I have to admit that over the summer, I had many, many moments of envy. Not all-consuming jealousy or want-to-tear-their-eyes-out rage. Not even the kind of envy that lingers. Each instance lasted for just a few seconds, but it was there nonetheless. These moments came each time I took a few minutes to pause and steal a quick look at Facebook. No, it wasn’t the traveling, or the shopping, or the amazing photos. It was even more basic than that – I was envious every time someone posted a picture of themselves by the pool. Yes, I said the pool. People had time to lay by the pool. Some even had time to get IN the pool! How could they do that? How did they find the time between laundry, housecleaning, work, driving children around, etc. to even sneak into their room and put on a bathing suit, not to mention make themselves that delicious looking cocktail, and lounge by the pool? Some of them even had books on their laps or on the table beside them. That was serious pool time!
Here’s the thing – we’ve had our pool for several years, but for the past two summers, I haven’t even gotten my toes wet. Every day I look longingly out the window and think, Today I will find the time to get into the pool. By bedtime, the pool is the farthest thing from my mind. At least it was, until a few weeks ago. Remember that fabulous vacation I wrote about? The one to Canada that was such an awesome family adventure? Did I happen to mention how it ended? Nope, I spared you the details of the last few days when I walked around with a fever and a general feeling of something getting a hold of me. On the fourth day of my fever, while in Niagara Falls, I awoke to discover that despite no previous signs of a sore throat, I had strep that had gone systemic. Yes, giant spots covered my entire body, and Ken had to rush me to the nearest urgent care. Fast forward to the following week when I happened to mention to the pediatrician at Katie’s physical that the spots would not go away.
The doctor took a quick peek and said “Spend 10 minutes every day outside in the sun exposing your body to the rays. They’ll dry up and go away.”
“What about the pool,” I asked. “Would the chlorine help?”
“Absolutely,” she replied.
Willing to do whatever it took, later that day, I put on the new bathing suit that I bought at the beginning of the summer and had never even worn and quietly went out to the pool. The water was warm and so soothing. At first I just immersed myself in the luxurious liquid, and then I began swimming some slow, easy laps. After a few minutes, I remembered just how much I love to swim. I mean, I really, really love to swim. I began doing different strokes, racing back and forth from one side to the other. Then I just floated atop the water, letting it wash over me as I closed my eyes and relaxed in the glow of the late afternoon sun. After about 30 minutes, I reluctantly dragged myself from the pool to go in and get dinner ready.
When I walked inside, Rebecca looked at me in surprise. “You were in the pool?”
“Yep,” I replied with a smile. I repeated to her what the doctor told me and then added, “This is the best prescription I’ve ever been given. I wish my doctor would refill this at the beginning of every summer.”
“Mom,” Rebecca said, “you know, you can prescribe it to yourself. You deserve to enjoy summer, too, and to get in the pool every day if you want to. Nothing bad will happen if you take some time for yourself every day.”
Ah, the wisdom of a collegian. As her words sank in, I realized she is absolutely correct. Aren’t we always hearing about taking time for ourselves and paying attention to our own needs? That seems so selfish to me! But I can tell you, for the rest of the summer, each time I stepped out of that pool, I was in a better mood and felt more relaxed and ready to get back to whatever task awaited me. The pool was good for my mind, body, and spirit (and by the way, the spots were miraculously gone in just a couple of days).
So I’m trying to remind myself each day, whether it’s an hour at the gym or a long, relaxing lunch, I’m going to take just a little bit of time for me. So attention everyone I’ve ever promised to meet for lunch, I’ll be calling you to set a date. We all deserve to prescribe some time each day to do something for ourselves. I’ve realized that if I slow down and take just a few minutes for myself, everyone around me will benefit, including me.
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.