Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June Bugs and June Brides

You might wonder where I’m going with bugs and brides. What could they possibly have in common? With June brides come the images of flowers and showers, preachers and parties and the meshing of new families. With June bugs come the sounds of head-buzzing and lampshade pelting, swooshing fly swatters and cats rocketing across the living room and smashing into patio doors.

I’m thinking of both as we glide past spring into summer. We’ve had two family weddings this month and seemingly more fat brown June bugs dancing around our light bulbs than all years past. Both brides and bugs have swept quickly past leaving a fluttering of invitations and, well, wings and legs. Perhaps it’s analogous that we’re also counting more blessings than ever in our lives.

Life doesn’t always follow our plans, but along the turns of the past year we’ve found ourselves growing richer in relationships as every page falls from the calendar. The hours of this month fly past with old friends getting back in contact, new acquaintances from the weddings filling our address book and the activities of summer crowding our schedules.

Even after all the years since graduating school and university, there is still something delicious about welcoming summer and its possibilities for fun: jumping in a pool to escape the heat, slipping into a chilly matinee on a bright afternoon, choosing just the right flavor of syrup on snow cones or nestling down with that great paperback in the middle of the afternoon. It’s all lightness that we create for ourselves. Life isn’t perfect, but there is a perfectly magnificent blue sky beckoning us outside to gaze upward.

With triple digit heat in Austin, it’s important to create some slow-down time outside to slurp on a juicy watermelon and feel the condensation dripping down your wrist from an icy beverage. We find that it works to write “Down Time” on the calendar and commit to it. I’m much less likely to bump it when it’s committed on the page.

I am however, much more likely to bump into the sticky fly paper strip my husband posted on our patio to catch the bugs before they slip through the sliding glass door. Who knew they still made this stuff? Twice now while watering the plants, the breeze has shifted and sent me flailing about during a facial assault. It’s far worse than a tangle in a silky spider web. When it’s on you, it marries you and leaves a nasty trail of goo all over your face, arms, hands and hair.

I refuse to let this ick replace my happy summer memory scents like Sea & Ski lotion and baby oil. These take me back to blissful teenage afternoons in a pink gingham bikini lying on a quilt in our back yard listening to Motown hits on the radio. The sweetness of watching the clouds drift past and wondering about the future still invigorate my love for this season.

What are you doing to create lightness in your life this year? Which are your sweetest memories of summers past? What are your tricks for beating the heat?

We welcome the newlyweds into our lives and outfit ourselves for the battle of the bugs, accepting the sweetness of new love with the stickiness of just living. We’re just not using the fly paper near the brides.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jockeying for First Place When the Old Grey Mare Just Ain’t What She Used to Be

The film “My Life in Ruins” opens this week, and as accurately as this seems to describe life some days, I compile yet another daunting To Do list and dash off like an Olympian to finish what I’ve started.

Thoughts of racing come easily just days away from the third leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont and the Austin Danskin Triathlon, and I’m betting that this old mare can accomplish as much as any three-year-old thoroughbred.

As the Belmont bets are placed and we wager whether jockey Calvin Borel will achieve a triple crown astride Mine That Bird, I think about what a triple threat the female drivers in the 2009 Indy 500 were. Milka Duno, Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick are fascinating to follow. All three qualified, competed and finished the race this year – which resonates as I tackle my objectives.

At the speedways, the pit crew can make or break a driver’s success. In the flat racing game, the jockey can guide a horse to a win or a loss. If we serve as our own pit crews and jockeys, how are we guiding the success of our goals? Are we whipping the tar out of our hinies or focusing our energies in unison to change out the tires and fuel up? Who’s spotting for us as we navigate the track? Are we working for or against ourselves in achieving our goals?

I’m trying to sweep the track of habits that undermine my efforts, such as staying up too late and not getting enough rest. Now, if they held an Indy 500 Napping race, I could take the trophy for sleeping 500 minutes. While I’ve been training for the Danskin, I’ve added a phone alarm that says “go to bed” as a prompt to shut it down for the day and not work into the wee hours. A full night’s rest is invaluable in how you recharge and embrace the next day. It keeps you from falling asleep at the wheel of your life.

The point of my ever overflowing To Do list and all the goal setting, task tackling and exercising is to make the old grey mare better than she used to be so she can win her races with skill and grace– and not be set out to pasture just yet. There’s still a lot of hoofing around I want to do, and I’m grateful for my family and friends who keep me moving and motivated. As I run for the roses, they all deserve bouquets for their love and support. Thanks to their faith, I’m not like I used to be – I’m better.

What’s on your To Do list? Are you including time for healthy essentials? Are you appreciating your pit crew?

One item on my list is to attend a movie this weekend. For anyone who says that women’s cinema doesn’t make money, I hope that they are proven wrong with the opening box office returns on “My Life in Ruins.” I’m putting my money where their mouth is and buying a ticket. Won’t you join me?