Reframing the Shades
Many are gearing up for summer fun, vacations, and a 'break' from the norm after this Memorial Day weekend - the unofficial start of summer in the US. Summertime traditionally has not been a season for me to take a break. It's actually when I've worked the hardest.
In high school, I tutored middle school students and oversaw a summer program for toddlers with a non-profit my mentor ran. In college, I had an internship every summer working 8 AM to 5 PM in an office setting. After graduating from college, I did take two months 'off' to spend time with family in NC before making the move to the big city, Washington, DC. But even then, I worked a few hours a day to save up money for my move. And in my professional career, I've traveled a lot during the summer months, spending long hours on the road to execute special events and perform internal audits.
I recently realized that I associate summer with work, not play. Can you relate? And even though enjoyable activities are sprinkled throughout, work is often the driving force of my schedule. As Come & Stay progresses, even traveling to church conferences is starting to feel more like 'work' to me. At times, I can be so focused on the task at hand that I lose sight of the goodness in the moment.
By mixing some new adventures with tried and true things from the past, I can enjoy the freedom God gives me to write a new story.
Extend business travels when possible
With having to travel over the summer months for business, it's easy to feel disconnected and out of sorts with your routine. Working long hours makes it even more challenging to truly enjoy the time you're off the clock. For this reason, I attempt to extend my business travels into the weekend whenever possible.
During my last major business trip a few years ago to St. Louis, Missouri, I was able to stay over the weekend. It was awesome connecting with the disciples there and exploring the city together. Lucky for me, when I returned to St. Louis the following year for the Reach Conference, I didn't struggle with FOMO! Although I had a lot of work to do with Come & Stay at Reach, the sites my friends were visting during the conference were already checked off of my bucket list from the year prior.
Whenever you're able to extend the front end or tail end of a business trip for leisure and adventure, I encourage you to do it!
Change the routine
A visit back home to see my family is typical for me over the summer months. It's always great to go home, but even that can seem mundane. This year to break up the monotony, I took my mom on a road trip to Asheville, NC for a few days. It's one of those places I'd traveled through as a kid, but never spent measurable time visiting. We had the opportunity to tour the Biltmore Estate, the largest private residence in the US (imagine hosting in that)! And, we were able to reconnect with each other and God, enjoying the beauty that surrounded us through nature. I was grateful for the shift in routine that led to creating a beautiful memory with my mom.
Invite others to visit and become a tourist in your own city
I am absolutely elated when friends and family come visit me! Not only do I love to take care of them, but it's also a great bonding time when I get to share my life with them in real time. I also enjoy being a tourist in my own city. Gems can be discovered when one starts to dig for ideas to keep their guests entertained. Honestly, I notice a lack of joy in the summer when I don't have an opportunity to host friends or family in my home. And for this reason, I make a deliberate effort to plan ahead for others to come and stay with me during this time.
Capture some fun from childhood days
Recently, I've been examining the days of my childhood before work dominated my summers! As a kid, I vividly remember music and dancing being a big part of my summers. I wanted to be a choreographer when I grew up, so I took gymnastics for a while, cheered for my school's football team, and made up dance routines with my cousins to perform at family reunions. It's crazy that I don't even listen to music much anymore. Having this awareness now, I'm carving out time in my life to become like that child again (Matthew 18:3). Free in spirit, uninhibited even. I will change the narrative and connect to the essence of my being through various creative outlets. If you're in Austin and wanna dance, hit me up!
By reframing my sunshades and focusing on what's true, I choose to make this summer joyful, fun and memorable (Philippians 4:7-9)!
What about you? How do you plan to experience joy in the new season? What memories can you create with family? What connections can you make with friends, new and old?