Summer lessons

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Yes, we come in at the tail end of the back-to-school season, proudly carrying our backpacks and packed lunches just as everyone else has started to drag theirs. I’ve seen the photos for weeks now, feeling partly anxious to join the flutter and partly blessed with a few more summer days.

I love summer and you’ll never convince me that there is anything better than walking around with bare feet as the sun kisses your shoulders. But I’m also a sucker for a change of season. For a return to routine and a predictable rhythm. For a moment to stop and reflect before charging full steam ahead some more.

Last year I wrote up a little list of things I had learned on my summer vacation.  Naturally, some of those lessons stuck with me and some I’ve had to relearn. But even though a lesson listed here isn’t a check mark on my life list, I still like the idea of recognizing that amidst all of the good and the bad, I’ve grown. So I’m doing it again.

Summer vacation

1. Make a plan. And then break it if you want (or need). But make a plan.

This was my #1 last year too. I’ll probably keep relearning this one. This summer, I planned all of the summer camps and activities that I neglected to plan last year. But we didn’t plan a trip to the beach and ended up craving some sun and sand. This year, I didn’t plan to leave my job or start freelancing but it happened. And from that, I learned that if I don’t approach each week, each day, sometimes each hour with a plan, then I will end my day knowing exactly what all of my friends are doing on Facebook but with not a word on a page to show for my time. 

2. Say yes.

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I started the summer at my first blogging conference. Where every other year I’d said no, this year I said yes. Yes, I will meet the people whose words I read all the time and I will learn something new and I will take that leap. I’ve tried to spend the summer being open to all of the possibilities and opportunities, to change and new things and new adventures. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve let fear take over and I’ve said no and then regretted it. But more often than not this summer, I’ve said yes and I’ve opened myself up to new things, new people, deeper friendships, and all of those have made this summer so very sweet.

3. You need friends. And readers. Really, you need people.

Earlier this summer, I asked for help. I invited people into my words and my process before they were quite ready to be read and seen and I asked friends to read and readers to edit. And they did. And it helped me reach a goal that I hadn’t successfully reached on my own but that felt so sweet when I reached it with friends. You need friends. You need friends to talk to and write with and read to just be with.

4. Bad vacations happen and it’s ok.

They happen. They just do. People get sick. People get cranky. People find themselves dreaming of the beach as they walk around the very non-beachy streets of NYC. Not every vacation will have the magic of Disney World. And that’s ok. We shouldn’t set out to make the best, most amazing, magical vacation every single time we pile into the car or file into the plane. But we should set out to make memories. And if you come home with just one memory that you wouldn’t have made sitting at home, then it’s not really all bad after all.

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5. Emotions need time and space.

Lots of big things happened this summer. And lots of big things lie ahead. I try to just keep moving and running and doing and pretending that I don’t need the time and the space to unpack the big things, spread them out, understand them, deal with them. But I do. I need the space and the time. I need to give my emotions a little breathing room or they will take me over and stop me in my tracks. Look for this one next summer too but for now, as Fall arrives and brings with it the bigness of first days of school and birthdays and who knows what else, I’m going to create a little time and space.

What did you learn this summer?

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Join me over at Mamalode today too where I’m talking about wisdom from a near-stranger that has stuck with me for over a decade.

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