Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Invincible Summer

Summer to me has always meant impromptu outdoor cookouts with loved ones, lazy days spent at the pool,  and being absolutely enchanted with the sights and smells of my garden.

Henry James said, “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” And I agreed with him…until now.

In the past year I have developed a severe allergy to heat (strange, I know). Now, I am sequestered inside my home for days and weeks at a time.

Initially, I considered this a curse and went through the typical cycle of loss--anger, pity, and so on. What was I going to do all summer without the pool and my beloved garden? Without cheering for my kids at their swim meets and baseball games?

I listened to my heart in sadness as I felt all the pain of losing a part of myself. But I also listened to my heart and let my deepest desires guide me toward a healthy and perhaps even more fulfilling place.

I secretly have always wanted to be an artist. I never had the courage because I thought it was frivolous and unnecessary. I didn’t think it deserved a high enough priority to make time for it. There are children to take care of and bills to pay and really my needs should come last, right?

According to my heat allergy, wrong. Suddenly, my calendar is wide open. Yes, I am unable to do fun outdoor activities, but also unable to do the mundane—grocery shopping, errand-running, chauffeuring children around town. I have more “free time” for myself than I have had since college.

Now, I’ve filled those gaps that left my heart aching with painting flowers instead of planting them. I’m taking amazing online courses about creativity. I’m learning to enjoy indoor plants. I'm learning how to sew.  I even started this blog.  I'm doing all the things I've put off for years!

I’ve felt gratitude from the love I’ve received from my parents and friends who are always surprising me in ways they offer to help, constantly redeeming my faith in humanity and reminding me to pay it forward and help someone else.

And, I’ve learned that art isn’t frivolous—it gives me an energy that makes me a better wife, mother and friend. Creating art was missing in my life, perhaps I just needed to let go of some things to make room for it…

like a sunflower that must die so that hundreds of new seeds have a chance to grow.

Could this heat allergy possibly be a gift? A curse and a blessing?

And this made me wonder, does everyone else feel this way about something in their own lives, as well? If so, I wish you patience and perspective as you uncover dimensions you never knew you had.

Albert Camus said, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.”

I think I have found my peace. This isn’t my gardening summer. It isn’t my poolside summer. This is my invincible summer.

                                            (photo courtesy of my adventurous sister, Erin)