What I learned: Summer 2017 edition
As September rolls in, Summer really feels on the way out. I often struggle a bit during this season change because I love summer with every fiber of my being, but I also feel the same way about Fall. If I could enjoy each of those seasons for about six months I'd be one happy gal.
Here in the Midwest, I feel like we're being blessed with a good transition. Summer was sunny and warm, with only a few weeks of that crazy humidity and now we've been enjoying a slow, early start to Fall. (Don't tell Summer, but Fall really is my favorite.)
But I think that as ready as I am to jump into Fall and cozy sweaters, bonfires, and all things pumpkin, I'm just not quite ready to let go of Summer because this one was such a blessing to me. So, I wanted to wrap up my summer in a blog post in hopes that if I write things down, my summer might stick around a little longer. At the end of every season, a Christian author/podcaster I really enjoy, Emily P. Freeman, shares a blog post about the things she learned during that season, inviting others to pause and share their lists too. I'm jumping in with my own things I learned this summer as it was definitely one to remember.
1. The west coast is just as great as I hoped.
On a whim back in April, I booked a flight to the West coast for an eleven-day week trip visiting Oregon, Northern California, and Lake Tahoe. I say on a whim because the person I was going to visit was a anew friend I had met just a few months before via an online writing guild. (Both our families thought the other *might* be a serial killer, but it turned out we're both legit, good humans.) Anyway, I've dreamed of putting my feet in the Pacific since I was 15, and in June, I had the experience. It was magical, and full of wonder, and more than I could've hoped for.
God met me not just on my entire trip, but on the shore that very last night.
I absolutely fell in love with Northern California/Southern Oregon and cannot wait to go back someday. I truly think I left part of my soul there because after my trip and all the dreams I had for so long, I discovered I am for sure born to be a California Girl.
2. writing is something not meant to go at alone.
During those two weeks, I connected with Jenna in deep ways, and we both really felt God drew us together. The more I dive into my novel and all the other ideas I have, I'm realizing I cannot do this thing called WRITE A NOVEL by myself. Jenna has become not only a dear friend, but a dear writing partner who encourages me when I need it and helps me see my writing time/productivity/words in a different light. How I've ever tried to write without a writing partner for so long is beyond me--but also probably why I haven't been very good in my writing routine for so long.
I also spent a weekend in August at my very first SCBWI writing retreat, meeting fellow local writers and sharing my story with my first critique group. It was rough, but also encouraging. I'm discovering the more I write and share, the more I realize even if we writers are introverts, we need each other to get into the heart and soul of our pieces.
3. Putting my phone down has been good for my soul.
I started doing #socialmediafreeweekends back in July to rest, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Now that I'm back at school full time (and my room is a dead zone) I'm not constantly scrolling on my phone, so you think weekends would be a good time to catch up. But you know what? My weekends feel so much more restful, productive, creative, and full when I'm not constantly updating my feed or scrolling. Sure, I might be missing out on some things (and I'm not updating MsLReads as much) but life is happening all around me, while art is happening in my soul. For this season, that's what matters.
I also downloaded an IOS app called Moment that counts my screen pickups, let's me set screen-free time and limits, and also gives me analytics about what I use the most. It's annoying as heck but I love it because it makes me not want to be on my phone!
4. Local Farmers really are our friends.
About a month ago we ordered our very first 1/4 cow from a local farmer at our indoor farmer's market. I committed to the process and then second guessed thinking we couldn't afford it, it wasn't worth it, the typical anxiety-related thoughts I have surrounding bigger decisions/purchases. But then our cow came in and man, our farmer is the best. He gave us a great deal because we've been loyal customers, and honestly they are a great family.
Now I'm second-guessing why we haven't jumped in on a bulk beef order before this season because we have SO MUCH good meat for Fall/Winter for an affordable/better price.
5. Saying no gets easier each time.
I've been practicing the art of saying no over the last year as I try to quiet my too busy life just a bit. I'm a yes girl, through and through, and a type A personalty so saying yes to help out, lead things, volunteer, take a class, teach a class, etc, just comes natural to me. But last year particularly, I learned that I've been over-filling my life for far too long. I come alive when I write, when I get lost in a story, and when I can share stories with others, yet those are the things I often put last in my life. So, I've been working on saying 'no' to all sorts of extracurricular things so I can leave room for my soul to create.
I was pleasantly surprised this summer when I realized it's getting much easier to say no, especially in the sense that I don't have guilt or anxiety over it anymore.
6. sometimes, a job change is good for the heart.
It's no secret that I changed my job this summer, shifting from being a Junior High ELA teacher to a High School English teacher. I was at my last school for three years, and even though I'm a first year teacher again (or so it feels) this change has been good for my heart. To be honest, I'm still struggling with actually being a teacher but I think that's because the big desire of my heart is to just write--so I'm working on it--but also I'm working on learning to find the happy in the here and now. The school I'm at now is such a happier place than where I was before, that my soul feels lighter, even if I am dealing with teenage hormones and drama everyday.
7. I really like meditating.
I've known for awhile that a regular meditation practice would be good for me all around, but like my writing, I rarely made time for it. Just a few weeks ago, I started up something simple: just breathing. I use the Calm app, and it's amazing friends. It offers guided and unguided meditation, breath work, and even sleep stories, and I can't get enough. Slowly, my brain is shifting.
*Side note, if you're a teacher check out the Calm Classroom initiative. You can apply to get the app for free for use in your classroom! I used it all the time in junior high, and I'm excited to integrate it into my high school room.
8. inspiration comes in unlikely places.
This was a summer of travel for us. At the end of June, the hubster and I headed down to Kansas City for the North American Christian Convention. He attended for work, and I escaped with him to write. I'd never been to the city before but promptly fell in love upon visiting, particularly with the KC Union Station. I've had an idea for a middle grade story centered around trains for awhile, but just haven't had the space to work on it yet. Our hotel was just across from the station, and our first day there we headed over just to check it out. I was BLOWN AWAY by its beauty and its history. I wasn't looking for inspiration at all, but I walked away with more for my story idea and warmth in my heart for this new story I want to tell. I know I'll be returning soon, and writing all about it.
9. Decaf coffee is just as delicious.
If you've been following my heart journey, you'll remember I gave up caffeine back in the Spring to see if that was what was causing my PVC's. I'm still not 100% sure about it, but recently I drank a bit of caffeinated coffee just to see and found myself having some of those similar symptoms again. So, it looks like regular coffee might be out of my life for good, but you know what? I don't rely on it anymore to wake up or feel energized. And decaf? You can't taste the difference. So, I guess I'll have my coffee and drink it too.
10. IN-and-OUT burger lives up to it's hype.
I must admit. In-and-Out Burger has been on my bucket list for a bit now, and when I decided to venture to the West coast, one of the first questions I asked Jenna was "Is there an In-and-Out near you?" She laughed and said "Yes. We can definitely go."
So we did. Twice.
And friends, it was all the goodness I had heard about and more. I'll sacrifice gluten for a burger from there any day.
Here's a little tip I learned: go all the way in and order the Double Double, add pickles.
Overall, this summer was a season I needed. It was full of travel, full of friends, full of writing, full of art, and full of heart-growth. It was also full of unexpected blessings and change, but for the first time in my life, I welcomed them. I'm not ready to let go of the sun, but I know more change is coming. The air is full of it, and I really do enjoy my pumpkin spice.
So, today, even if it's not technically Fall yet, I'm tucking summer away for memories and ushering in the freshness of Fall.
I can't wait to see what God has in store.