Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Fun: My Mantra

"The heart may freeze or it can burn
The pain will ease if I can learn
There is no future
There is no past
I live this moment as my last
There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today."
--"Another Day", Rent (Jonathan Larson)

We've been singing Broadway musicals here recently, from Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and a few from Rent (which the kiddos are too young to see just yet.)  And so when the time came for me to pick a mantra for my Summer Soul Camp experience--a week-long, web-based spiritual community that focuses on recreation and renewal for adults, i.e. "camp," created by Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves (you'll recall that I've taken several of her classes before, including 30- Day Vegan, Whole Food Kitchen, and the winter "camp" Hibernate)--I chose one of the lyrics from Rent:  No day but today.

It's the modern, NYC/Broadway equivalent of carpe diem, and has a catchy tune, if you know the song, making it easy to remember throughout the ten-day experience.  And I've needed it.  As I mentioned here earlier this week and perhaps a few times before, my back is in a frustrating place.  From the high of our trip to England through the challenges of the five-week tour season at the historic house and to the multiple end-of-year activities, including the kung fu tournament near Phillie, up to and including my new aqua therapy routine, my back has gone from great to good to eh.  I've worn my brace more and taken more pills, both painkillers and muscle relaxers (I've never missed the NSAIDs I'm allergic to so much), than I have in years, which isn't a great sign.  But it's not as bad as it's ever been, not nearly so--I can still drive and sit and walk, and even fold clothes, feed the cats, and unload the dishwasher (and yes, I still feel grateful about those things everyday), so it's really all relative.  It's just taking all my learned mindfulness skills to work through the discomfort and inconvenience in order to continue to enjoy the summer without being limited by pain and fear.  That's no small task sometimes, especially at the end of the day.

And the mantra has helped.  While it could be perceived as hedonistic or narcissistic, the mantra to me speaks of staying in the present and not worrying about the past or the future (or the past repeating itself in the future, for me).  It reminds me to do what I can today, both things that are fun and enjoyable and those that help make me feel better.  And when the pain comes, focusing on the here and now, as emphasized in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), eases its sting.

I haven't been able to do every camp activity--I didn't make the market tote or the prayer flags, yet--but I have been trying to embrace the idea of adult R&R through simple, focused activities.  So today, even with some discomfort and later my brace, I explored the full range of summer possibilities with the kiddos:


  • opened up the house and turned off the AC because it was only 65F overnight;
  • went to aqua therapy and then extra swimming with the kiddos;
  • played several games of cards, including Slap Jack, War, and Slamwich, their new favorite;
  • read several chapters in Lark Rise to Candleford, the semi-autobiographical, nostalgic, rural 19th-century trilogy from England (as seen on PBS, though I'm told the show isn't much like the book);
  • sketched in the yard with the kiddos for half the afternoon--Sis did some imaginary garden designs, Bud did Star Wars characters, and I did our garden statue of a cat;
  • made broccoli and cheese quiche and Dutch babies with our CSA-box eggs;
  • went for a post-dinner walk in the cool breezy air;
  • decided last-minute to go to the town concert on the green, which was inexplicably not happening despite flags and a sign announcing it . . . .
  • so we went for consolation ice cream, which we ate in the front yard while watching the sunset, surprisingly undisturbed by mosquitoes, until Mama got home late!

What a wonderful summer day!!

And thanks to Heather and the camp community for helping me tap summer's potential.  Even though camp ends soon, I know its effects will last til school starts . . . and beyond.

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