Letting Go Creates the Perfect Summer Holidays

by Diane Sweeney on July 17, 2014

gi letting go butterfly1 300x224 Letting Go Creates the Perfect Summer HolidaysAccording to the Law of Diane (which has reigned in our household for 25 years or so), summer holidays are supposed to be filled with family, friends, food – both cooking and eating, chatter, busy-ness, either hours of travel or days of guests.

It is not supposed to be a day for only two or interaction with complete strangers in the park. (well, that is allowed as long as family or friends are meeting these strangers with you).

It was a struggle.

I knew my husband Don needed a day to just BE. We had some major contracting work going on at our house all week. He wanted (and needed) to review what had been completed, reflect on it and prepare his expectation for the carpenters for the following week.

Thoughts of extended family time in NY or entertaining friends in our yard were floating through my mindand…

Had I asked to do either or anything else, he would gracefully gone along with the plans.

 

Give up the Selfish Control Stuff

 

It was time for me to be nice and not selfish and give the man a moment to call his own.

All the other moments of his life he sweetly gives to me.

So I did it. Truly. From my heart. But I wasn’t sure how I would react.

 

And what did I find ….. but that I had the most delightful, unpressured, relaxing and fulfilling 4th of July.

 

 

We woke at leisure,

Had our first cups of tea,

Headed into our wonderful little town’s “Good Neighbor Day” celebration.

We laughed and enjoyed all the young kiddies pedaling with all their might in the annual “Big Wheel Race”,  grabbed our favorite cup of coffee and slowly meandered through the vendors, stopping, touching, talking and enjoying the goods that local craftspeople made and sold.

Crossing the street to the food vendor and carnival side of the event we ran into people we knew, exchanged small talk and good wishes; and then chatted with complete strangers about the various food choices available to savor.

Don went to one food truck; I to another – each partaking in personal favorites. We lowered ourselves into uncomfortable folding chairs under the big white tent and listened to the fairly good band play old fashioned celebration songs like “In the Good Old Summertime” and the expected, and desired, patriotic tunes.

Smiling together at the people with the red, white and blue clothes, hats, glasses, socks and waving flags, we finished up our sandwiches, made room for the next group approaching the table and took the long way back to the car.

 

The Discovery

 

It was slow, it was nice.

We sat on our fairly clean patio  (and didn’t fuss about the non-clean parts) with our cold electric lemonades; a stack of newspapers and unread books – and read, chatted and enjoyed the incredible weather in our yard with no one else to prepare for and nowhere else we had to be.

My goodness… why didn’t someone tell me how nice this could be? I’ve been making myself crazy for years with the need to celebrate in a big way!

Several hours later together Don created a delicious meal of steak, clams, corn and potatoes on the new grill. (Obviously we still had the food part of the holiday!) We enjoyed it in the comfort of our wooded yard with our favorite Grenache/shiraz wine.

As Don grilled, I fed my beginning to emerge need to connect. A few Facebook postings and phone calls to family and friends to wish them a happy 4th satisfied that urge.

At dusk, we headed back into town and sat in our lawn chairs to watch the always reliable and rarely great fireworks show. We applauded the display and headed back home.

We returned just in time to watch the end of the Macy’s spectacular fireworks display, the entirety of Philadelphia’s fabulous fireworks, and called it a day.

 

The Ideal Holiday

 

The next day:

  • We traveled 3 hours on turnpikes and highways,
  • Saw many of our favorite people over the course of two days,
  • Ate and drank to excess,
  • Talked endlessly both days into the night, and
  • Watched a fabulous fireworks show from the comfort of my parent’s driveway. (With more wine, of course!)

It was a wonderful July 5th and 6th coupled with a newly discovered perfect 4th.

 

Sometimes Letting Go creates the best experiences of all.

 

Share some of your surprises when you’ve let go of expectation and tradition! We always love to hear your stories!

 

To your best,

Diane

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We Matter. You Matter.

by Diane Sweeney on July 2, 2014

Alaskan Reflections from an Empty Nester on Why You Matter

 

The beauty, depth and breadth of the mountains was magnificent. Pictures could not capture the variation in color, tree height, the hues of green and birch bark standing proudly on the mountainside for hundreds and hundreds of years.

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Then the glaciers – the shades of blue and white standing for millions of years; millions! The majesty, strength and power of all of that ice.

Looking down from the plane at a mere slice of the millions of acres or looking out from the deck of a ship at a small portion of a gigantic glacier, I recognized that I was a speck.

 

I am a tiny bit of dust in this immeasurable cosmos of natural creation.

 

It wasn’t like I hadn’t known I was a mere blip in the history of the earth and universe, but I actually felt it as I gazed upon the mountains and terrain of Alaska.

I felt small, I felt insignificant. Life started and ended for creatures that I never even knew existed in these forests, and on this glacial ice, and the life cycle would go on whether I was here right now or not.  

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I questioned what all of life meant.

 

Moments later, practically in the same thought and breath as my first belief of human irrelevancy, I heard the response.

 

You matter. Each of you matter. A lot.

 

We all get caught up in our story. Our life. Our jobs. Where we are at the moment and the drama and trauma of our family, friends and community.

There were times in the last few years as my nest became empty and my children went off on their own that I struggled with what life was all about.

All the philosophical questions came to mind as I muddled through my days working on redefining myself, my relationships and my home in this new phase of life. I asked what it could all mean as I followed my dreams of building a copywriting and coaching business – a way of connecting to others through my own experiences.

With the ability to think and have quiet hours for the first time in many years, I had the time to ask the questions about things that I chose to ignore in my younger and child raising years.

Sometimes the responses I came up with scared me. Things like, “what if it doesn’t matter?” or “it all means nothing.”

 

Why do we do what we do?

There was one day in just the last couple of months that I was doing yard work for hours on a Saturday and my husband was painting the basement during that same time period. Each alone tending to our chores.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed with uncertainty. What the heck is this all for? Who cares if I plant these flowers, till this soil and get rid of the weeds? What is the significance of us painting, renovating, and refurbishing ‘stuff’ if tomorrow it can all end? Who does it really matter to and why does most of humanity (or at least Americans) spend so much time doing it?

We had a discussion that evening which left my poor husband Don (who was not in the same frame of mind as me) frustrated that I wasn’t accepting our life for what it was. A good life, a blessed life, one in which we have the capacity to actually DO these things which I was saying I wasn’t sure mattered.

 

The Answer:

Then I found myself away from ‘my life’ immersed in the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation in the wilderness of Alaska. Territory and space God created and maintains for his enjoyment and for humans to wonder and gaze upon.

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Small, irrelevant me felt even smaller.

But moments later I felt, big, strong, powerful and mighty. 

Just as God created each branch on the tree, each shade of bark on a birch, and every animal in the wilds for a reason, He created me as well.

God tends to his creations, takes care and provides them with the means to stand tall and withstand the elements, die and rebirth, and even sustain when humans intervene in their natural cycles.

 

Human beings are part of that same creation. We matter. Each of us has a purpose and place in the plan.

 

If tending to our personal garden and household chores is what we have to do to fulfill our role in the plan, then let us each rest assure that God wanted it that way. Just as every tree in a forest is dependent upon the one next to it for shade, shelter, and nutrients, so are we for one another.

Just as all of nature comes together to create a scene that seems surreal, so is the love and compassion of all humankind weaved together to form a picture of what being alive, being here on earth is all about.

 

We matter to God. We matter to one another.

 

Through the infinite goodness of God my husband and I were able to create life ourselves. Our boys are testament to the reason we matter. The lives we touch, and that touch ours, through our daily work and routine, are verification that every living thing matters to the balance and meaning of our world.

Today, know that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whatever mindset you may have – it all matters.

 

YOU are important to the rest of the world. We need you to just be you!

 

Have you had a moment where you realized why your life matters? Please share in the comment section below!

 

Are you looking for ways to find your place and purpose? Or know someone who needs direction and focus for the next phase of life?  Grab a copy of my FREE book here - 5 Steps to Get Focused on Living – Creating a Life After the Kids Have Flown the Coop

 

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 To your best,

     Diane

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