Life After Labor Day

by Joanie Butman

A season of new beginnings would be incomplete without a few resolutions. Like I said last week, September is New Year’s in our household, which comes with a certain amount of good intentions – the most famous being the promise to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Life After Labor Day has long been an expression of my husband’s to describe the beginning of yet another fitness regime. I even had cozies made up for him one year. The concept is that he can be decadent all summer, but once Labor Day rolls around, he becomes a model of self-restraint. He always tells us that we won’t recognize him by Thanksgiving. We have a closet full of infomercial exercise equipment guaranteed to bring about that Life After Labor Day six-pack. Unfortunately, we do recognize him every Thanksgiving, and are still waiting for Bob’s Life After Labor Day physique to emerge.

I am jumping on the bandwagon this year determined to achieve my own version of Life After Labor Day. Though my physique can use the same discipline, my main concern is to restore balance to my life in every aspect:  physically, emotionally and spiritually. I struggle every summer in maintaining balance, in juggling demands from family, friends and my own desire for peaceful solitude. Even though I am painfully aware of the dangers of losing balance and how susceptible I am to it, that’s exactly what eventually occurs every summer. In trying to please everyone (including myself), I disappoint everyone (especially myself) in thought, in actions,and in words.

I firmly believe balance is one of the most difficult yet the most important life skills to master. Balance in everything – diet, spirituality, academics, family, career and recreation – is the key to maintaining a happy, healthy life. During the summer, my scale gets weighed down in more ways than one. While my weight scale is going up, my life scale starts sliding downward towards overload in a variety of forms: kids, a seemingly endless supply of relatives (all of whom I adore), guests, parties, parties, and more parties. When the balance is off-kilter, things start to deteriorate rapidly. Picture being on a seesaw and the other person getting off, causing you to land unceremoniously with a crash. This phenomenon usually occurs around mid-August when summer starts to wind down – when the parties don’t seem much fun anymore, and the sun has pickled my skin and seemingly fried my brain. I feel as wilted as the flowers in my garden.

This year has been particularly difficult because I didn’t have long stretches of lazy days by the ocean. They came in brief snatches rather than being able to settle into the rhythm of life on the beach. It feels as if I spent much of the summer in the car trying to accommodate opposing family schedules and obligations. My ocean view was replaced with reading bumper stickers, license plates and truck signage. I know every truck logo along the Northeast corridor. I feel like my butt has permanently molded to the shape of the driver’s seat of my car. Hence, my enthusiasm in joining Bob in his pursuit of new, improved versions of ourselves.

Bob’s Ab Flex might help with tightening up some long neglected muscles, but infomercial gadgets won’t provide the solution to my much needed Life After Labor Day conditioning. God will – not only after Labor Day, but any day I ask. How do I know this? Because He’s been doing it for years. I just need to be still enough to let His peace saturate my soul. It is there I will find my balance once again by letting my ballast do what He does best.

The Dixie Chicks’ song, Easy Silence, comes close to describing the Life After Labor Day workout routine I choose.

And I come to find a refuge in

the easy silence that you make for me

It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me

And the peaceful quiet you create for me

And the way you keep the world at bay for me,

the way you keep the world at bay for me.

I choose to train each day in Easy Silence – it’s gentle on the muscles as well as the soul!