It’s amazing all that can happen in a summer. Or all that hasn’t happened in a summer. Or all the summer experiences I’m about to cram into the 5 remaining weeks of summer.
These past few months have not been an easy ride for me. I’ve been interning at a video production studio, working at an outdoor outfitters, filming/editing wedding videos, and taking online classes. Whew! Seeing all that typed out just exhausts me! And somehow, I’ve managed to balance it. Not without a few breakdowns and lessons learned.
So with one class wrapped up, another one about to close, and an internship coming to an end, I wanted to record a few thoughts I’ve formed from this summer. Nothing too deep or sentimental, but maybe a rare dose of practicality that I’ve acquired (and will probably soon forget and have to relearn all over again. The holy cycle of relearning, right?).
Lesson #1: Learn to wake up. Don’t laugh. It’s an art. A discipline. A torture. I have yet to accomplish this thing called “early rising.” Every morning this summer my alarm has gone off and I look at it wearily, throw the watch across the room, and roll over, thinking I’ll just sleep five more minutes. HA! Ya right. An hour later, I get up, mad that I’ve messed up my schedule and starting off the day on a sour note. So, dear friends, I’m saving you the hassle of a rough start: learn to wake up. Call a friend to meet you for an early morning run. Set 3 alarms. Mentally (or literally if needed) yell at yourself to get out of bed. Buy a parrot and train it to squawk “good morning” at 6:30 a.m. Do whatever it takes! And then call me when you’ve mastered this art. Because I definitely have not.
Lesson #2: Exercise. I honestly think part of what has kept me sane through all the busyness and work was my early morning runs or bike rides or gym workouts or, on the really crazy days, the 20 minutes of some form of high intensity cardio, preferably outside. It’s hard to tell myself to drop everything right when I’m beginning to think the world is going to end and grab my running shoes for a short sprint up hills in my neighborhood. But the hard sweat and muscle-ache does miracles. I feel refreshed and able to think again when I return back to my work. I’ve found several helpful workout websites as well over the summer. Here’s a workout that I’ve been doing on the crazy days.
Lesson #3: Risk your life. Ok, I’m not advocating jumping off a cliff (or at least jump with a parachute, and if you feel called to do this, please call me and I’ll come film you! And maybe join!). What I do mean is go do something adventurous that’s out of your comfort zone. This summer I got more into kayaking and drove up to the Ocoee river by myself for a 3 day paddle school. There are definitely some crazy stories from that weekend (there may have been a night run), but overall it was awesome! I met new people and put myself in a bunch of uncomfortable situations that made me work hard, think quick, keep my cool in tight spots, and learn a new sport that I’m now addicted to! Paddling bigger water made me push my limits and comfort zones and forget about everything else in life. When I was in a rapid, all that I could think about was getting through, leaning forward and pushing my blade through the water, bracing when a wave threatened to pull me down, and rolling back up after a flip. I couldn’t think about all the work I had waiting for me at home. It was mind clearing and therapeutic. I came home refreshed every time.
Lesson #4: Don’t resist your mother. If you resist her prying into your life, she only pries more (Yes, I’m dead meat now. Mom, just keep reading). This summer has not been the easiest, not just with work, but also with relationships. I’ve had a lot of processing to do with life back in America, going to a small, Baptist college, finishing the hardest semester of my life, and now semi-working in the real world. Oh, and did I mention I graduate in a year and jump off the high cliff of my childhood through college years into that real world? *gulp* As the summer progressed, I built walls between myself and my mom. Even now, I’m not sure why. My mom and I have always been close, so these new separations between us weren’t easy. I didn’t want the walls, but I didn’t know how to tear them down; I couldn’t open up to her. She saw the walls and the pain I was going through, but had no idea what was going on, so she pried. She kept asking questions, and I kept pushing her back. It took us a few months to work through to each other, but with what I believe was the help of the Holy Spirit, we were finally able to break through the brick and mortar and fall crying into each other’s arms. It was beautiful. I cherish my mother so much, her heart, her love for the outdoors, her willingness to help out, and even her complete goofiness that always comes out in public. She’s pretty awesome, and I’m blessed to have a mom that I can connect with and spend several hours at the pool simultaneously frying in the sun and having good conversations with. I wish we hadn’t had to go through so much pain, but through the discomfort and then sudden reconnection, I saw that God never let me go through all of it. When I was hurting and blocking the world out, He was still holding onto me. It was His grace that broke the tensions between my mom and I. Once again, by his mercies, I have been set free. I have a shallow heart with short term memory loss, and often forget that I am loved by my Father and that He cares about the relationships in my life. I am thankful that I have been able to see God’s grace through the pain this summer.
Lesson #5: Learn to say no. You would think it’s easy. Just two letters. N… n… n… (deep breath) o. No. No. Nooo. The problem with this summer was that I didn’t say no enough. I said yes to a few big things that I didn’t realize would take up so much time, and in saying yes to them, I said no to things like reading a good book in a hammock, hanging out with friends, a decent nights sleep, time to think and reflect. This problem isn’t new for me. I’ve gone 90 to nothing since I could crawl. I’m terrible at over committing. I see a need and feel like I have to fill it. I see a fun adventure and I hate to miss it. I want to be able to balance a full schedule but also have time to read a book on the couch. But I can’t do it all. It’s exhausting! Who do I think I am? Superwoman? As my failures have shown me, I’m not. I can’t handle everyone’s needs. I can’t control other’s emotions and situations. I can’t participate in every adventure. All I can do is control myself and my emotions and my schedule (and sometimes not even that). Saying yes over and over is detrimental- to relationships, emotions, and health. It burns you out and chokes the life from you. Joy is lost and weariness takes over. I’ve learned that the hard way once again. Knowing me, I’ll probably burn myself out a few more times till I really get the lesson, but after this summer I feel like I have learned more about the need to have time to yourself and how saying yes to one more thing says no to something else.
These are only a few of the lessons I’m beginning to put to words from this summer. They are humorous, tear-stained, practical, and valuable. Some of them have been really hard to learn. But the lessons are valuable ones I hope to store away for my senior year of college and the rest of my life. This summer, as odd and busy and hard as it has been, has been a summer of learning and exploring- the real world, myself, and new adventures. I’m not sure what to make out of this summer, but it’s not over yet. There are still 5 weeks. And a lot can happen in 5 weeks.