Far From Extreme

couponsI have a great deal of respect for you RW’s out there who have mastered the art of couponing. There are plenty of you who know how to truly get good deals and save money for your families on products you use on a regular basis. Bravo, I am impressed.

I am bad at couponing. Not completely useless, but nearly. I only have myself to blame. I don’t put the time and energy into searching out the best deals or cultivating the best coupons.   I have no great system. I collect a variety of coupons simply because they have come to me directly, with little effort on my part. Of these small stacks of coupons that I gather, only an even smaller fraction of them actually get used. I have my reasons…. admittedly, most are not really good reasons, and my lack of participation varies depending on the type of coupon.

Grocery Store Coupons:

  1. The majority of these that I collect are from the newspaper and those that are handed to me at the check-out counter. There are times that so many get spit out after my transaction that I wonder if I could use them for wallpaper. Clearly a sign that not only do I spend far too much time and money in the grocery store, but… they’ve been watching me. The system cranks out coupons based on my buying habits and products I frequent. Scary.
  2. I then pile the coupons in a messy little stack in the desk organizer on my kitchen counter. If I remember, I will flip through them before I head to the store – and if any look appropriate, or haven’t expired, I may actually remember to bring them with me. I see successful couponers traveling the aisles with their very own filing system in hand, just like my mom did. Not me… the handful I might bring with me end up in a waded up pile in my purse or pocket, or tucked under the lettuce in the top of my grocery cart. I hope the file-system people don’t notice. They would be appalled.
  3. The majority of the time, I find a different brand, or store brand, that is still less expensive than the brand for which I have a coupon. OR, I realize that I have to buy 6 of something to get $1 off. Who needs 6? OR, the exact product variety or size stated on the coupon is not in stock at the store. So back to the pocket those coupons go.
  4. By the time I work my way up to the cashier, I have just one or two coupons that I can actually use. Which, of course, can be rather embarrassing, given the quantity of groceries I am purchasing. So I end up trying to make a joke with the cashier, like “gee that $ .75 sure is going to make a dent on this bill!”.   Usually they are not amused.

Retail Shop Coupons:

  1. These I generally acquire through the mail. At one point in my life I did a lot of catalog shopping, and those retailers have never forgotten about me. Similarly, I have rewards cards for the shops I frequent. Each of these retailers like to send me love notes, or catalogs, both accompanied by promises of percentages off if I would be so kind to visit them again.
  2. Of course, these same retailers send me e-love notes. Lots of them. My personal email account is filled every day with offers to “stock up now”, “order today to get an additional 20% off”, or “buy one, get one half off.” The majority of these e-love notes get deleted. I just don’t have the time or interest to wade through them. Again, if I put the effort in, I’m sure the rewards would be lovely.
  3. So my gift cards and coupons from retail shops get stacked together in yet another spot of my kitchen counter, under my car keys. My logic of course there is that before I head out to do some shopping, I’ll browse through the stack. I used to carry all of these coupons and offers with me – but they only succeeded in making my purse fat and getting in the way. In reality, when I stop to sort through the stack, I end up disposing of at least half of them because they’ve expired before I’ve gotten a chance to use them.

Receipt Coupons:

  1. These are the coupons that are printed out at the bottom of receipts from certain stores, to be used during your next visit. CVS is the king of this.   Every time I shop at CVS and use my rewards card, I get coupons and offers in return. Even better, some times I get dollars off anything at my next visit.
  2. For some reason, I’ve decided the best place to store these coupons is crammed into the back of my checkbook. I guess this is because I go to the drug store, or craft store, or wherever else I get these receipt coupons, so often that I may as well keep them with me.
  3. I seem to do pretty well with these coupons. Well, that is, when I remember to look for them before cashing out. And if they aren’t all expired due to lack of attention.

I recently, rather by accident, caught part of an episode of “Extreme Couponing” on TV. I was in shock.   These people seem to devote their lives to the whole process. And what I really don’t understand is the quantity of goods they store in their homes because of the great deals they get. Does anyone REALLY need a 5-year supply of toothpaste?   I could never in my wildest dreams be that fanatical. Besides, I basically hate grocery shopping, so anything that requires me putting in MORE time there is out. And so, I limp along, really not being terribly successful in achieving great deals or savings.

Maybe some day I’ll find the time to get better at it. I could at least perhaps be one of those RW’s who will stop at 3 different stores to get the best deals, or who has alphabetized coupons in a cute folder, or goes beyond the newspaper and mailbox to obtain coupons. Maybe.

Tonight I used 5 whole coupons at the grocery store, and saved $6 off my nearly $300 bill. That just may be my new personal best. There could be hope for me yet.



Professional Perspective

vanna2“Its not the most intellectual job in the world, but I do have to know my letters.” – Vanna White

During a recent meeting, one of my Real Women co-workers was doing a fine job of demonstrating a product to some customers, so I called her Vanna. We laughed and talked about how we both have watched Vanna White through the years, and we both agreed that some days, we’d like to be in her shoes.

I remember even as a teenager, when Vanna was just joining Wheel of Fortune, I thought I’d like to have her job. All she had to do was dress in fancy gowns, do a lot of clapping, and turn some letters. Seemed like a pretty sweet gig.

We encourage young women today to go into any field of study – to aim high, that they can do anything they want to do. They can be lawyers, doctors, scientists, professional athletes, CEO’s – anything. We strive to be good role models, and thankfully there are strong examples of successful, talented, professional women in real life, in the news, and on TV for girls to emulate.

When I was a young girl, I had plenty of resilient, beautiful and intelligent women in my life. However, women in strong careers and professions were sparse. Those who did work outside the home were usually in classically “female” roles – teachers, nurses, and secretaries. All hard working, talented Real Women and good role models, certainly…but in those days we didn’t have many examples of what else we could do with our professional futures.

TV and movies didn’t help much. There were waitresses (Cheers and Alice), receptionists or assistants (WKRP and Mary Tyler Moore), or loveable moms and housekeepers (Happy Days and The Brady Bunch).   Not really what we’d think of as career women (ok, Mary Tyler Moore was pretty close).  As a matter of fact, women in traditionally male roles were so eye-opening that in the mid-80’s, there was an entire sitcom based on the role reversal of a female Ad Executive and her – gasp! — male housekeeper (how can we ever forget that loveable yet goofy Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss?).   On the big screen, women were cast as fighting their way into male-dominated work places – again, generally playing the part of secretaries (9 to 5 and Working Girl). Even if a role showed a woman doing a “man’s job”, there was a counter-balance – hence why Flashdance’s female welder by trade was actually a struggling dancer in disguise.

Regardless of these “role models”, we women of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s found our ways into career paths that were not generally based on the stereotypes in the media, and with time became not only accepted but respected in all areas of business and industry.   It hasn’t always been smooth, but we’ve worked hard to get to where we are.

Ironically enough, after years of working our ways through all the catch phrases: climbing the corporate ladder, breaking through the glass ceiling, interrupting the old boys’ network, I think many of us have grown tired. All that climbing, breaking, interrupting, and proving ourselves has been exhausting…and some of us have maybe decided it just wasn’t worth that much sustained effort.  After a certain age, I see more and more women looking to make a change, cutting back on the craziness… maybe going to part-time work, going back to school, giving up the corporate world for volunteer work or home businesses…. In general, simplifying and finding roles that bring less stress, more peace, more enjoyment, and more fulfillment.

And so perhaps, all along, Vanna had it just about right. She still gets to wear beautiful clothes, and over time her job has gotten even easier – rather than turn a letter, all she has to do is push a button. Oh, and still clap a lot (she must have amazingly calloused palms) and occasionally pose next to a grand prize like a car or beach resort.   When I did a bit of research, I was surprised to see that Vanna is only eight years older than me. Yet while I have worked for at least five different companies or industries throughout my career, she has had the same job for 32 years. Smiling and clapping literally all the way to the bank. So yes, on some of the busy, tiring, I’ve-had-enough kind of days, I’ll admit it – I’m a bit jealous of her. Who’s laughing now, eh Vanna?



If You Give A…..

Moose muffin

Yesterday I said to my husband “I’m have a Moose a Muffin day.”  He said “you’re what??” After explaining what I meant, I thought it may be appropriate to re-post this item I first posted in the spring of last year.  I’m sure many of you R.W.’s can still relate.  Then go enjoy a muffin. 

Anyone with a child in their life is familiar with the “If You Give A Moose A Muffin” book series.  While children find them funny, Real Women can oddly identify with these stories’ themes.  As a matter of fact, we live very similar lives as the moose, the mouse, and the pig.

To illustrate this point, I humbly present my version:  If You Give a Real Woman A Saturday:


laundryladyIf you give a Real Woman a Saturday

She’ll want to fit far too many activities into it.


So she’ll get out paper and a pen to make a To Do list.

When she’s done making her list

She will want to make some changes.


When she’s done making her changes,

She will choose one activity to start

like putting clothes away.

She will head to the bedroom.

While there, she will notice the bed sheets need to be changed.

And her drawers need to be reorganized.


While reorganizing her drawers, she will start taking out clothes

for goodwill or for a seasonal change.

Then she’ll need new storage bins and trash bags.

She will need to start a shopping list.


While searching for a piece of paper and pen,

She will walk past the bathroom, and will notice it is dirty.

So she’ll stop looking for the paper, put down her clothes, and she’ll start cleaning.

Then she’ll realize she needs more paper towels and spray cleaner.

She will need to add those items to her list.


During the cleaning, she will be interrupted by a child

Who needs a snack

Or a ride

Or help fixing something

Or is just bored.


After helping the child, the RW will go back to cleaning.

But on the way, she’ll notice her house plants are dry.

So she’ll need to get the watering can.

While filling up the watering can, she will look outside.

And she’ll realize she should take the dog for a walk.


While walking the dog, the RW will think about

Her To Do List.

And her Shopping List.

She will attempt mental tricks to remember the items

For her shopping list

Because she never found paper to write them down.

Then she will begin to recalculate her day.


After walking the dog, the RW will run into her husband

Who has a question

Or needs a snack

Or help fixing something

Or is just bored.


The RW will then get in the car to run errands.

Including buying the items she discovered she needed

And the things the child and husband have requested.

She will come back home later

And realize she forgot something.


She will then need to start the laundry

Or dinner

Or return a call

Or ….


At the end of the day, she will head to the bedroom.

And the RW will find the clothes that still need to be put away.

She will look at the clock and gauge how much her back hurts.

She will then stack the clothes next to the bureau.

And will go look for her To Do List.


And instead of crossing things off

She will add more on.

And wish she had another Saturday.




The Lost Art of Savoring

Turkey napkinsAhh, the sunny days of August…. Time to enjoy the warmth, sit by the beach or the pool, fit in one more summer family get-away, do some back-to-school shopping, go on a hike or bike ride, and plan your Thanksgiving dinner…. Wait, what?!

One of the Real Women in my life texted me this photo from the grocery store THREE WEEKS AGO – which was the beginning of August. Yes, that is a display of Thanksgiving-themed napkins. She included just one word in the text: “Really??”   I find it appropriate that the turkeys are tilted and upside down, because that’s how they made me feel.

It is easy to blame the Retail world for pushing us into holidays and seasons well before our time. After all, we know we’ll be seeing snowmen and Christmas trees mixed in with the witches and pumpkins on store shelves in October. And it all feels just a bit…. well, ridiculous.   But are the merchants all to blame?

I remember a few years ago I was hosting a birthday pool party for my son, and had planned a couple of backyard games and activities to add in to the fun. Immediately upon finishing the first activity, a couple of the kids started asking me “What’s next? What are we doing now? Are we going to play another game? What do we do next?” I was frustrated and wanted to respond “can’t you just go and play and relax and enjoy being with each other?”   And I thought for a long while about how kids these days are far too anxious, too programmed, that they are always too eager to know “what’s next.”

But since that day, I’ve started to believe that we adults are to blame for this. After all, we lead by example, right? We seem to have become a nation of “what’s next”.   As soon as we have completed an activity, it is like we make a big check mark next to it and move on without a backward glance. We are always planning and preparing for the next thing – the sooner the better.  This is why we see back-to-school supplies in the stores in July. And why as soon as the kids are in class, we say summer is over, and feel pressured to get their Halloween costume planned. Just the other day one of my BFFs and I were talking about holiday plans this year. Do I need to mention again that it is August??

We Real Women spend enough time worrying and thinking and planning and second-guessing….do we really need to add on the additional stress of worrying about something that is still four months down the road?

Now, please understand, I realize I am being a hypocrite – because as soon as we celebrate the New Year, I’m looking forward to spring. I don’t mind in the slightest if the Retail shops start putting out Easter and Spring décor as early as the beginning of February, and I’m anxiously out buying cut flowers to put in vases in my house and doing my spring cleaning… But that is just because of my feelings about winter…. I’ve heard there are folks out there who love snow and cold and winter sports, who want that season to last a good long time. (I don’t understand them, but hey, it takes all types to make the world go ‘round.)

With all this time spent looking forward, I fear that we have lost the art of savoring the moment. Are we spending so much time in the worry-and-plan mode that we are ignoring the day that currently exists?   Yesterday, my husband was looking for me; I had just finished some gardening, and he found me next to the pool, my feet in the water, the rest of me just laying there, still in my dirty garden clothes. He made a gentle inquiry which I think was something like “um, what’s up?” I told him that I was savoring the moment. Because that feeling, of warm sun on my skin, a nice fresh-air breeze blowing over me, my toes wiggling in the cool water – that exact feeling is what I’ll miss the most during our winter months. And I just needed a few minutes to stop and savor it before it was gone.   Like so many other R.W.’s, I had spent much of the day running around trying to be productive, my head constantly thinking about the “next thing” on my to do list, and I decided I needed to stop, even if briefly.

Ironically there is a flip side to our population, one that includes a whole lot of procrastinators. Filing taxes is usually an annual last-minute rush activity; we put off going to the doctor for regular check ups, and we spend a whole lot of time running up against deadlines both at work and at home due to poor planning. All you have to do is glance into a mall on December 24th to see that not everyone of us plans ahead.  I laugh every year when my husband tells me that Christmas “snuck up on him.” Really, did you not see the Frosty sitting next to the Jack-o-Lantern in Costo 12 weeks ago?

There must be some sort of happy medium that we can all find. Some pleasant world of peace and tranquility that lives between “worrying and planning three months ahead of time” vs. “stressed chaos and last-minute rushing. “ Perhaps we can take small steps towards finding that sweet spot by once a day, slowing down long enough to just BE. Draw deep breaths, and really notice where we are at that moment. Feel it. Appreciate it. I am quite certain this will take a lot of practice – we Real Women are really bad at shutting our brains off, even if it is just for a few minutes.

So I have come up with a plan….and I ask you to join me. Mostly because I’ll need the peer pressure to make this a success.   The next time we ask ourselves “what’s next?”  let’s force ourselves to stop, breathe and answer: “savor.”




Stop the Frump

warnersfrump  (frmp) – n

  1. A girl or woman regarded as dull, plain, or unfashionable.
  2. A person regarded as colorless and primly sedate.

One of my BFFs and I are just a few months away from a milestone birthday. Even though we are both thankful to be alive and healthy, we are admittedly depressed about reaching this particular milestone so soon. We’d be much rather that it be farther out on the horizon – by a few years at least.

But alas, we can not control time, and so we must face the inevitable. She and I got together the other evening, and over drinks and half-priced apps, we got caught up on work and family…. then moved into our session of commiseration. We both admitted to each other that as the past year or so has progressed, we have begun to feel kind of blah, kind of boring – basically, we feel frumpy. We analyzed this together, and came up with two causes of this frumpiness. One is due to our current activities and life experiences. The other, (naturally because we are real women) is our own opinion of our bodies and style.

We decided that what we needed was to start our own Campaign: Stop the Frump. In the coming months, we will come up with ideas to move away from our own frumpiness and begin to feel excited and better about ourselves like we did when we were….well, younger.   We started with brainstorming non-frump activities. Within minutes, my girlfriend had one in mind, and with steely determination and yearning in her eyes, she proclaimed that we need to go see a concert.   Not a reunion concert of old rockers who are still trying to reach the high notes after 40 years, and not a concert of an ABBA Tribute Band. No, she said, a real concert, of modern, contemporary music. Maybe Maroon5, or Neon Trees…. We would purposefully shop for funky trendy outfits to wear, and we’d feel hip and decidedly non-frumpy. Bravo, great idea. This goal went on the Campaign must-do list. We immediately reached out to another BFF to invite her to join the Campaign, and as expected, she was all for it.

Today our new Campaign member texted me to say that she was once again doing her usual Real Woman weekend errands, making the circuit of Target and the grocery store. She was wishing she was someplace fabulous and fun, instead she was buying kitchen utensils, acne cream for her kids, and her big excitement was picking out a new shampoo. Yup, necessary, boring….frumpy.   I told her another Campaign pledge was to put some spice back into our shopping experiences.

For example…. I have always been a fan of Victoria’s Secret’s undergarments. For years, VS was my go-to store when I needed new bra’s and panties. Going to VS is an experience of its own. You can’t help but feel girly and alittle sexy just walking in there…. There are the adorable items that look great only on Barbie dolls, there are great patterns and styles, and even lotions and perfumes to try. Now, granted, in recent years, I was having to hunt a bit harder to find the back corner where Basic Bras for Mature Bodies were hiding, but it was still a good experience.

Contrast that to yesterday…. I took my son to a department store, left him off to look for school clothes in the men’s department, while I did a 10-minute speed run through the lingerie department trying to find a few sale items that would fit fairly well – which was tough to determine when trying them on during hot flashes in a crowded and noisy fitting room.   Nope, not the same experience at all. Frumpy. Mental note: make time to go visit my old friends at VS.

And that brings us to our other Stop the Frump challenge. Our body images. My husband, God Bless him, is prolific with compliments for me. I am lucky that he tells me quite regularly that he loves my body, thinks I’m beautiful just the way I am. To any men reading this, do not stop saying these things to us. It is exactly what we need to hear, even if we pretend it isn’t. But sometimes we RW’s need to commiserate with a BFF about all that is wrong with our bodies. There are times when we don’t want to hear “oh, you are great the way you are”….. instead we want to compare frustrations over muffin tops that won’t go away, pants or skirts that no longer fit, complain about slowing metabolisms, or ask each other where the HECK that back fat came from…. It is that old adage that misery loves company.

As my BFF and I wallowed our way through our appetizers, we empathized about not just our bodies – but the fashion and style issues that come with the territory. As our bodies have changed, clothing that looked great as recently as two years ago now looks pretty awful. Body parts move south, awkward bulges appear, and we try to find ways to adapt. We stop tucking in. We stop trying to fit into skinny jeans. And soon we realize that the only styles that look good on us are flowy and patterned. But we are weary of flowy and patterned.   We have younger co-workers who look cute and trendy in fun styles, while we look – you guessed it – frumpy.

As Campaign activists, we have determined that the Retail world is missing the mark – we need new styles created for the “mature and menopausal” that fall somewhere between the dreaded Mom Wear, and the painful Trying Too Hard looks. And we vowed that at any time, if any of us find something great that fits that need, we immediately contact the others with location and price. There is hope – the fine folks at Warner’s have a line of bra’s that promise to “put the girls back where they belong.”   Figures they’d understand, Warner’s has been around since our Grandmothers wore their products.

So to any of you, dear readers, who are feeling a bit dull, please join our Campaign. And share any ideas you have to Stop the Frump.   As for me and my BFF who texted me from the grocery store? This Friday we are taking the afternoon off to go get a massage at a day spa, then going to see a Comedienne at a local Casino (with a two-drink minimum, woo-hoo!). It’s not as wild as jetting off to the Carribbean for a Club Med vacation, but hey – we are Real Women. And this is the kind of real pick-me-up we need.

Heck, I might even be a rebel and wear black and tuck in.




Adventure or Experiment?

fridgeIt seems to happen in the blink of an eye. One minute it’s all clean and orderly, then you close the door, turn your back, and things start to happen when you aren’t looking. Objects multiply and change, while other bits hide and lurk in the dark only to make their presence known in an unpleasant way when they’ve been long since forgotten.

Yes, I’m referring to the world inside our refrigerators.

Any Real Woman with at least one other person living under her roof and sharing her cold storage is familiar with the Saga of the Leftovers. We were all raised to not waste food. If there is anything that does not get immediately eaten, it is to be re-packaged and slid into the refrigerator or freezer until such time it can be brought back out, recycled, re-served, and consumed. At least that is the theory. Reality, however, is rarely that smooth and effective.

This past week, we hosted a large weekend gathering of friends and family… and, as is typically true of our social get-togethers, large amounts of food of all types was served. Even though the folks involved in this group had good appetites, there were plenty of leftovers. And in the rush to get things put away after every meal, those food stuffs were poured, spooned, dropped and spread into a myriad of containers. Each time this was done, there was the grand search through the SFT (Scary Forest of Tupperware) in my cabinet, or a rushed scrounging for the right size Ziploc to cover the food. Once cleaned up and packaged, there was the next dreaded step: finding space in cold storage. Luckily, I have a second refrigerator/freezer unit in my basement. It is not large, and usually is home to a variety of beverages — but when necessary, it becomes Food Overflow.

When either my stepson or my nephews are visiting, leftovers are rarely an issue – food fairly rapidly disappears….but when it is just my immediate family unit, I’m sad to say we aren’t that efficient. As a matter of fact, I frequently have an internal battle with myself as I clean up after dinner…. “do I throw this out now and feel guilty, or do I store it away hoping I’ll re-use it, only to have it go bad and get thrown out anyway?”

So last night, several days after the gathering, I opened my fridge door and sighed. It was time to do a clean out. As a general rule, I sort through the contents of my refrigerator and freezer on a weekly basis, cleaning out anything that is expired or will not be repurposed.   And each time, I feel like a combination between Jacques Cousteau and Marie Curie. I don’t know whether to be fascinated or frightened by what I may find.

Like some sort of magical dark world, or a mad scientist’s laboratory, the contents of the fridge change over time. There are a few things that are inevitable: fruit changes color and either gets mushy or grows white fuzzy stuff. Lunch meat gets slimy and funky smelling. Cheese turns green. Liquids freeze, separate, grow scum or turn sour.   Yet each time I enter this chilly environment, I feel like I discover or learn something new. Who knew that guacamole turns the color of chocolate pudding?   Did you ever notice that some products pleasantly suggest “best by” dates, while others carry a more dire proclamation to “use by”?   And why is it that my milk may only last a week, but half-and-half apparently is good for a whole ‘nother month?

I bravely dig on, until I can actually see all the way to the back of the unit, I can wipe down some spills off shelves, and the light is actually bright again. Similar products are categorized together (dairy on one shelf, fruit on another, jams and jellies hanging out in one happy family), and I feel at peace with my cold storage…. until…… either I go grocery shopping and refill the space, or make several meals and start the leftover cycle all over again.

Now I completely realize, and embarrassingly admit, that this is a stereotypical “First World Problem.” Oh, gee, darn, I have too much food. What an ironically twisted issue with so many hungry people in not only the world, but our own country and even neighborhoods. I do donate non-perishable food items as often as possible, and I’ve started getting my son involved in some volunteer work at our local Food Pantry.   I remember as a child, my mother once tried the tactic on me to get me to eat by saying “eat your supper, there are children starving in other parts of the world.” I remember looking at her in horror and saying “well, quick, let’s send this to them!” Truly if there was some way to safely donate the contents of my fridge before they turned into a science experiment, I’d be thrilled.

In the meantime, I will do my best to monitor what goes in and what goes out. I will be as creative as I can in re-cycling, re-using and re-purposing the items that live in there. And when all else fails, perhaps I can save some interesting specimens for the Smithsonian.









Summer Doing

Summer relaxation“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”  – Ayn Rand

Ah, summer…. Every year we look forward to it, with visions of relaxation dancing in our heads. Those lazy, hazy days of summer – lounging on a beach, or sitting in a rocking chair on the porch sipping tea, or just laying in the grass watching the puffy white clouds go by…such lovely images.

But the reality of a Real Woman’s summer is neither lazy nor relaxing. It is more like a race to pack 50 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag as quickly as possible.

Here in New England, summers are pretty short. So we feel compelled to make the very most of them while they last. And in the blink of an eye, every weekend gets jammed with activities, every weekday is packed with getting things done and preparing for the weekends, and if a vacation or big event is in the plans – well, that’s when we slip into turbo drive.

Of course, we are our own worst enemies. It really doesn’t have to be this way. If we were smart, we could plan several days off to do nothing but lay around and watch the grass grow. But no, that doesn’t seem right. We have projects to complete around the house, we have special activities to plan with the family, we have kids to transport back and forth to camps, and we have trips and adventures to experience. We have to DO…. All the time.

Ironically, we get so busy “doing” summer that we stop participating in some of the simple things that keep us the most sane and bring us the most pleasure. We get too busy to connect with friends, or we skip our workouts, or we let our magazines stack up, or we forget how to snuggle in and watch a movie, or we let that rocking chair on the front porch gather dust….all those coping mechanisms we use in the colder, darker months get dropped because we are “too busy” doing other things.

As a classic R.W., I packed far too much into the first half of our summer. I didn’t mean to. Really, I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even realize how busy we were – because I was too busy to notice. Then a few nights ago, as we were nearing the end of the month, over dinner I mentioned to my husband and son that I wanted us all to think about anything else we wanted to “do” during the month of August. Was there any place else they wanted to go, any other activities they wanted to experience?   They both wearily looked at me and asked “can we just stay home?”

It was like someone put a stop sign up in front of my face. Here I was worried that we hadn’t “done” enough. After all, we really hadn’t planned a big vacation this summer… instead we had been busy with weekend activities, a few short road trips and family visits. And the first half of the summer had flown by. What the men in my life were trying to tell me is “it is time to slow down and relax now while we still can.”

We are lucky enough to have a pool in our backyard. Yet we’ve spent very little time enjoying it so far. My son and I have yet to pick up our tennis rackets to go try to get the ball over the net a few times and laugh a lot trying. We haven’t done a fun casual family bike ride together. We haven’t gone to a drive-in movie, or even laid around in our living room cooling off after a hot day and watching an old classic on tv. We haven’t all just hung out on the front porch, sipping lemonade and watching the world go by.

And so it is time. Time to stop rushing, time to stop doing. In these last weeks before school starts and we start heading into the next season, it is time to lay back and watch those puffy clouds, to finally relax. I thought I’d be sad that my family doesn’t want to go somewhere or accomplish something else. But instead I feel a sense of relief, and eager anticipation. Because we are about to start doing something truly special together: nothing.

You give it a try too.  We can compare notes later.