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It’s Fall — time to make time for myself

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Summer is coming to a close. Fall is upon us. It’s time to begin again.

Every year, I cross my fingers and hope that the more relaxed vibe of the warmer school-free months will carry on through to the more manic scheduled days of September. This year is no exception. School supplies are purchased and standing by, my house is in disarray following some fresh coats of paint, and we are visiting with family in the Midwest through Labor Day. There is no reason to believe I will maintain the kind of calm that helped me drive through the many heavy rains along I-80 once things start to get crazy except that I want to, and I’ve been practicing — a lot.

There is always so much to do. There are always people who need your help, and priorities to be set over what gets done first and how and when to draw the line on giving to others versus doing what you need to do for yourself. Kids’ schedules trump mommy or daddy me-time, and all of a sudden the mind is saturated again with must-dos instead of I-wanna-dos.

And yet, pleasure has to be built in to the schedule. There must be priority given to doing things for yourself and your family that are fun. Even though vacation may be a memory, pictures downloaded onto the computer to do God-knows-what with, God knows when, mini moments of joy and appreciation of life are so necessary to be able to function happily and well.

I love to travel in summer, and make visiting places on the water a special priority. When I’m home, I try to include a walk or run into Prospect Park most mornings to sit by the little lake and take in the sights of the turtles climbing the logs, or the swans gliding along the water. Herons often perch on the rocks, then take off, spreading their wings majestically as they sail over the glistening water and into the lush treetops. The days I can’t go, I try to sit by a window and at least conjure that spot or others from the views I’ve built up in my mental arsenal over the years. I try to imagine the sound of the cicadas in the trees, the calls of one bird to another that carry across the water.

I have to remind myself to practice this daily ritual of taking in beauty once mornings become race-like again, once everyone’s various schedules start to play out in my mind along with my own. And I have to remember to put other things on the calendar too, things I look forward to. We went to dinner with family friends recently. We chose the Bao on St. Mark’s Place. It was delicious and different, and just being in the East Village was like being on vacation since it is such a different world than Park Slope. We went for ice cream afterward at Lab 321 and tried Dragon’s Breath cereal puffs in liquid nitrogen, and the rolled ice cream. Yum.

We have to do this more, travel to different neighborhoods around the city to explore. It breaks up the monotony and gets everyone on board. It takes all the stresses in one’s mind and puts them off for a bit so we can be together and enjoy, regenerate ourselves for the next bout of school or work. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Sometimes it’s enough just to walk around, and certainly there is cheap delicious food in abundance around the city.

I have to repeat these things to myself as a mantra: find nature in real life or in your mind every morning; make a point of putting exploration on the calendar; get together with friends in a fun new setting.

The best role model I can be for my kids is being a happy joyous person, the person that sometimes seems easier to find and embrace on summer vacation. But I am not letting her slip away this fall, I can be productive and still find pleasure, it just takes practice.

Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.
Posted 12:00 am, September 1, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

HONEY POOTER from Williamsburg says:
As you don't really work, isn't every single day making time for yourself? Anyone could be happy if they were being supported by someone else and only pursued what they felt like.
Sept. 1, 2016, 9:35 am
Steph from Park Slope says:
Honey Pooter, thanks for reading! I totally agree that anyone can be happy. But it takes effort, at any income level or employment status. I see people who are rich and unhappy and plenty with so little who are so grateful. I think you sell me and yourself very short with your comment: give us credit for trying, please. I'm trying, and despite all I have, it's not always easy. I hope you also work at building happiness in your life. And I hope you succeed.
Sept. 3, 2016, 6:21 pm

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