You can stretch right up, an' touch the sky,
When the weather's fine, you got women, you got women on your mind…”
When I was a younger diva the opening strands of this one hit wonder by the early 1970s pop group Mungo Jerry always put me in the mood for summer. I was barely six years old when it was released and never understood the lyrics of the song but for each summer as far back as I can remember, this little ditty set the stage for long golden days of playing, hanging out and doing nothing.
I know that I say a major part of the journey through Mid Life Divadom is moving forward and not looking back on the way things could have or should have been but there is something about the golden days of summer that make me look back with fond memories of the days of girlhood.
When summer time was more about going outside playing from daybreak to sunset without a care in the world and less about worrying, dieting, cajoling and begging my midlife body to slip herself into any semblance of a swimsuit.
Summer was more about hanging out with girlfriends, eating popsicles, not caring what insects were swarming nearby and less about watching that clock on a Friday afternoon while coworkers swarm nearby, their minds already full of the activities they will participate in the minute that clock hits 5:00 (ok, 4:55 on Fridays!)
I remember “chicken walking” high-stepping on the hot sidewalks with bare feet, running out to talk to girlfriends in the hot glare of the sun until our mother’s shooed us inside because of news reports that some kid had been hospitalized with heat stroke.
Flirting with the older boys from “the other block”, not because they were cute, but simply because they were boys.
Riding my bicycle fearlessly with no hands on the handlebars, much to the dismay of my mother. Learning from my brothers how to pop the perfect wheelie on my bicycle, something other girls in my neighborhood never learned – or maybe never wanted to learn – to do.
Sneaking inside to listen and dance to the “forbidden rock music” on the radio the second my mom left the house for a church meeting. Or sneaking away with my bag of books borrowed from the library to sit and read action novels in my solitary hideout under the neighbor’s manicured forsythia bush.
Pretending to camp outside in the neighbor girl’s tent until her one-eyed cat Cricket decided to jump against the side of the tent in his manic quest to “get the bug”. I never did find out why that cat had one eye…
Playing outside until I smelled like the outside. Trying to sit still as my mother brushed then washed sticks and whatever else from my hair before bed. Drifting off to sleep at night, cotton sheets thrown off, windows open, with the old box fan whining and groaning in the background.
Days stretching on forever as we simply lived. I know it is cliché, but all good things come to an end. Summers eventually stretched into real life with the start of school in the fall, and then into grown up life.
Life was simple then, there was no need for so many bells and whistles. Summers were simply about uncomplicated, unfettered joy.
As I continue on my Mid Life Diva journey, I find myself longing to recapture this joy. Not my youth – heaven’s no! Once on that ride is more than enough! I look for ways to be able to tuck joy-full moments into the corners of my everyday life.
I have a good friend who seems to have harnessed the knack of capturing pure joy. Believe it or not, she accomplishes this feeling simply by enjoying a good meal. Upon receiving her meal, my girlfriend takes off her glasses and slips her feet out of her sandals. With the first mouthful, she closes her eyes, savoring every bite. She is in Nirvana. When I asked why on earth she removes her glasses and her shoes when she is eating, her reply was simple. “I just want to twinkle my toes.” Nirvana, for my friend, is simply twinkling her toes.
I think that what is in order is a summer break for Mid Life Divas. Too many of us no longer find pleasure in our routines of jobs, kids, parents and everything else that makes up a life.
My proposed summer breaks would include the following: go outside, away from the television, the telephone, even for a few minutes.
Enjoy a Popsicle, even if you have to fend off a few bugs. Twinkle your toes in the freshly cut grass. Give yourself permission to rest. Let go of the caretaker role – if only for a minute or two. Find yourself a figurative forsythia bush to sit under, hide there whenever you need some quiet time, and calm your nerves. Break away; develop summer rituals that celebrate you.
Indulge in the things that make your happy, beauty, love, peace, sunsets, music. Reclaim the things that bring you joy. Move joyfully, if you feel like dancing, skipping, singing – do it.
Whose business is it really? Don’t wait for someone else to give you what you need. You are everything you need right now.
Remember these golden Mid Life Diva days as some of the most joy-full so far. Sit back, regroup, rethink. And don’t forget to twinkle your toes.
Mid Life Divas, how are you “twinkling your toes” this summer? How are you being kinder to yourself? Got a comment about the column or just want to share some words wisdom with other Mid Life Divas? Share it with us! Tell us what you want to talk about in future columns.