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          As a child, my family did not go on vacations to far away places like Florida or Arizona.  Nor did I take dance lessons, gymnastics lessons, or play sports on a team.  Compared to the lifestyle of a typical child today, including my own children, my childhood would appear quite boring.  However, I have fond memories of the good times I had, and I am making sure my children will have the same types of memories.  In particular, I remember warm summer evenings when I was about 10 years old.  On some evenings, the neighborhood kids would play together; on other evenings, I would amuse myself at home (sometimes with the help of mom and dad).

             When the neighborhood kids got together, we usually played kickball in the street.  Teams would be divided and small piles of leaves or rocks would be gathered to create the bases.  As cars came by, we split into groups on each side of the street and prayed our bases didn’t get swept away from the car passing by.  We argued over outs and fouls, and laughed when someone’s shoe came flying off as they kicked the ball.  There were even a few times I didn’t get called in for dinner, and played until dusk.  That was an occasional treat, as my mother and father usually stuck by our household routines, regardless of what else was happening around us.

             There were times when I stayed home and practiced my gymnastics over and over and over—the cart wheels, hand stands, and walk overs (which I could never get up from!)  Mom and dad would sit on the front porch watching me as they talked quietly between themselves (what did they talk about?)  They’d rate my moves and gently tell me to keep my legs straight as they lovingly watched me.

             The very special times, though, were when we sat on the porch and played hearts.  We competed with each other in a fun way and laughed over our silly mistakes and tricky plays. I can still picture this scene in my mind vividly, and it always brings a smile to my face.

             How can you build these memories with your families, either with your own children, nieces, nephews, neighborhood children, even as a couple, or with a close friend?  It is actually easier than you may think (just three easy steps), and there is a tremendous benefit for you as well.

Step 1:   Find the Time or Create the Time

  • Take a look at your schedule (hopefully you keep a calendar—if not, we’ll discuss that in a future issue).

Step 2:   Are There any Free Evenings, Mornings, or Afternoons?

  •  If you have a free space, Move Ahead to Step 3 and collect your smiles by the armful.

  • Not all family members need to be present.  As a matter of fact, for larger families it is a welcome change to have the time to spend  with just a few of you, to really get to see each other as individuals.

  •  If you are having trouble finding a few hours to “Just Be”, take a close look at the events that are taking up your precious time.

  • Do they fit into Your Mission?  If it does not fit into Your Mission, this may be a perfect time to step back and change direction.

  • I’m sure by this point, you’ve found a few places where you can "pencil in” the time to “Just Be”

  Step 3:   Let Loose, Relax, and “Just Be”

  • This may be difficult at first, it was for me, as my husband is a  “Be’er” and I am typically a “Do’er” and find it hard to relax.  Give it a try and stick with it.   It will become easier with each time you spend “Just Being”.

What’s That, you say? What Do you Do?  Here are a few  suggestions to get you started.

  • Go to the park, and follow the children; let them take you on a tour.  See the park through their eyes.  If there is a pond with ducks,  make up stories about what the ducks are doing or saying.  This could be a lot of fun with a good friend, and even romantic with your true love!

  • Go to the playground; again, follow the children, Do what they Do.

  • Play a game of cards—Go Fish, War, Rummy, or Tinkle (Auntie          Barbara’s version of Gin)

  • Put on some music and have the kids perform dances or do gymnastics for you—or dance with each other.

  • Create an obstacle course using items in your yard—and yes, adults, you must play too!

  • Catch Fire Flies at night

  • Find pictures in the clouds.

         Warm Summer Evenings can be in your life too.  Just thinking about it makes me feel happy, secure, at peace.  Slow down; take a break from the World.  You know the adult phrase: “I wish someone would tell me to take a nap”…Well I’m telling you to take a break.  Try these three simple steps once during the month, and once the following month.  I can hear you laughing already…have fun!

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