The other night at dinner, Asher pointed to our chalkboard wall in the kitchen and said, “Does anyone notice something about the calendar, Wednesday through Monday?”

The quick answer: nothing planned, empty days.

“I love summer,” he said, with a big sigh.

It’s not that there was nothing scheduled on those days. A golf lesson for the boys, I had much to do at work, but the general notion was that there was nothing pressing, nothing BIG, and the world was an endless canvas of possibility, so much so that last night as we finished dinner, the kids asked if we could go to the pool and we shrugged our shoulders and said, “Sure!”

Yes, it’s because of summer that we have open days and endless nights due to the fact that the kids can sleep as late as they want. No camps to rush off to, no  homework to complete, no early bell ringing their required attendance.

But this is symptomatic of something bigger going on. Across this country, most Americans are over-programmed and stressed-out. We run from appointment to extracurricular to school to plans with friends to so much more – we can’t even keep up with ourselves.

I never wanted to be one of those parents who over-programmed their kids. But with four kids of varying interests and talents, it seems to be inevitable. I can’t imprison them at home; I want them to have experiences and build skills. And that means running.

One of the things I’ve been trying desperately to achieve is setting my day around what is most important to me. Building a sadhana or practice around my priorities.

For example, it is essential that I start my day with meditation. So there can’t be any running off to an early meeting without that 20 minutes of quiet focus and serenity. I have to plan accordingly.

Another example: I want to eat mostly vegetables and fruits, high-quality foods, not fried, not breaded, not loaded with fat. That means wherever I go, I must plan ahead and make sure I have an avocado on hand or the ability to order broccoli on the side of a salad. There’s not quick burger from a roadside stand – at least not for me – because I know it will make me feel sick later.

And there’s more. It’s important to me to study for my public relations accreditation exam so I have to plan my days around ample study time, either in the morning or at night. I am committed to blogging daily so I can’t leave the house or begin my work before I write.

It is actually freeing to plan the important elements of a life first and let the rest fill in wherever it fits.

It’s not about being anal in planning or strict with time. It’s about focusing on what matters and not letting what doesn’t matter, run you. When your days are filled with the things that make you feel good, that build internal serenity and energize you, life sings.

When you’re constantly chasing the dog, driven by your iPhone and Facebook and other people’s opinions, well, need I say more?

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