As I write this, summer is already halfway through. School supplies are starting to show up on the shelves and the warm sunny days are flying by in a blur.
Sometimes I wish I could just slow…down…summer. It was true when I was 7 and had no desire to face a new school. And 33 years later it’s just as true, as I want to keep my three ever-growing kids home with me just a little longer.
While I have yet to crack the code of the time space continuum, I have stumbled upon a few ways to savor and slow these days. We may not be able to manage time, but we can certainly fill it to the full.
1. Do something different or unexpected
Saturday evening we were driving home from a visit with family, through back country Texas roads that connected one small town to the next. I’m sure I didn’t see a population sign over 300 for two solid hours. About an hour from home, we came upon what seemed to be all 300 people from the nearest town gathered in a field getting ready to watch a fireworks show.
We could have driven on by and hurried along home as usual. We were tired. It was a long day. We could have just stuck with our plan.
But we didn’t. We pulled over, did our best small town Texan impersonation (not hard—we’re from Waco). The next 90 minutes were filled with football throwing, listening to the country music blaring from the stage and sitting on the roof of our SUV as the Star Spangled Banner played during the finale of the fireworks show.
It was 90 minutes – shorter than most movies. But instead of watching someone else’s story, we lived our own. It was slow and old fashioned. It was unexpected and rich. It was different and memorable.
By simply doing something unexpected we caused time to trade in its mad dash-ing for a little Southern mosey-ing.
2. Paying attention buys time
Want to make 5 minutes feel like an hour? Put your phone down the next time you stand in a line or sit in a waiting room. Forget social media when you go to a party or your roommate wants to tell you A-L-L about her day.
Notice the details. Remember people’s names and the thought they put into their outfit. Stand and accept awkward moments. Sit and feel the wind as it blows across your face or how the sun feels on the back of your neck.
There is so much value in simply noticing. Allow yourself the space to be “bored” – refrain from filling every spare moment with work or entertainment. Just notice. Flowers, paintings, people, needs.
Paying attention is like briefly grabbing hold of a merry-go-round. It doesn’t stop it, but it slows it down long enough to bring things into focus.
3. Take on a challenge
Have you ever heard anyone say, “Wow, the 5 hours it took to run my first marathon just flew by!”
I certainly haven’t.
Now, I’ve never run a full marathon but I’ve run (I use that term loosely) a few half marathons on one of the hilliest courses in Texas and I promise I never, ever had the thought, “Well, that happened in the blink of an eye!” “What a breeze!”
No, I remember wondering if I’d ever, EVER get to the end or if the ambulance would just need to bring me on home. I felt every step and counted every second. There was no wasted or forgotten time.
A challenge is a like a spotlight on the moment. We don’t think about the future or the past. We simply focus on moving from one moment to the next.
Learn a language, train for your first race, start a business, play Candyland with your kids…again.
Not only are you maximizing each moment, you’re also investing in yourself. Crossing that “finish line” will feel like cashing a pay check – all the hard work exchanged for new skills, confidence and best of all…memories.
Whether you’re trying to make the most of a summer break, a particular season in your life or time with loved ones, I hope these simple ideas will add to the richness of your days.