I’m about a week into my summer now and, even though my daily routine has changed, it’s important to find those moments for focus, simplicity, and tranquility.

Here are a handful of things I’ve done in the last week in pursuit of a greater sense of Zen:

1. Creating.  Each morning I’ve spent time writing.  I’ve started a new book (and in the coming weeks will have AWESOME news concerning the book length version of The Zen Teacher).

2. Observing Rituals. For the third year in a row, my daughters and I have designated Wednesday as Ice Cream Day.  Each Hump Day I take them down to the local Rite Aid and we hang out in front of the store talking and eating ice cream.  Even though it doesn’t cost much, it has become a small, but very special ritual that we all look forward to every summer.

3. Practicing Non-doing.
I’ve made time to sit on our back patio and look the trees, listen to the birds, and watch the squirrels as they chatter among themselves on the hillside.  I’ve also been Netflix-binging on The Dick Van Dyke show, a favorite of mine from childhood, which still holds up, is still hilarious, and has once again re-ignited an age-old crush on Laurie Petrie that, by my count, started around the time I was six or seven.

4. Meditating. 
Paradoxically, in the less structured schedule of summer, I’ve had a harder time to remember to stop, be still, and just focus on my breathing, so those moments when I do remember take on even greater significance.  But it’s so helpful when I do.

5. Increasing My Space and Simplicity.  I cleaned my room.  And if you had any sense of my summer propensity for laziness, you’d know what a monumental achievement we’re talking about here.

6. Enjoying Art.  I have been feeding my soul by reading (even if it is for the summer school class I’m teaching, the books have been excellent), listening to music that speaks to my heart and soul (mostly classic rock, as you know), and taking time to appreciate God’s artwork in Nature (not the least of which was many days of walking out on my driveway during the gorgeous summer dusks just to see Jupiter and Mars sitting right next to a gorgeous moon).

My personal financial situation and personal schedule doesn’t really allow me to travel (though I’m living vicariously through my teacher peers from my school, some of whom are posting pictures from places like Paris, Washington D.C. and, closer to home here in San Diego, Big Sur), but part of my message here is that it isn’t always necessary to travel thousands of miles to experience peace and relaxation or to rediscover a sense of renewal and rejuvenation. Those experiences might be as close as the easy chair in your living room or the lawn chair in your backyard.

So during this change in schedule, obligations, and routines, please remember to carve out some “you” time so you can give your best back to the world and the people you care about.

Happy summer to all my teacher peers!*  TZT

*I know some of you are in year-round schools, so happy break whenever that may occur for you. . .