Happy Summer!

My family and I have recently returned from a trip to South Dakota. We visited the Badlands, Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore, and spent four glorious days in Custer State Park. It was all absolutely wonderful. I believe we enjoyed the only block of 5 days absent rain so far this summer. We experienced both Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore framed in a brilliant, clear blue sky; and, tested our lung capacity on two very challenging hikes.

That is a list of some of the things we did. Now for a list of what we didn’t do.

We did not read or listen to the news once, we did not do anything with our phones other than take pictures and occasionally text family members to let them know none of us had fallen off a cliff, and our daughter was completely screen free as well. This was not a challenge for her, as she is always screen free. Simple point here: it can be done.

The biggest thing I accomplished for myself was that I let my mind go completely free and filled it full of the Black Hills landscape. Each day, while in Custer State Park, we hiked down to Sylvan Lake from the lodge. Stone cathedrals of gray granite shooting up towards the sky, surrounded us. Off to our left, and about 1000 feet below our 6100 feet perch, spires stretched downward in a mountain lake: reflected peaks touching reflected sky.

Many of the Ponderosa pines that are found in the Black HIlls were charred from a recent fire, and were broken at their base, their long trunks stretching across the vast sides of the mountains. Sapling Aspens were everywhere, their leaves dancing in the breeze. I became intoxicated from inhaling the clean, fresh air mixed with the scent of pines. I delighted in the thin slices of shimmering granite that blanketed every path we took. My daughter called it natural glitter.

A week later, my mind’s eye is still calling up these, and many other, images from our trip. I haven’t read much news, and I’m enjoying moments of a simple, clear mind. I’m trying to be selective of how much of the world I allow in daily. I have slowed down. The frenetic pace of life is far away in the mountains. It had been 12 years since I had been out west, and I had forgotten how wonderful this release can be. It is now my hope to hang on to it as long as I can.

I hope for all of you that you can experience something similar this summer. Something that allows you to take a breath, and to slow down. I hope you can give yourself permission to enjoy long, lazy moments, when expectations are removed from you, and you can just be.

Happy Summer!

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