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What I Learned This Summer

It’s not quite the end of summer. But the transition from July to August is a quiet reminder that we will quickly be moving from summer to fall. Before we do let’s raise our glass to Summer 2016 and what it taught us.

1. Cheap notebooks make the best journals

I was distressed when I realized my beautiful, leather-bound journal was mostly full at the end of May. We live two hours away from the closest Barnes and Noble – the best spot for journal shopping – and I had to find something. There are many things I love about my town, but it doesn’t offer the best selection of journals. So I grabbed a basic, spiral bound notebook from the local Shop-Co and some brightly colored Sharpie pens as a consolation prize. Since it was such a plain notebook I felt no qualms about using it for everything – to-do lists, note taking, weekly planning, shopping lists, lettering art – in addition to my normal journaling. I have loved this new style of keeping track of the days and am excited to continue in the habit.

2. A little pre-planning can transform an entire season

Rather than living reactively this summer, I took some time at the end of May to intentionally pave a way for this season. I gave it purpose and vision, and though it didn’t always go according to plan I am coming to the end of it feeling like the days were used well and my hopes for the months were fulfilled. I think the primary reason this happened was having realistic expectations and fitting my goals around them, rather than attempting to achieve more than was reasonable. I am excited to approach fall in the same way.

3. Marriages can survive time apart

I don’t prefer it this way – but my husband’s and my schedules have been almost entirely opposite this summer. He’s been gone when I’m home, and then almost as soon as he returns it seems like I’m headed out. As much as I would rather us be traveling together and working side by side all the time, I am thankful we can grant each other the freedom to pursue what we are interested in and I believe our marriage is stronger because of it.

4. Staying in the same house for more than a year is glorious

For the first time in many years I am not spending my summer moving. It is so good to be in one place and not be spending my free time packing and unpacking.

5. As much as I love days to myself, I actually don’t think I could be a hermit

There have been days this summer I did not utter a single word or lay eyes on another human being. And though it was wonderful and I read books and played piano all day, I found myself going slightly crazy. People are good, work is important, vitamin D is vital. (Remind me of this when I’m going crazy from too many people and too much work come September.)

6. Netflix is a worthwhile investment

I grew up without a TV and was always proud to be someone who has never seen this episode of that show. But a good story is a good story, and truth and beauty conveyed – regardless of the vehicle – is worthwhile. So I’m not ashamed to log onto Netflix and watch an episode or two of a good show from time to time. I’m still reading more than I watch, and I don’t even think my brain is dying.

7. Seasons are fleeting and the best way to make them last is by giving thanks

I’ve gotten back in the habit of writing down the gifts of each day. It’s how I start each morning – by reflecting on the day before and noting the moments that made it beautiful. We serve a lavishly generous God – one who gives us extravagant presents like playing large chords on Steinway pianos, waking up to sunshine creeping in the window and the smell of rain wafting through the morning breeze, reading good books that inspire us to live better, and having people in our life to love and be loved by. The more I count, the more I see.

What did you learn this summer? What will you take with you into the fall? Join Emily Freeman and the rest of us as we partake in this soul-refreshing habit of counting what we learned.

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