This summer has been a complete change from the last. For starters, last summer we hardly saw anyone and our plans consisted of a fairly predictable routine of outings within a few miles of home. This summer, we’ve traveled regularly to visit family and friends and enjoyed a wide variety of activities.
During one of our visits, I caught myself daydreaming about what we were going to do the next day. I was so happy for the upcoming activities and opportunities for making new memories. I found myself thinking ahead even further to the following weeks where we’d scheduled more opportunities for interactions with family and friends. The excitement reaffirmed how I love making and anticipating plans. However, I started to notice that sometimes I fixate on the future. This tendency became especially evident towards the end of a particularly busy, fun-filled, week with family. It struck me that I’d spent almost the entire week anticipating the next activity, the next experience, the next day. And then, the real blow hit: I had been so busy anticipating the next moment that I had practically missed out on simply enjoying the experiences as they occurred.
Of course, I did enjoy many experiences throughout the visit, but I also realized in a very sharp, clear way just how much time and energy I spend focusing on the next thing. I had allowed myself to get caught up in the simple act of making plans, basking in the highly anticipated full summer schedule of activities and gatherings, that I almost forgot to stop making plans and start enjoying them. Planning, of course, has to happen. Without any plans, I’d live in reaction mode and would have zero control over my life or the direction it was headed. To live my life with intention, prioritizing things that are important to me and my family, plans have to be made. This is where my conundrum gets messy: how do I make future plans while still taking time to simply enjoy the moment? How do I strike a balance between enjoying the here and now while also planning and anticipating the future?
It is interesting to think about how the pandemic has affected this balance, considering the fact that my “plans” for the past year consisted of day-to-day basics, surviving, really. My energy was expended on keeping my household relatively healthy and brainstorming activities that fit within recommended restrictions. For over a year, I spent almost every day just doing my best to get through, all the while hoping for an eventual better future reality.
This brings me back to the recent changes of this summer and how my experiences expanded to include in-person interactions and a diverse range of activities away from home. It has been thrilling to exit the confines of our house bubble and to once again have consistent plans to see family and friends in-person; yet, upon deep self reflection, the shift has caused a need for me to relearn certain skills. Skills such as being present and living in the moment. For so long, I’ve been focused on just getting through the moment, it has been a strange transition to restart the journey of once again enjoying the moment.
It feels odd to need to relearn something seemingly simple, reacquainting myself to the concept of enjoying the moment. Of course, even throughout the pandemic, I did find myself enjoying small moments. However, at least for the past year, that experience has felt like the exception, not the rule. Now, I find myself in moments that are more fulfilling than I had anticipated or even hoped for; reconnecting with family and friends has offered a fresh breath of life that I desperately needed. And, in these moments, I find myself craving more, not wanting to slip back into our “house bubble” and the stress of the past year, but to continue to plan and anticipate more future experiences and memories with family and friends.
As we have shifted to a new season and I became aware that I was spending a lot of energy planning and anticipating, it became clear that I needed to focus on relearning how to live in the moment. Throughout this process of relearning, I have realized that I don’t have to wait for the next moment, I can truly enjoy the current moments. And while this is rejuvenating, I’ve also realized the need to extend grace to myself as I navigate this transition. Grace to continue to allow myself the luxury of enjoying making future plans. Grace to forgive myself when I get caught up in the plans themselves instead of the moments as they actually unfold. And, grace to relearn how to simply enjoy and live in the moment once again.
Wendi, her husband, and their two kids live in Minnesota and are currently perfecting their best “ya sure you betcha” accents. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters and a member of the podcast Moms Who Wine.
*photo credit: personal photo*