Sometimes you have to unplug. Sometimes you need wide open spaces and no schedule. And sometimes you need to be unavailable by phone.
I recently took the kids to Ohio to see my side of the family. My parents live on Lake Erie and my trio goes nuts over the water. There are parks, and farms, and so much open space. Space to run and space to be a kid. I grew up in a small town, so the people are just as welcoming as the sunset.
And every single time I visit, I think the same thing. Our kids need a little more of this. I am not talking about the aunts and uncles that spoil them crazy when we visit. I am referring to the disconnect. On the lake, everything seems to move slower. More intentional. No one is glued to their devices. Games consist of rolling down the hills, skipping rocks on the lake, and digging holes in the sand. There are no alarm clocks because you wake when birds sing to you. There are no real distractions … no great shopping options and no fancy restaurants. No one to impress in small town America, and that’s magical. We saw firemen hang American flags and planes fly over the lake in a salute to our veterans. We fried the fish we caught in the morning to eat in the afternoon, and went to sleep with lightening bugs in a jar next to our bed. We watched the sun go down and heard the rain make music on the lake. My kids didn’t see taxis, but instead covered bridges. They didn’t have the option of food delivery, but instead bought ice cream cones from the boat marina. You see in tiny towns, simple always wins. Most people still have landlines in their homes and gardens in their yards. You can find a someone making a bonfire and someone else walking to church within one block. It’s exactly as it was when I grew up.
I share all of this with you as a reminder to unplug sometimes. I don’t just mean putting down your cell phone. I mean allowing yourself time to breath. Not feeling guilty for taking a nap. Letting yourself spend a day without worrying about the office or to-do lists. It’s boils down to giving yourself permission to slow down. Just like lake life.
We are all too busy. Too over-scheduled. Too stressed out. We take on too many projects and forget to say no. We rush through our days, only to rush through our nights. We are watching other peoples lives instead on living our own. You don’t have to take a week at the lake to decompress. But you do have to be intentional each day about creating peace within your schedule. Maybe that means taking a vacation day from the office to do absolutely nothing. Maybe that means saying no to working overtime so you can simply take a walk with your kids. Maybe that means hiding the video games and bringing out the board games. Maybe that means inviting neighbors over for dinner or reading a book at a park. Maybe that means going to bed, before simply falling into bed.
I guess in some ways you could argue, small town people have no idea what us city folk are missing. But if you ask me, small town people have figured it out already. And maybe we should ask ourselves, what exactly are WE MISSING?