Friday night specials



For years, I started work early every Friday morning so I could be seated in a movie theater by 4:45 p.m. watching the latest movie release by 5 p.m.  

An early movie, followed by a leisurely Italian meal with great wine were my segue to the perfect weekend. This combo provided me with a simple yet effective transition from my professional world to my personal world, and somehow made my weekends seem longer, richer and more relaxing. My weekends became mini-vacations to me, even if they were filled with chores and other mundane activities, because they always began on a high note.

Part of the effectiveness of my habit was I had a plan, which gave me something to look forward to each and every weekend. Even something as simple as movie and dinner can feel fantastic, if you love them both. Never underestimate the value of having a plan, especially a fun one.

Another positive aspect was my plan was easy to execute. Dinner and a movie were doable without a great deal of effort and fanfare. (I know movie and dinner out for those of you with young families isn’t easy – perhaps your plan could include family movies and a picnic style dinner on the family room floor. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that it is easy and fun for you, and signals a segue way from school and work to a less structured weekend schedule.)

Last but not least, and maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this, but I did feel a slight bit of added excitement, because my plan included leaving work early. There was something exotic and exciting to me about slipping out before the crowds. I was pretty much a workaholic at this point in my life, and being able to leave it all behind on a Friday night felt oh, so good. Other benefits of my early departure included dramatically reduced traffic and wide-open parking lots. I felt like I was getting away with something, like I was one step ahead of the rest of the world, and in a way, I was. I’m not sure my feeling was completely healthy, but I have to be honest and admit it made my early exit feel a tad clandestine and my activities a bit caperesque – and I liked that!

So perhaps as the summer winds down, creating an exit plan for the fall weekends ahead might not be a bad idea. In fact, designing a Friday night ritual for your last few Friday nights of the summer, might be just the thing to make the summer of 2011 more memorable. Whatever you decide to do, make sure:

  1. You and yours truly enjoy your plan, so it is worth looking forward to;
  2. It’s easy to execute; and
  3. It includes a bit of the unusual and feels like a slight escape from the rules and routines of everyday life.

You may find that crafting the perfect Friday night specials for you and/or  your family is the easiest way to get the most out of each and every weekend.

Have a good one!

Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend.

Got that song in my head.  Can’t get it out.  Don’t know why I am having this particular musical flashback, but it got me dancing, so I figure it can’t be all bad.

It also led me to think about a radio ritual started by Kid Leo, a famous Cleveland, Ohio DJ (1974-1988 – had to look that up), who dominated the airwaves daily on an iconic Cleveland radio station, WMMS.  (I was born and lived in Cleveland until I was 35, please bear with me.)

In the 70’s and 80’s WMMS was well-known for giving airtime to new bands, covering live concerts and later for being one of the driving forces for bringing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to the shores of Lake Erie.

Kid Leo was known for many things, but the one I remember best was his weekly habit of playing Born to Run as his signature sign-off song at 5 p.m. on Fridays.   This sweet little act united and motivated drivers throughout Northeast Ohio (this was a time and place where everyone, who was anyone, listened to FM in the car) by providing us with musical and philosophical weekend guidance from The Boss, “Nobody wins, unless everybody wins.” 

So why am I dragging you down my musical memory lane?

Because even though I now work a completely relaxed and flexible schedule, Fridays still feel special to me (just like the return to school each fall whether or not I am returning), and are the perfect time to create a weekend ritual.

Rituals connect us to each other and act as a bridge from the past to the future by allowing us to honor or recognize moments in the present.  I like that.

They are a formalized version of mindfulness, and they remind us, and tell the folks around us, that we value what we are celebrating. 

Think about starting a weekend ritual. 

Make it something that transports you from one state of mind to another, even if the flow for you from workdays to weekend is flawless, stopping to honor the transitional moment can signal your brain and those around you that you are aware of the value of each.

How do you begin a ritual?  I think of rituals as having three major components.

1. Meaning

2. Timing

3. Activities

Begin by identifying why you want to mark the moment – what do you want to honor or celebrate?

Pick a time and maybe a consistent place, and then decide what you want to do.  Make it simple and easy to recreate, and if you want others to join in, make sure you include them in the planning process. 

Then test it out.  Don’t give-up if the first few times the ritual doesn’t seem to gel, just rework and revamp it until it feels right. Make changes along the way until your ritual becomes something you (or everyone involved) look forward to, is easy to execute and enjoy, and brings you a sense of connection to something larger than life or at least bigger than yourself.

One of my favorite rituals seems pretty silly, but it gave me the feeling of connectedness I was looking for. For years I began my weekend with an early movie, then dinner out. I was out of my office by 4 p.m. (I made sure to start early or stay late ahead of time to make this possible – rituals take some level of planning, which may actually increase their value to you), and was cozily ensconced in a movie theater seat by 4:30 each Friday. 

I was faithful to this practice with or without a companion, but was lucky enough most of the time to have a girlfriend, date or boyfriend join me.  For them it was a fun escape, for me it was much more – it meant that I was taking time to do exactly what I enjoyed doing, in a way I enjoyed doing it – I was celebrating me and the passage of time and the events that had allowed me to be more comfortable than ever being me!  My little ritual led me to many, many other rich and rewarding choices in my life. 

Please do not underestimate the value of recognizing who you are and what you like.  It is the key to creating the life you want. 

So whether your weekend ritual involves the gentle glow of candles, the healing aspects of water, the soothing value of meditation, games with the kids, special foods or treats, or the simple fun of a good movie, make it your own and let it transport you to the place you truly want to be.

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