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?