Even though school is in full swing, the temperatures remain warm as the calendar winds down on the actual days of summer (its official end is September 21, right?). North Carolina, where I live, is battening down the hatches for Hurricane Florence, bracing for a storm that has grocery shelves empty and people fleeing the coast.
We are two hours from the shore, but our city is also preparing for rain, winds, power outages and the anxiety of the unknown. Pray for those in its path, please.
But I take today – the calm before the storm – to practice Emily P. Freeman’s What We Learned exercise to think back on what lessons summer held. I love lists, so when I discovered her challenge, I knew I had to join! Plus, I think it’s a great practice to evaluate things and doing so on a seasonal basis makes perfect sense.
Here are my top five from the summer of 2018:
1) The bad things you expect to happen don’t always happen.
Last summer was full of some really difficult things – two surgeries, back pain, stomach bugs, stress, disappointment. So this summer, I just kept waiting for the bad to come knocking at my door. But it didn’t – not one summer cold, or sick child, or derailed plans. And I was thankful. I learned that I don’t need to borrow trouble and that the peace of my good God can rule in our hearts in the happy summers and the hard ones.
2) I need a deadline to be productive…lists aren’t enough.
I literally have three notebooks of lists going. Mundane to-dos like make doctors’ appointments and buy flea meds for our dog Lucy. Writing lists and goals. House projects. Books to read. I need to streamline my list making – which, ironically, is also on my list. BUT I realize that I’m a deadline-driven gal. I’m going to have to put dates by these tasks or they will never get done. Maybe I need to get a paper planner. Electronic lists don’t work for me – I need a tangible, physical thing to hold. Buy a paper planner; add it to the list, set a deadline.
3) Even if you don’t finish your bucket list, you can still make awesome memories…and eat ice cream topped with cotton candy.
I wrote an entire blog on this, but I realized that this summer included some undone things and welcomed slow days. You can make memories and laugh…and throw the list out the window. Or do what I did and ensure half of your list includes things that you know you were going to accomplish. See all the grandparents? Check. Pick strawberries? Check. Go to the beach? Check. But sometimes unplanned days hold the best moments.
4) Hospitality doesn’t have to be perfect to be awesome.
One of my goals this year was to open our home more for deliberate outreach opportunities. My mom used to call me “a cleanie” which meant every room had to be guest-ready for people to come in. However, I learned that as long as my toilet is decent (the hall bathroom belongs to the six-year-old boy, after all) and I have coffee on hand, then the door is open. A box of Wheat Thins, coffee k-cups, a quick check of the bathroom and a heart open to fruit-bearing conversations – this is where hospitality begins.
5) I miss yelling AP Style rules through an office wall.
Well, not really, but what I missed was writing, conversations about writing and a community in which to have those conversations that doesn’t think I’m weird. In the spring, I saw a random ad for this thing called hope*writers. I watched a free webinar. I begged hubby to let me join, even though I’m not making any money as a writer right now. And I have learned SO MUCH from this incredible resource. I have met an amazing group of writers at all stages, who share their wisdom, disappointments and unending encouragement. I have met some in person and had conversations about God, writing, community and difficult faith journeys. I also have IRL friends who are starting on this writing path, and the talks have been invigorating and challenging. I’ll take the community any day without the AP Style rules, thank you very much.
You can read other writers’ what What We Learned on Emily’s blog or check out #wwlcommunity on Instagram. So much fun! And maybe write your own list!
Interested in joining hope*writers? Open through September 14!
To my writer friends – hope*writers is open for membership only twice a year. And it just so happens they are open this week (closes Friday night 9/14/2018 at midnight). You can watch a replay of the h*w masterclass on how to be a wholehearted, authentic working writer without selling your soul or self-promoting here for free.
You can also join hope*writers here on my affiliate link (I will get a small break on my membership fee if you use this link – at NO extra cost to you). It’s a small investment with big returns, I promise! The co-founders are involved, wise and offer so much hope for your journey!
Stock photos by Tanya Patrikeyeva, Renáta-Adrienn, and John Schnobrich on Unsplash
I need to make a list like this. We’ve just gone from thing to thing without slowing down. I’m going to sit and write some things as the hurricane slips by us.
Erica Baldwin says
I love it! Emily Freeman links up to these on her website (I think I missed the window this time). But it’s such a great practice! So much life and learning happens without truly marinating on it. I look forward to reading your list!