“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

For the weeks leading up to July 4th, I said to my family, “Let’s do something. Let’s go somewhere.” My husband had unplanned days off and I thought it might be nice to escape the triple degree heat of the desert. We discussed several options, but ultimately decided to spend our days at home.

The rhythm of our moments were composed of the everyday. We lingered at the house – taking long naps, reading books and watching movies. Our routines were intact, I enjoyed a few morning runs when temperatures were bearable, while my daughter practiced tennis during the evenings. My husband managed to squeeze in a few basketball games and we also had a chance to get together with friends. We weren’t jetting to a new destination or perusing the streets of an unfamiliar city, but savoring the every day.

This time allowed me to reflect about my word of the year, pause. What does pausing look like in my life? Am I doing it enough? Or am guilty of hurrying through the moments without yielding to the unfolding? It is easy to stumble into a life of moving from one second to the next, without realizing the larger context of what the details mean. The time with myself and my family confirmed how I’ve got some work to do in trying to sink into embracing the present – which also means pausing to identify what means the most to me. I’ve learned that sacrificing my nonnegotiables – sleep, exercise, routine, solitude and family – leaves me irritated, empty and unfulfilled. Staying at home and relishing these kind of moments offered a much need reminder: pausing requires welcoming more of what I know fulfills me and saying no to activities that leave me feeling empty. Sometimes it isn’t an easy call to say no, but in midlife, I am learning it is this word that offers a reliable window to allow for a pause.

As we watched fireworks in our neighborhood, I found the ending of our long weekend a tribute to our family time together. We walked to the end of our street, paused as we unfolded our chairs and the three of us viewed the fireworks in silence, with an occasional, “Did you see the sparks on the red one?” This quiet camaraderie, the rays of light shooting in the sky, the ease of the familiar offered a space of comfort and beauty.

The holidays still mean embracing everyday life for me.