Monday, August 22, 2011

What I Learned Over Summer Vacation: The Meaning Of Life

Summer is almost over. I managed to pack in three vacations, a visit with Mom, a nervous break-down, cleaned the garage, read some fun books, and got a bumper crop of pumpkins. You're probably wondering how the whole mid-life crisis thing is going. Well, it's going pretty well as a matter of fact. I finally figured out the meaning of life, which has two parts.

1. Live In The Moment.

2. Get A Williams-Sonoma Panini-Maker.

I know this sounds odd, but bear with me. Let's start with #1. Initially, I was convinced that the answer to my mid-life crisis was something huge and monumental. I needed to go to Alaska and see a glacier. I needed a vintage Porsche sports-car with racing stripes. I wanted to move to Hawaii and live in a grass hut on the beach. I was mulling over these options on the day I decided to take my daughter to an organic farm to pick flowers. It was a sunny and gorgeous New England summer day. Breezy and light. And my daughter and her friend ran around a field of luscious flowers, laughing and singing and dancing with the butterflies. (See post for photos).

I stood watching them, and I found that I had tears streaming down my face. I realized something profound. I didn't need to go to the Great Wall Of China, or see a volcano in Hawaii, or buy an over-priced sports car to feel better. I just needed to focus on the small things. Really focus. Instead of thinking about my to-do list for the day, or the fact that my car registration was expired, or that I had a mound of laundry to fold on my bed.

Live in the moment. Enjoy the breeze and the sunshine. Go pick flowers with my daughter. And not rush her. Not rush us. Enjoy that simple moment because that's what life really is. Not the big moments, which are wonderful and exciting, and definitely have their place in our lives. But more importantly, the small moments we have each and every day. The ones we miss because we are too busy picking up the dry-cleaning. Most of our lives are the small moments. And taking the time to enjoy them, savor them, appreciate them, is a gift we should embrace.

After making that profound observation, I decided to put my new attitude into action. When my daughter asked me to stop at the pet store on the way home from camp--for absolutely no good reason--instead of automatically saying "No...sorry honey I have to get home to cook dinner," I said...."Yes." She was delighted. We meandered around the pet store, visiting with the turtles and puppies and finches and frogs. That night we had pizza for dinner.

When my husband said "Let's go to Newport for the day" I didn't answer "No, I have too many chores, and what about the dog, and the drive is too long" instead we jumped in the car and drove to the beach and had a blast with the kids and the neighbors were happy to walk our dog. I was being spontaneous. This was something new and different and sort of scary.

When I complained about my hideous commute into Boston this summer, while driving my son to his camp, my husband said "Try to enjoy it." Enjoy it? So with both kids in the car, fighting traffic on Huntington Avenue, we played the license plate game. And people-watched. And picked out our dream cars. And God Christ Almighty, I actually did like it.

And after I signed up Natty for soccer and skating, and Cristian for swimming, I decided I wanted to take a class, too. So I'm taking stained glass window design, and a glass-blowing workshop this fall. Me. Taking a class for fun. And Natty and I are taking a cooking class together....Dessert Party. Hee hee.

Which brings me to Part #2 of The Meaning Of Life. The Williams-Sonoma Panini Maker. If I'm living in the moment, and making chocolate brownies with Natty, how am I supposed to cook dinner and do the laundry and take care of all of the mundane details of life that suck the joy out of my day and crush me under a to-do list from hell? Well, I decided I have one hour a day to do that shit. One hour. That's it. Pay bills, make the beds. Whatever. After that, if I want to take a yoga class or write a romance novel, or play with the weenie dog, then that's what I'm going to do.

And the undisputed answer to this dilemma is the Williams-Sonoma Panini Maker! I shit you not! It's the greatest invention of all time. I can make dinner for the whole family in five minutes. I can make breakfast sammies, lunch for the kids and neighbors and a quick dinner before swim practice. Veggie sammies with grilled vegetables and fresh basil from the garden and yummy melted cheese. Plain old grilled cheese for the kids. Carnivorous stuff for the hubs. I use that damned appliance every single day and it rocks. Anything that saves me time and still provides a nutritious meal for the family frees me up to do fun stuff. And it's all guilt-free.

So, that's what I learned over summer vacation. How about you?



Unknown said...

I love your post today. Truly inspiring. You're so right, everyone should live in the moment and enjoy life. :)

Penny Watson said...

Thanks, Amber! I guess it's good I finally figured that out at 45 years old. Hee hee!

Tales of Whimsy said...

What a brilliant post.
I love it.
So so so true.
Thanks for sharing your lesson and making me smile.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Juju! I hope you had a good summer, too. :^)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Oh, how beautiful. I'm crying, girl. I learned long ago to treasure each and every moment, good and bad, because that one moment is all you get - it will never come around again.

I don't care if the dog chews up a magazine - I don't care if my kid leaves her room a mess - because what if she wasn't around to leave her room a mess?
I'm with you, Penny. My housekeeping suffers, but who gives a shit? Not me!
A sandwich for supper? Full of veggies and healthy stuff? Hell yeah! Just because a meal is quick doesn't mean it has to be bad for you!
You are the best!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julia! I think you have the best attitude about things. I love that you hike every day with your dog. You know how to keep your priorities straight and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. :^)

Barn Weddings said...

Great work! I enjoy your post. Now I realize that we must really enjoy life to the fullest. Thanks for reminding. :D

Steph from said...

Hey Penny & Julia - Now I feel ok about the incredible mess in my office and pretty much all non-public areas of my house. I have realized things I don't live every day. One was on 9/11 I realized that petty shit is petty shit. But, sadly or not, as a human I still have an ego so don't always carry that at the fore of my tiny mind. ALso, life is short be nice. Usually make that unless people mess with me or my mom is visiting. Hey Penny - I am older than you are so you should feel young.

Penny Watson said...

Barn Weddings...thanks for stopping by! :^)

Steph....Some days I feel young, some days I feel old and decrepid. Gotta work on that! Hee hee!