If you live in Chardon tomorrow’s a big day – the last day of school before summer vacation. Is it me or is everyone feeling a little bit freer already? There’s a new energy around town, charged by the sun on that freak 83 degree day last weekend. Evidence: Matt at Beans is wearing his themed collared shirts this week. There’s nothing more cheering than a grown man in dinosaur print. Kids are definitely acting more rambunctious on the walk uptown from the Middle School. I lost my cool with a couple of them, assuming I ever had it, when I reprimanded their disrespect of people’s property. That the words flowed so effortlessly from my mouth shocked me; the defense of property being a sure sign of adulthood. Let’s just say a fire ignited in my belly I couldn’t extinguish. It felt kind of awesome. I could have lifted a Suburban with the same energy. Thankfully I scored points with my 11-year-old daughter, Ingrid, instead of mortifying her; a 50/50 chance. All over town parents are meeting for final lunches and coffee with friends knowing this will likely be the last time we’re alone with other adults until mid-August. And, all I want to do is walk – everywhere, all day. As in, “Why save teacher gifts for the last day of school? Let’s walk to Buckeye (at 6:30pm) and go get them (even though I already walked there once today).”
For better or worse I look for meaning in everything. I wear myself out with over-thinking yet the occasional epiphany is a dangling carrot that keeps me coming back for more. My assumption is if I can unearth meaning in an experience I can analyze it, reflect on it and leverage it to make life better for myself and others. I think of this as ‘leveling up’ and I’m in serious ‘level-up’ mode. Consequently what I see lying ahead tomorrow isn’t just summer vacation but an opportunity for reflection and future planning – and family fun and adventure and a change of pace, too. One of my favorite non-fiction authors, Gretchen Rubin, in her book Better than Before about habit change, talks about the idea of a clean slate. She says that any beginning, any change in circumstances, can be considered a clean slate and a chance to make a fresh start. This could be a new haircut, a new job, moving, a new baby, embarking on or returning from a vacation, rearranging furniture in a room, joining a club, kids heading off to college, etc. – changes for those closest to us that impact us, changes we make intentionally, spontaneous changes, even unhappy things can signal opportunities for a fresh start. I’ve always thought about going back to school in the fall as a clean slate – for me once upon a time and now my kids – but summer, too, can be a clean slate and intend on maximizing it.
In Chardon where most winters aren’t as mild as this past one seasonality is real. Decisions are made based upon it. If you want a new roof or driveway you have from April to November give or take. In winter home improvements are made indoors. In February we want to go south. In July we venture to Canada. For my husband, Sean, a pilot who flies cargo, there’s a busy season (fall/winter) and a slow season (spring/summer). That I’m able to stay home with our kids means summer vacation has major impacts on my day-to-day; positive ones though come August I’ll somehow discover renewed enthusiasm for packing school lunches, checking homework and the drop-off/pick up routine. I’ve come to appreciate constraints; their ability to spur creativity more than thwart it depending on one’s perspective. Seasons reinforce that there’s a time to embrace certain things and let go of others and getting in the flow of it brings me a sense of peace (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Broadly defined, seasons aren’t just those in nature but also those in life – single life, newlyweds, young parents, being a teenager, adulthood, retiree, empty nester and so on. The trick to maximizing seasons seems to me to be timing; the wisdom of knowing what’s right for us and when the time is right to pursue it. This requires patience. Not my strong suit.
So, this is my current take on summer 2019: it’ll be a recess and intermission – a time to prepare and lay the ground work, to read up, research, reflect, to let go of old behaviors and thought patterns that haven’t served me well, to relax, make plans, make memories, focus on relationships, quality family time, travel and fun. Because come fall – if I’m going to complete my last two architecture exams and finally become licensed it’ll be starting in fall or never (literally a ticking time clock until all my previously completed exams expire), I’d also like to take a writing class and add in a new strength training program. Sean will be heading into his busy season and the kids will be back to school, activities and play dates. Of course as I write this God is laughing. I know. Perhaps most of all I should prepare to be surprised.
Happy summer vacation to all! Hope to see you on the Square and on the beach!
PS. I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before – an insightful and entertaining take on the subject of habit formation, habit change and understanding oneself. I know it sounds like work but this is easily a quality, amusing beach read.