Here’s a unique thought – what if, instead of thinking about the things we want to do or accomplish this summer – we take one big, deep belly breath. Maybe several. Breathe in, breathe out and get really, really still. Breathe out once more and release all of that clenched up energy that you’ve been holding in our gut. Do you feel it? I feel it so often. That clenching sensation. It does not feel like freedom. It feels like chains. I am so tired of chains. Now, visualize all of that toxic energy leaving your body. Like a mist floating out into the air. Freeing us for a new kind of season. A summer. A soul summer.
Last week I listened to an episode of Emily P. Freeman’s podcast “The Next Right Thing”. It was Episode 181 and it was titled “A Soul Minimalist’s Guide to Summer.” Interesting, right? She talks about something called soul minimalism – promoting the things we value most and removing anything that distracts from it – like regular minimalism but on an internal level. She offered 5 steps to a simplified summer and I was sold. Sign me up. If you are interested, go take a listen. Her podcast is always short and sweet and lovely – with a great takeaway or two.
So, what’s a soul summer? Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t know if I’ve ever had one. Or maybe I’ve had several, but I’ve never considered them in this way before. I’ve never named it. But, you guys. We all know that 2020 was a lot. It was a heavy year. We are still carrying it. It somehow seeped into our bones. Damage we didn’t even know was there has spilled over into 2021 and we’ve spent the first half of this year undoing, restarting, adjusting, side stepping, pivoting, learning, unlearning … all the things really. Honestly, I’m tired. I’m finally going to admit it. My soul feels tired. If there were ever a good time for something we are going to call a soul summer it’s THIS summer.
Now, my soul summer won’t be the same as your soul summer. Your soul, your inner self, will likely need something different than my soul needs. Maybe your soul needs fun. Play. Maybe your soul needs reflection. Awakening. Maybe your soul needs connection. Creativity. Quality time. Maybe it’s rest. Soul rest.
Need help figuring out what your soul needs this summer? That’s okay. I did too. It feels a little funny, doesn’t it? It seems unnatural to ponder what our souls need. A little foo-foo. I mean, we don’t go around talking about our souls all the time. But, there is magic here, so let’s do it anyway.
Ask yourself: What do I value most for myself – my inner self – this summer? What do I value most for my family – what do their inner selves need – this summer? What is distracting me? What is distracting my people? What has a stronghold on me? What needs my attention the most? Or WHO needs my attention? What can I skip? What would be inner life-giving for me this summer? What will my summer posture be? Where should I look for God? Where is my shame? Where is shame showing up IN me? What limiting beliefs do I need to let go of?
If you’ve reflected on each of these questions and you still feel stuck – look for the shame. Where is the shame inside of you? What are you telling yourself? What lie are you telling yourself? Let this lead you …
For me … the shame led me to realize that my soul needs a summer of rest. Rest and I have a complicated relationship. The shame tells me that I do not have permission to rest. That I am not worthy of rest. That I have not done enough to deserve rest. That I have nothing to show you to prove that I am worthy of rest. Shame and lies often come packaged in the same wrapping paper. What is your shame telling you?
What will it look like to plan rest for my soul? I’m still considering that. I’m resisting the urge to make a list, because to-do lists don’t look restful exactly, but let’s be honest, I love a list and lists do bring a certain calm … for me anyways.
So far, I know it looks like giving myself permission to actually rest. And, that will be something I have to wake up and choose each and every day. It will take time and practice. I will have to look in the mirror and tell myself “It is safe for me to rest. I have permission to rest. I am most creative and productive when I take time to rest. I do not have to prove that I am worthy of rest.” But, what will this rest look like? I’m not sure. Being outside. Relaxing. I know reading will be involved. Hopefully, longer, slower morning routines. Sitting. Silence. Long walks with my dog. Connection. Rocking chairs. Porch swings. Farmers Markets. Our garden. Saying no to things that won’t serve me or my family. Even the good things. I’m pretty sure it also looks like fresh flowers, candles at the dinner table, s’mores, fresh squeezed lemonade. Allowing peaceful beauty and simplicity to bring rest to my soul.
Truthfully, I don’t have it perfectly planned. A perfect plan isn’t the point anyways. I think just naming it – naming your summer posture – is a great place to start.
I’ll keep you posted as I go. And, please do the same. Let’s go. Make it a great summer for our souls.
Happy Soul Summer!