. I waste a lot of energy swimming upstream, and the truth is I can no longer afford to spend even one more ounce of effort on things that don’t matter. None of us can.
And so I’ve begun a practice of asking myself, “How can I carry the spirit of summer into my life?” In these challenging times, this line of thinking feels on the one hand irrelevant and irresponsible, and on the other essential and necessary. I want to focus on going with the flow so that I can conserve my energy for the work that actually needs to be done.
To me, going with the flow means to really go there—to be vulnerable with my feelings and allow them the space to be felt. This isn’t easy nowadays, when the highs feel so sacred and the lows feel so devastatingly low. What I’ve noticed—again, for the umpteen-millionth time—is how important discipline and boundaries are to feeling ease, joy, and freedom in my everyday life. Structure and practice create a stable container in which I can metabolize my emotions and process my experience.
I want to leave you with a quote by Mariame Kaba that spoke to me. “Hope is a discipline.” The wave ushering us into fall may be one of fear and uncertainty, but we can meet the demands of our personal and collective responsibilities by getting really clear on how to best use our energy. My hope for us all as we shift into this new season is to go with—to be with—the flow, so that we can focus on what matters most.