“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”–Mark Twain
It has been a little more than a week since the Summer Solstice. It is 85 days until the Autumnal Equinox. Summer is upon us.
Summer is the season of light and sun. It brings us the feeling of vacation, and even if we do not travel or take time off, we luxuriate in a relaxed pace. We plan hikes and brew sun tea. We gather friends and family for picnics and barbecues. In the heat, we move slower and soak up the sun. We find patches of shade and sit still, even for just a bit. We relax and breathe. We even adopt that attitude in our lives, at least for the summer. A loosey-goosey feeling pervades the season, along with the smells of burning charcoal, freshly-mowed grass, and the pierce of the mixture of sunscreen and swimming pool chemicals.
For most of the last decade, I have enjoyed summers off in my work as an environmental educator. What that really meant was unemployment and the need to find a summer job. I always appreciated the chance to do something different for the summer. This summer I am taking loosey-goosey to a new level in my life. I am not returning to my job in the fall, I am moving, I am starting school. Some things are set up, but I am taking a relaxed approach to these plans and ideas. Loosey-goosey is now running through my veins and I am taking the advice of one friend when I confessed that this lack of a clear and definite path feels exciting, yet unnerving. The advice, “Enjoy!”
That simple advice and this new approach is good for me. I still want to strive, but relax into it. I want to be in the moment and realize I am the maker of my journey. As much as we think we have control and know the next steps, they really are illusions anyway. Things can change in an instant. In a move that seems counterintuitive to the approach described above, I made a list of things I want to work on and do this summer, to accomplish before the Autumnal Equinox. The difference is doing so with a more relaxed, loosey-goosey approach. I know what I want to do, but may not necessarily have the particulars figured out yet. I have some idea of structure, but don’t want to get too fixated on how I think my life should be. Instead I want to find and create what will be.
I do not mean waiting for things to fall out of the sky, but putting my resources together so that I can respond quickly to opportunity. I want to be more responsive, more authentic, more flexible, more spontaneous, more relaxed, more loosey-goosey. I want to match up my passions and talents with new directions and outlets.
There is a quote from some movie that is floating in my head that seems to fit this moment, right now. “Loosey-goosey, baby, loosey-goosey!”
Here is my loosey-goosey list, baby!
1. A weighty issue!
I have written before about my goal for losing weight. I have lost a substantial amount in the last year, and I have just a bit more to lose to reach my goal. This is for me, for health, and yes, even a bit for looks. I am really happy with my body and health right now. I bring that comfort with me. My goal is to lose a certain amount of weight by the Autumnal Equinox, but to continue with this, “I do not hate my body and I refuse to do so.” I look forward to some new workouts, new strength challenges, and new routines for weight loss, strength, health, and happiness. I am on the cusp of the goal and look forward to the journey, as much as the arrival, and will enjoy every stop along the way.
2. Bookin’ it!
I took part of last summer off to work on writing a book of short stories. I spent part of this spring focusing on writing more of those short stories. This summer, I want to finish the book. It means more writing, more imagining, more editing. It means getting brave and getting out of my way. I have a few more short stories to write, quite a few to edit and rewrite, and quite a few to send out for edits and suggestions. The goal, by the Autumnal Equinox, is to have 26 short stories written and edited. And, if possible, I want to schedule a writer’s retreat in South Dakota, which I have delayed for a year for various reasons, for August or September to work on the stories and manuscript. Whether or not this book gets published is another issue and will become a separate question and a separate goal for a later time.
3. Training to be a Personal Trainer!
In the past year or so, I have run a marathon, lost some weight, and have pondered future career changes. After doing quite a bit of research, and then contacting a dear friend from my high school days, I landed on personal training as a possible side career. I would love to take my own personal momentum and be able to help others on their paths to fitness, weight loss, and health. I would love to help take the intimidation out of going to the gym or entering a triathlon or running a marathon. I would love to be that encouraging voice and the accountability for someone just getting off the couch. Over the winter and spring, in informational interviews, I asked two personal trainers about their career paths, their thoughts on certification, and being a personal trainer. All of this research has convinced me that this path is a good one for me, even if it is part-time and on the side of some other things. The goal is to study for and pass the Certified Personal Trainer Exam to become a Certified Personal Trainer by fall.
4. Swimming to Lifeguard!
Last summer, I fell in love with swimming. Years before that, though, I fell in love with the idea of being a lifeguard. It started when I was little and I had a bit of little sister syndrome, as my older sister was a lifeguard and everything she did seemed cool to me in elementary school. And then in high school it seemed like an awesome summer job. Now that I am approaching 40, it seems like an embarrassing aspiration, but I am caring less about what others think. Now it’s about testing myself and doing something different. Now it’s about my comfort and endurance in the water. Now it’s about going for new swimming goals, longer distances, and races. I will take a lifeguard class and pass the lifeguard test, much like the way I entered a triathlon last fall, to prove that I am up to the challenge physically. I am swimming laps and treading water and getting ready for a class in late summer. Lifeguard certification goes quite well with personal training and I would love to be able to help people with beginning to swim and trying triathlons.
5. Moving, moving, moving!
For almost my entire adult working life, I have talked about my desire to return to live and work in New Mexico. As the years have passed, the craving has only increased. After spending half of last summer in New Mexico, I knew I needed to figure out a plan. Several long weekend jaunts during the school year only cemented the idea in my head and heart. The two weeks in early June when I stayed in Albuquerque was the push-turned-to-shove to make it happen. After a few more days in Colorado packing and wrapping up some things, I will be an intinerant visitor. I will spend some time in northern New Mexico with my mother and possibly do a bit of traveling. By the end of the summer, though, I will have an apartment and mailing address in Albuquerque.
6. New work, new life!
Most of my life, I have cultivated my sense of identity from my work. I have worked for nonprofit environmental and conservation groups. I found my dreams matched up with my skills and I found my passions became my avocation. I always patted myself on the back that I didn’t just have a job, but a cause. I am not giving up that idea, but I want to stretch my wings and try some new things. I will find a job to meet my needs. I am quite sure that I will return to teaching, possibly getting my teaching licensure, but not yet. For now, I am sending resumes out, calling people in my small network, and beginning. I realize that starting a job is the first step, while creating an avocation is a longer process, but that’s okay. It is exciting and scary and oh, so very good!
7. Starting anew at massage therapy school!
A couple of years ago, I started massage therapy school here in Colorado. The introduction was amazing and I knew that I had found one of the things that I wanted to do in my life. I loved the focus on healing and relaxation and therapy. I loved that I could focus on sports therapy. Juggling school and work, with a long commute and other duties became too much. I could not do it all, so I put school and those dreams on hold for a while. I found a great school in Albuquerque that seems to mesh quite well for me. The schedule and timeline and flexibility are perfect for combining with full or part-time work. The focus and approach of the school is exactly what I want. This is the beginning of something. I will begin massage therapy classes at the end of summer. I am rounding up friends upon whom I can practice what I learn. I begin anew.
Sometimes shaking things up is what is needed. Sometimes it takes a season to get things in order. Sometimes it helps to realize you were moving in the direction all along. Sometimes it takes the encouragement of friends and listening to the inner voice. Sometimes it means looking deep and going against the grain. Sometimes it means taking a new loosey-goosey approach.