I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! It seems the blogosphere is determined to cut mine short by posting about shopping for fall already… Stahp it! I have summer weather until Halloween in California, let me live in denial that it will ever be over, just a little longer!
I have had a great summer so far. Nothing crazy, no elaborate travel plans or long getaways – just a mellow summer mostly at home. But this summer is different. I needed this summer to be something special. I have decided that this summer is….
Stephanie’s Summer of Chill, 2016.
Imagine that in lights on a marquee, announced by a guy with a moustache over a loudspeaker or something. Because that’s how baller it is.
I went into this summer needing a break. Just in general. Anthony finished his PhD in March, then graduated in June when we threw a big party, and it the midst of it all he was trying to find jobs. It was pretty stressful. Really stressful, actually. The months leading up to summer were just intense.
So intense things were happening, but also I had gotten into this intense productive mode where I was doing all this shit to like, become a put-together person. It was probably a coping thing – trying to make sure I crossed all my t’s and dotted all i’s so I could feel better about what felt to me like a pretty chaotic couple of months. Here are some examples:
- I was tracking how many drinks I had, how I ate, how much I exercised, etc. – every day, using this app
- I was feeling guilty for not blogging enough
- I was posting things like this, and trying to find magic ways to get my shit together around the house
- I was posting things like this, feeling like I needed to lose weight but also resenting that idea (and trying to laugh about it while I figured it out)
- I was feeling guilty about not working out enough
- I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t saving enough money, and that I was spending too much
So there was a lot that I felt like I needed to improve, or tackle, or manage, or advance about myself. And I had a day where I realized how insane my brain was getting – it would go round and round, trying to find something to fix, trying to find something wrong, so I could pounce on it and fix it. It was like this Pinterest mentality of hyper vigilance I had established over my life. I finally realized what a weirdo I was being – Why, Steph?! Fucking chill. out.
That’s when I decided – we are taking a break. A BREAK. From all of it. Here are all the things I decided to get rid of for the summer:
- Guilt, about anything
- Self-improvement projects
- Exercise routines that aren’t fun
- Tracking of anything not fun or that produces guilt (see above)
- Negative thoughts about my body
And I just, let go. I focused on doing things that were fun. We made a summer bucket list (which I am shooting to post about soon, but if not, no guilt). I did more stuff outside after work. I didn’t think about how much beer I had that week, or if I was getting enough cardio. I stopped caring how clean my house was, or how my belly looked in that top.
I don’t know, my head was just in the right place to just stop fucking caring about that shit. And it worked.
Why just the summer, you may ask? Why isn’t this just your new life?
Well, telling myself that it was just for the summer to start was a way to really let go of the guilt completely, because things like finding ways to save money are things I will need to get around to eventually, but not necessarily now. So I thought, okay – I can really just forget about it for a while, and I’ll pick it up in the fall, if I want to. But the idea was, if I could just get in the right mindset, hopefully this will be the new state of things.
And it has been an amazing, stress-free summer. It really was so great, you guys. I just lived my life. Now it’s August, and I still have so many fun things I still want to do while the weather is still warm – but I am also learning to prioritize fun things all year round. I established great healthy habits while I was in my intense phase over the winter months, that have stuck throughout the summer, but without the guilt and fastidious tracking. And some new productive habits have just naturally emerged – Anthony and I have worked on cooking at home a lot more, which is saving us money and allowing us to eat healthier. I realized I didn’t have to have the intense attitude to make improvements like that – and, more importantly, guilt doesn’t have to be a part of it.
As I mentioned, the rest of the world is getting ready for fall, and work is starting to get busy again (work has been so slow for the summer, which helped a lot with the carefree attitude) – so I can feel some of the old ways creeping back in. I’m extra tired and stressed this week, so I have less energy to go do fun stuff after I get home – but I’ll adjust. I just need to keep the spirit of chill alive through fall, too.
What has helped center me back to that mindset is asking myself this question, that I kept thinking when our friend was visiting a few weeks back…
What would I do today if I were on vacation?
I love playing tourist in my own city, and just because I worked that day doesn’t mean I can’t take dinner up to the mission and have a picnic, or grab a beer at a new restaurant in town, or walk down to thrift shop after I get home. Sometimes I save all the fun for the weekend, and do all the boring stuff after work – working out, cleaning, catching up on shows. I realized I need more balance, so I don’t get so bummed when Monday rolls around. My life can happen in between Fridays! I need to get off the couch more and treat my life like one big summer vacation, work or no work.
I’m into it, guys. I’ll let you know if I can keep the spirit alive as we get closer to fall! What have you done to de-stress lately and enjoy summer?