Sunday, August 4, 2013

Just Press “Play”

Emma's 16th birthday beach party
August is here, the kids are starting back to school, and the summer is rocketing toward its inevitable conclusion. As always, I’m sitting here wondering where the time went.

More specifically, I’m kicking myself for all of the projects I didn’t finish.

As usual, I loaded up my “free time” with work: Two books to edit for other authors. Finish the last round of edits on the novel due out in September. Finish the rough draft of my long overdue co-authored project. Outline the third novel in my Song series (before my fans—and my friends—lynch me). Maybe write a short story or two.

Oh, and also? Spend time with my family and my friends. And read books.

Piece of cake to get all that done in 2 ½ months… right?

Yeah. That’s what I thought, too.

Here’s the deal: I did get a good portion of my work ticked off of my to-do list, and I still have some summer left to make more progress. But I won’t finish everything.

Why? Because I played.

What is this word, “play?” See, this is a word we used to know well. When we were little, we went outside at dawn and turned up back home again after the street lights turned on. In the time between, we rode bikes, made dirt castles, explored “forbidden” areas (like the new homes being built down the street—sssh!) and did all sorts of fun things. We played games, swam, hung out at the movie theater, cruised around town. We let the summer days grow long and enjoyed the buzz of bloated June bugs on warm evenings. We lay down on the driveway and looked up at the stars, wondering.

Dad and Zoe, engaging in a little Cubs vs. Angels rivalry
When my kids were toddlers, they “learned through play,” which meant that they went on nature walks and checked out interesting bugs. They discovered colors and textures and cool sounds by touching and squeezing and throwing their toys. They experienced the world by enjoying it, by smelling the flowers and petting bunnies.

I think I did those things, too. But somewhere along the way, I forgot the word “play” and learned the word “work.” Everything became work, and life became organized into little lists with check boxes (I’m looking at one now: “write HoF post”). Even “take girls to beach” took up a line on my list. And every night became a guiltfest as I reviewed the list and bemoaned all of the list items without checks.

So finally, I did something not on the list: I threw the list away.

I took my girls to the beach. We shopped. We lounged in our pajamas. I slept in a lot. I stayed up late. I played way too much Candy Crush. I visited with my friends. I watched softball and baseball games that none of my kids even played. I cheered for the Angels AND the Cubs. We visited a college, Sedona and the Grand Canyon in two days. I spent quality time with my parents.

As it turns out, everything I did (or didn’t do) was really important. Not only do I feel more grounded and connected, more in charge of my life, I also feel like I can tackle the rest of my edits and finish off the rough draft of that novel, no problem. I am looking forward to writing again rather than feeling like it’s such a chore that I can barely force myself to sit down.

Breaks, as I regularly tell my students when they want to fill their summers with school, really are important.

I’m so glad I finally took my own advice.

How, you may ask, does this relate to reading and/ or writing?

Emma at the Grand Canyon
Because I’m guessing that, if you’re reading this, you’re taking a quick break. Maybe you’re sneaking that break. Maybe you feel a little guilty, because you’re really supposed to be doing something else. Or maybe you’re fine with reading this post, but you just don’t have the time to pick up that novel you’ve been wanting to finish reading, or you just can’t find the time to write.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

On that note, gentle readers, I am signing off as a poster for the next three months. But I’ll be back in December… just in time for another break.

See you then!

~Kim Vandervort


Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Great post, Kim! So glad you had a good summer. We're going to miss you this fall, but I'm sure you'll be plenty busy with the release of OUTCAST. Good luck with all your projects!

Terri-Lynne said...

I love it, and I'm glad you're feeling re-charged. It is so easy to get bogged down in the "have tos" that we never do the "want tos."

I'm being much easier on myself this summer. My boy's injury has forced me to let up on the ridiculously full schedule I keep for myself. Like today, I have three hours between dropping him off and picking him up. What am I doing? Well, right now, reading HoF. But when I'm done here, I'm going out to the front porch to read. Why? When I could have a couple of hours to write? Because, that's why. :)

Diana Munoz Stewart said...

Great post! And so true!