How long will it take? I remember the conflicting emotions very well. The precious few days – maybe weeks – (maybe hours!) – between the deep sigh that welcomed summer and the deep fear that grabbed me when I realized it was really summer!

The deep sigh – “ahhhhh” – was in response to the gift of time that summer often brings. The jolt of fear – “aaaaaahhhhhh!” was in response to the gift of time that summer often brings!

I longed to enjoy the time, to savor the time, to play with the time, to connect differently in the time – because now we had time.

But as a family, we were already in the habit of rushing, of going quickly from one event to the other, of living from an agenda whose goal was performance and productivity; we were getting better at connecting so we could achieve and accomplish . . .but summer time connections? What might those be?

My children are older now, but I remember very well how you may be feeling.

  • What if summer time connections could be more life-giving than the agenda driven connections that are the norm of the school year?
  • Do I have permission to give you some inspiration to consider summer time connections?

Let’s start from a place of reality: to everything there is a season. Connecting on productivity, celebrating performance, connecting on achievement – those connections have their place in our relationships. We live in the real world; when these “agenda-driven” connections are healthy, many good things can be the result.

Let’s stay in that place of reality: to everything there is a season. Always connecting on productivity and celebrating achievement burns the gas in our tank. No matter how beautiful my car is, or how super-charged my engine is (is that even a real way to talk about engines? I’m not a car girl!) – my car needs maintenance and my car needs to fill-up with gas. So does yours.

Because I’m not a car girl, I asked my phone, “Do race cars use a different kind of gasoline?” They do! So my analogy is going to work!

You probably didn’t expect this information in my blog (neither did I!), but here goes:

  • NASCAR engines burn 110-octane leaded gasoline.
  • Indy cars burn pure methanol.
  • Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars burn nitromethane.

Google goes on to tell me, “Each of these fuels has advantages and disadvantages. For example, methanol (. . . ) can run at extremely high compression ratios (meaning more power) – and you can extinguish a methanol fire with water. 110-octane gasoline also handles high compression well. Nitromethane is basically a liquid explosive and contains a great deal of energy (. . . ).” (That must explain why, when I get really angry – I can clean my whole house!)

Back to the people part of the analogy; every season in our lives is not designed to be racing season. We are not really even built to be race cars – always competing and running at full speed.

But we often do compete; running at full speed is often what we consider “normal”. And we are accustomed to using our emotions to super-charge our hormone production so we have access to high octane fuel. Our performance driven lives exist on this kind of fuel.

The bad news: this fuel is killing us. (Dr. Caroline Leaf offers an incredible picture of what our brains look like when we continuously run on this toxic fuel; see my GOOD STUFF page to see her diagram from her book, The Gift in You)

The good news: it’s summer. Yes, it’s going to take some time in detox. Yes, everyone will experience symptoms of withdrawal. My inspiration for you today:

Resist the temptation to treat the withdrawal symptoms with more toxic fuel. Expect to experience a time of “the shakes” – tell your children to expect it, too. Watch for it, call it what it is! And celebrate the withdrawal instead of feeding it. Move past it; don’t medicate it.

This blog post is already technically too long; I’m over the 500 word limit that is supposed to be your capacity for continuing to read.

So, I’ll conclude with these bullet points: (you, as a reader, are supposedly really in love with bullet points!)

  • Watch for more blog posts that offer recipes and ideas for summer time fuel.
  • Consider this agenda for your family’s summer: develop a mature taste for healthy fuel.

I’d love to hear your thoughts; please leave a comment. Share your recipes and ideas for summer time fuel.

  • ann

    good ideas about changing gears for summertime, and for anytime the usual routine shifts to the unusual. Routine means security, so a mindful switch to the unscheduled life is rich indeed.

    • Janet

      Your words are both inspiring and powerful – “a mindful switch to the unscheduled life is rich indeed” – thank you friend!

  • Rachel

    This reminds me: As a child my Mom always made a point to not have my brother and I in scheduled activities during summertime. It became a time of rest and fun. We would go to the library and neighborhood pool almost every day, then spend afternoons snuggled in one of our beds (or a pillow fort) reading. We’ve moved away from this a bit as we have both gotten older. Perhaps this is a good reminder to make “a mindful switch to the unscheduled life” for this coming summer!

    • Janet

      Good memories Rachel – reminds me of riding my bike to the library and checking out the max of 6 books, only to return in a day or two (or the afternoon!) because I had read them and wanted 6 more!