what’s eight weeks?

I have said it before and I am sure I will state it again:

I could never live anywhere that did not have the four seasons.

I am too restless for a mere two.

Summer in the Northeast is pretty much ten weeks.

Ten weeks of guaranteed heat, of no hectic school schedule.

That is what summer is for me: not feeling cold, not having school.

That first week school is out and the one prior to it revving back up again; don’t count.

Bumping up next to school demands sullies it.

So that leaves eight weeks.

Eight weeks as wide and welcome as blue skies over a waving meadow.

I have the added blessing of working for a public school so that means no work schedule as well.  I am a substitute teacher so it also means no pay.  We just call hot dogs and watermelon diner about twice a week and drink less wine to cope.

To help pay for our beach vacation we took the day after school was let out I worked nearly full time in June.  To many, that is like saying: I got out of bed in the morning in June.  So what?  But with four daughters still at home, a home I have to keep in order or I turn into captain scary crazy pants, I only allow myself to work part time since going back to work.

Ergo: working everyday all during the week drained the life force out of me.  And of course, keeping in how this world always works, this June had several extra stressers thrown in.  My continual motion, my ceaseless brain trying to organize, my seized-up then sputtered out Adrenalin glands, were all functionally poorly by the end.

Our vacation of four days in Maryland was very much needed, but I still had residual out-of-wack inner man issues.  I felt horrible for my struggling to relax and enjoy when everyone else was.  I should naturally too. The accusation of:

“There are billions of people right now who could not even fathom what a vacation is, much less have the luxury of escaping a beautiful home to travel to another beautiful place to stay”.

This is absolutely true of course.

However, my personal guilt over the validity of this, was very misplaced. It did not have to do, in reality, with the turmoil I was feeling.  I will have to tackle my privileged Western guilt for another day, I suppose.

So we returned. The unpacking and the buying of groceries done. I had those eight weeks staring me in the face.  I will be honest: I still had this invisible stifling pressure bearing down on me, like a swimmer going deeper and deeper down in the water.

I knew I needed a game plan of how to handle NOT having a game plan, if that makes sense.

This is what I concluded would be the most beneficial way for me to deal with eight weeks of warm freedom:

*Wake early to write every morning after coffee outside with chickens and the dog

* Work in the garden every evening after dinner and daughters are organized to do their dinner duty

* Spend that time between my am and pm bookends of writing and gardening maintaining the house, keeping animals alive, raising daughters, maintaining a relationship with the husband, keeping up with others in my life via texting and prompt text reply, emailing, and actual face-to-face interaction, usually over food and alcohol.

* A few times a week volunteer at the local library

* Allow myself to see how I can serve at church

 

That is pretty much it.

My writing/gardening is strictly weekdays.

My in between writing/gardening that allows home maintenance feels like a luxury of unprecedented time, that calms me more than I can say.

My volunteer times are at set times and days, otherwise the pressing, draining need that are the nature of volunteer organizations will drain a person until they burn out.

This leaves ample room to allow my relationships with others to expand, unfurl, send out runners, like cucumbers in July.

Not to say I only keep up relationships in the summer, that would be odd. But it is undeniable that it is easier and therefore more pleasant in the summer. It repairs the damaged widening riff of my winter silence.

Without breathing room for relationships human existence gets dwarfed, sometimes to the point of blight-ridden and shriveled so much so he or she no longer even looks like their real selves.  For the believer in Christ, this is especially damaging as the spiritual relationship with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, is the springboard in which all our other relationships stay healthy, life-giving, bear good fruit.

Really, isn’t that what we all love about Summer so much?

It is the season of good fruit.

I’m no artist, but I love painting outside signs for my garden.

The fact that they soon get covered in nature and will be completely rotten in a few years, takes the pressure off to make it look like something I bought; lets me not be bothered by the fact it looks like something an elementary student did.

Cheers.

 

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five minute friday: VIEW

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We have recently returned from the beach.

And o my, don’t I just love the view of long white sandy beaches curving around the foamy edge of the ocean.

I stare and stare at the stretch of choppy blue grey Atlantic.

Open.

Wide.

Infinite.

But vacations, by definition, are short time outs from reality.

Slow, wide, soothing strokes- to our minds and body and schedules.

Back home.

No uncomplicated vistas to loose yourself in sleepy thought.

Reality looms up large instead.

The reality of my life has been:

uncomfortable

I am uncomfortable because I keep seeking that perfect niche of contentment, purpose, understanding, and peace- all at once- delivered on my daily plate of life- with a cheery on top please.

But that  is not life.

And that is OK. Its not designed to be a perpetual vacation.

Life is not a beach.

This morning sitting yoga cross legged, coffee in my hands and prayers on my lips I see only a hazy path-

slithering to and fro, in and out of focus like a faint foot trail shrouded in some pockets of mist.

We, “the anointed, the royal priesthood, the peculiar people”  {Isaiah}

navigate the tricky foot path of:

“in the world , not of it”.

For weeks I have felt the intense stirrings that outside our door stretches out two obvious roads:

The World in all its corruption

Religion in all its corruption

Both views stink.

Between the two:

the faint foot path.

The Spirit has been coaxing us down it for awhile now.

He led us to a church that quite frankly does not have much going for it presently, yet we stay.

He tells us to wait…again!…and not leave NY. So we stay.

I took a second job as cleaning lady for some businesses in the evenings (yeah I said I would NEVER be a cleaner).

So I clean after dinner and return home in time for bedtime books and routines. An awesome arrangement that allows me to be home and present for my family and is a huge financial blessing.  But again, not how I want to spend 5 evenings a week. Not comfortable.

And now,  after over 11 years of young children at home, under my feet, demanding in my face, making messes and noise, The Babe is heading off to all day pre-K in the fall {she will be five in December}.

Taking the cleaning job freed me from the obligatory “day care provider” chain and ball, and of baby am I looking forward to those 6 hours of quiet days!

But, where oh where, is the view on that hazy path opening up to?

Home schooling my big girls.

{yeah i said i would NEVER home school}.

I am going to stop using the word never.

Much prayers would be appreciated.

Literally yesterday,  I started to entertain the idea. And this Summer we will be exploring and seeking and praying, a lot.

This hazy, uncomfortable path, this view that takes faith, that on the outside seems like such foolishness, like some twisted form of self-punishment, honestly leaves me frustrated from time to time.

In those spaces of frustration doubt always clamors loud.

I wonder:

Is it just me?

Do I just like the hard?

Always insisting on being different,

doing it just a little better than the majority

because of my perfectionists tendencies, my own vanity that I am somehow above the status quo,

like some kinda spiritual hipster?

And yet…

Inwardly, these last few years have filled me up with more joy and peace and quiet strength, overall, more than I have ever possessed.

The simple path of daily faith and obedience.

I hear the words of Saint Paul:

“though outwardly we perish, inwardly we are renewed day by day”

I am trying to stay committed to:

my eyes drinking in the next step that The Father leads by His very own hand being all the view I need.

Stop.

Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s blog for another writing prompt.

A writing prompt that almost always blesses me in amazing ways.

Happy start to the Memorial Weekend everyone!

Cheers.

Colorful Cape May

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Pallets of colors:

Painted in a spectrum of colors on houses

Patterned on fences

Highlighted on eaves and lattice

Punched on porches

Dappled on store fronts

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Long empty beaches speckled with only a few vacationers also has its share of color.

Here and there among the warm sand and breaking s

urf  the unexpected colors of:

  pink star-topped umbrellas

smooth orange rocks gathered in my scarf

 russet colored oak leaves and green sea glass

and stained rimmed sea posts in iridescent green.


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Being in Cape May equals:

never attempting to even pick up the room we are staying in

reading on the beach

collecting stones and shells {every year I chose a color  to scan for as we walk the beach…this year's model was orange in honor of October}

finding new cafes and restaurants to spend way to much money and have leisurely conversations at


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After a cloudy cool Saturday the setting sun streaked out of dark stubborn clouds that kept us in jeans and long sleeves all day as we shopped and ate like tourists, Mr.MS says:

"For one day a year we have a pocketful of cash to spend on ourselves…then tomorrow comes"

I felt like I was receiving a gift from the sky as we picked our way, shoe-less, toward the shore and the poking sun rays turned into a glorious sunset.  I have never seen orange turn to red turn to pink turn to dark purple turn to gray-blue so quickly, so beautiful.

Everyone on the beach and promenade turned photographer.


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"i love this guy"


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AND

 "why in the sam hell did no one tell me i had that many laugh lines"

 

Heres to marriage time outs

spending way too much money on eating out and alcohol

and sand in the toes


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Cheers