Summer’s Opportunity

May 29, 2022

Here at the end of May, the lush abundance of color and sunshine is drawing us out of ourselves and into the summery dream. This quality of summer invites us to lay to rest the work that calls on our hardest thinking so that the heart may step forward to bring warmth and imagination into our intellect. 

Summer also brings a dramatic shift to the rhythms of my home. I am a doing person and thus feel a strong draw into the garden and yard, into parts of the house I was too busy to attend to during the school year. However, as the heat rises, my doing slows down. The clarity of my thinking becomes a little softer and fuzzier, and I succumb to the delight of the breeze in the surrounding brightness of the world. I dwell in the space that has been created by the absence of mandatory meetings and work, and become a bit more spontaneous. I relish in this quality of the season because I am also a visionary.

When I surrender to the quality of summer, my visioning and creativity flourishes. I am more present and open wide. Apart from the planning and goal setting that comes with the clarity of winter, I am free to dream and reflect from a different space within myself. Just as I am being filled with the presence of my family, I receive observations, ideas, wishes, hopes.

I consider that this mood also welcomes the type of dreaming one does in visioning what they want to be and do.  As a parent, that might include what kind of parent I wish to be, what kind of family life I wish to cultivate. As I observe and reflect with my  heart open this summer, it would be a good opportunity to gauge where we are as a family. I think now about what I value in a family life, what nurtures and nourishes us, and wonder whether our life is moving along with those intentions. With this type of grounding activity, I can reach beyond the ephemeral beauty of the season and use its gifts to deepen the experience of what is lasting.

Feeling this same impulse several years ago, I took Mary O’Connell’s on-demand online LifeWays course, Creating Your Family Culture: An Elemental Approach. In it I took a journey of evaluating and intentionally crafting a family culture that directly reflects my spouse’s and my values. She says:

“Culture created by default tends to produce mediocre results because we humans have a natural tendency to take the path of least resistance… Habits and practices creep in that aren’t ones we would consciously choose… If you want a positive family culture that reflects your values, you must consciously create it.  It requires daily investment, especially at first. It is worth the effort!”

–Mary O’Connell

Indeed it is worth it; and once the work was done of identifying exactly what we desired in a family culture, I found it easier to maintain. We always have a clear picture in mind to redirect back to when a full life leads us astray. 

When we touch base with our values, we often must begin with our home rhythms. In turn, I evaluate how these shift and flex to meet the changing needs of our family from season to season and through the years.  Kerry Ingram with Community Supported Postpartum (formerly known as Mothering Arts) developed an on-demand online course for LifeWays that is perfect for this, too. Healthy Home Rhythms walks participants step-by-step through creating a rhythm that meets their family as it grows. 

“Creating a home rhythm is a healthy practice for your family life that creates roots and celebrates your unique family path. Through establishing a rhythm in our life, we create familiar experiences for our children, which give our children (and us) a sense of belonging, safety, well-being, and predictability. Out of those feelings grows inner freedom.” 

–Kerry Ingram

Both courses connect beautifully to each other, and both are always available on the LifeWays website, as well as the opportunity to deepen the development of family culture with little ones through Living Arts Through the Seasons. These three courses are affordable and accessible for work at your own pace so that you can easily fit them into life while still being present to your family. We would love to have you participate, to join us for our many other course offerings, or to send us feedback on what course opportunities would support you best as a parent!