I’m occasionally (okay, often) guilty of the Terrible Too’s, a wonderful term I learned from the running world

“Of course, your goal is to avoid injury. Runner and sports podiatrist Stephen Pribut, D.P.M., warns runners to beware the “terrible too’s”—doing too much, too soon, too fast. Every research paper and every expert agrees that this – ‘training errors’ – is the number one cause of self-inflicted running injuries. The body needs time to adapt from training changes and jumps in mileage or intensity. Muscles and joints need recovery time so they can recover and handle more training demands. If you rush that process, you could break down rather than build up.”

Metaphorically speaking, this applies to more than running. This April I tried to implement some changes in my life much too quickly. And then I broke down because it was too much, too soon, too fast. In part because doing too much, too soon, too fast is a full time job – a job that quickly squeezes out everything else that grounds, connects and fuels you, which just hastens your demise. In the end, you’ve succeeded at neither the new thing nor the familiar things. And that is supremely the shpoopy. Lesson learned (again).

Those lessons have implications for my approach to the coming months (a conversation for another day), but right now it’s really hampering celebrating the Delights of April. Because I have almost no notes. Because I kinda abandoned my planner. Because: Terrible Too’s.

That doesn’t mean the month wasn’t at least somewhat delightful. But it is a blur. Here’s what I can say was delightful.

  • the arborist who pruned our weeping cherries also happens to be amongst the internationally top-ranked in this badassness
  • two celebrations of true love
  • no cavities! (amazing how much I still want a sticker for this)
  • and the gorgeous hawk at the feeders (also badass)

Do I wish there was more? Yes. But all I can do is practice discipline in the way I learned from Susan Piver:

“At its heart, discipline is simply coming back.”

Susan likens discipline in any activity to bringing one’s focus back to the breath in meditation. When your attention wanders, as it naturally will, you simply bring it back to the work at hand. So in welcoming May and summer, I am once again reminding myself to slow down and bring my focus back to what delights me. And what a lot there is on my near horizon to attract and hold my focus…

Hello May

May opens today with May Day, which appropriately celebrates the beginning of summer with bouquets left on doorsteps.

It is also International Workers Day, which has its origins in the labor union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. And summer is the perfect season to be reminded to keep a balance between work, play and rest.

Along with May Day, the coming month also includes celebrations of Beltane and Shavuot. Cinco de Mayo opens a non-stop series of waterfront festivals here in Portland that doesn’t end until fall. It’s the month of our annual neighborhood parade and the first of a summer-long series of community bike rides. There is also Victoria Day and Memorial Day. Mother’s Day (and my dad’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Dad!). Many graduation days. Here in Oregon, we also have an Election Day. And this Wednesday, may the force be with us on Star Wars Day.

It’s the first month of being outdoors as much as possible, soaking up the warmth of longer days and all the blooming beauty (mainly peonies and roses, as well as yet more plants I don’t know the name of…). Soon it will be time to flip my day upside down to handle “hot” activities like exercise and baking in the cool of the morning instead of the afternoon. And it’s already time to work – make that play – with the constant summertime urge to play hooky rather than try to resist or quash it.

And in the Christian liturgical calendar, May 15 marks the beginning of Ordinary Time, a period that stretches from Pentecost to Advent. The term “ordinary” originates from the same root as the word “ordinal” and in this sense means “the counted weeks”, but the name also refers to the weeks that simply don’t belong to a proper season. I love the notion of Ordinary Time. It speaks to me of a season for being rather than doing, for taking pleasure in the Here and Now, for celebrating what you have rather than striving for what you don’t have. It’s just more… relaxed. And that’s pretty much the definition of summer.

Be Here Now

Since being able to take pleasure in the Now contributes a great deal to a positive relationship with Time – and life is about more than our projects and maintenance routines – before diving into What’s Next, let’s say Goodbye to April by thanking it for its awesomeness (even if it is a blur) and say Hello to May by choosing how we want to honor and celebrate what makes this particular moment in time unique and enjoyable.

While I find what surrounds me this time of year inherently rewarding – it doesn’t need to be celebrated, it is the celebration itself – the one thing that makes being outdoors even better is a cold fizzy drink (I don’t know why carbonation is a seasonal thing for me, but it is). Now, of course I could buy amazingly unique and delicious fizzy drinks. But I think it would be more fun to experiment with my own syrups and establish an afternoon “cocktail” hour to celebrate the work of the day. Ahhh…

What are you saying Hello! to this month?

What kinds of celebrations are your natural and cultural world suggesting to you right now? What comes around this time of year that you don’t want to miss? What special activities or changes to your surroundings would help you to feel more present and whole, and to slow down and savor the passage of Time?

I’d love to hear what delighted you in recent weeks, what makes the coming month a unique and enjoyable time to you, and how you want to honor and celebrate May. Please share your experience in the comments below or send me at note at hello [at] thirdhandworks [dot] com.

Peace and love – and happy May!