5 Things I Learned This Summer

I have always had a love hate relationship with summer. The heat and humidity remind me of all the things we cannot do because of our blisters.

But I love the freedom from schedules and commitments that affords me endless time with my boys. I view that as sacrosanct. So I tend not to write much in the summer. And as much as our summer has been what it always is – a lazy conglomeration of quiet mornings, big adventures, and total spontaneity – there were plenty of very important things I learned.

1. Day 10

Day 10 is the day on your vacation that can break you–no matter how great your trip has been, no matter how much you love your people. Day 10 is the day you just can’t even anymore.

On our Griswold family European vacation, Day 10 also happened to be 98 hundred million degrees. Which is bad enough in the States but 98 hundred million times worse with European fake air conditioning and having to beg for more than one ice cube for your 98 degree Diet Coke. Day 10 was the day after a terrorist drove a car filled with explosives into a police van two blocks from where we were standing on a Paris street corner with our two little boys.

Day 10 can break you. Or. Or you can give Day 10 the proverbial middle finger.

You can order 98 hundred million desserts at 4 in the afternoon and eat all of them and laugh so hard you can’t physically stop.

Every vacation has a Day 10. Sometimes every week has a Day 10. It’s not the day that matters – it’s just the feeling that you are out of patience, out of smiles, out of everything.

Day 10 is the day that can break you. Or it is the day that you break back.

European vacation family paris

Always. Break. Back.

2. I can survive without coffee until 12:13pm.

Go ahead. Roll your eyes. But until I had to have surgery, I haven’t started a day without coffee since, well, never. I went 7 hours. 7 whole hours. And I didn’t punch anybody.

I also learned that general anesthesia makes me sound like a drunk girl at a sorority party. Apparently I kept repeating “I just love you guys” over and over and over.

3. Words Matter

Last month Scary Mommy shared the article I wrote about seeing ourselves the way our children see us.

Scary Mommy a picture my son took changed my idea of body image

It is one of my favorite articles but what I loved most of all were the pictures that women from all over the country shared in the Facebook comments. Pictures that they had previously dismissed as ugly and relegated to the trash bin. But instead they shared them with the world because they decided to view the beauty that their children saw in them instead of the flaws that made them wince.

You guys I was overwhelmed. And grateful. I may not have a million viewers. I may not make a dime off my writing. But success, to me, isn’t numbers. It’s those small moments when we share a piece of our soul – a piece of our heart – with another human being. And they share theirs right back.

4. Be Uncomfortable

For 4 weeks, I spent my Tuesday nights in Kate Thomas’ watercolor class at The Corner Gallery being massively uncomfortable.

I am no artist. Hell, I can’t even stay inside the lines in a coloring book. And the Type A/first child/lawyer in me gets anxious when there isn’t one “right answer.” So art is way outside my comfort zone.

But the writer in me knows that the absence of a right answer is the beginning of something great.

The greatness isn’t in the finished product (clearly). It’s just in trying something new. In being uncomfortable. In being someone you thought you weren’t.

Corner Gallery kate thomas watercolor art class norfolk

Be uncomfortable. Fail. And do it again.

5. Love Never Ends

The other day, I received this painting from a family friend who was moved by this post I wrote last July about the orange dress and my dad’s funeral.

Jim bickford art

It is hanging in my living room with the chairs from my dad’s office I recovered in blue and orange, reminding me always that love never ends…

Thank you Jim Bickford for this amazing gift and for sharing a little piece of your soul with me. ❤

And thank you to all of you for loving hard…


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