Every year Summer transforms me. Without fail. More than any other season does. And in ways I can’t anticipate until it’s happened.
Despite trying to live slowly and mindfully, I still find myself each July crawling on hands and knees to the finish line of the end of term. So ready for the change of pace.
On the first day of the holidays this year I looked in the mirror and thought crikey, you’ve got your work cut out this year Summer. Honestly, I looked and felt a bit of a wreck. And Summer winked at me through the window and shrugged ‘no worries, I’ve got this’. And it had. Of course it had.
I’m forever fascinated by the cycles we go through. In the year, in life, as mothers. This time I decided to pay a bit more attention to how we transformed over the weeks. What is the alchemy Summer brings? How does it weave it’s magic so? What could I learn if I paid more attention?
It’s different every year, but here’s what I noticed this Summer:
Good things happen when I go slow and plant myself in the moment
I made a snap decision to switch off for a few weeks. No Instagram, no constantly checking my phone, no taking pictures of absolutely everything. My phone went on airplane mode for most of the day and I often didn’t know where it was. Something I didn’t fully believe I’d stick to at first, but I did. Because I wanted to gaze at the sky or out to sea, to be fully in the moment with my children, to occasionally pick up a book and to let my mind wander. Funny as it sounds, there was luxury in not being beholden to a device. I did all of those things in bucketloads. I even read two and a half books. I know, so unheard of for mothers of small children. My friends looked suitably shocked and awed when I told them.
(Interesting to note that I binged on my phone after the break. Because I love the connections I have through it. But I’m working on a healthier balance).
There are places that feed my soul and light me up
We’ve been to Cornwall the past four Summers. Each year we’re so sure we’ll choose somewhere different the next year. There’s a whole world out there! But it calls to us on the breeze. It’s magnetic pull draws us in. And before we know it we’re heading down the A303, giddy as we move ever closer.
I don’t know what it is. The beaches. The wild clifftops. The energy. The light. That it runs in my veins perhaps, being my adored grandmother’s birthplace. The yearly accumulation of memories. All of that. But mostly that I breathe out more fully there than anywhere. However worn out I feel when I arrive, it restores me entirely, body, mind and soul. Especially soul.
This year it put me into creative overdrive. The confusion I’ve been holding for a while now, about how and when and what my work will look like moving forward, was unraveled as I sat on our favourite beaches and walked the wild cliff paths. The questions that felt like brick walks to bang my head against seemed to answer themselves. In two or three days I understood more than I had in two and a half years about what I should do. Just the weirdest thing. Like I came back home to myself. I can’t even count the number of times I said ‘maybe we should just move here’.
One of my favourite poets is e. e. cummings. His lines about finding yourself by the sea have always spoken to me – and especially so this year, in that place:
“for whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea”
I love my tribe
As if one soul-nourishing trip wasn’t enough, a short while after Cornwall we found ourselves (car packed to the rafters again) road tripping up to Yorkshire for a creative family camp. Oh so grateful for friends who get excited and say ‘we have to do this’ even though we own one tent between three families. It turns out that doesn’t matter when you know lovely people who will lend you their beautiful and enormous bell tents.
We were rained on relentlessly, but it was so good. So many wonderful people with similar approaches to life. One of those life-affirming times where you see you have more in common with people than you have differences.
I find that’s what a tribe feels like. Like you’re in great company, all the time. And I’m grateful to know that feeling. I used to feel the lack of the tribe or the village, a lack that’s so common these days, but the more I’ve followed my interests and the things that I care about, the more I’ve noticed it build. Real true friendships and beautiful online communities, they all add up to a feeling of belonging and I’ve really felt and appreciated that this Summer.
We lift our faces to the sun and move our bodies
It’s an obvious one, but believe it or not, I haven’t fully appreciated it before. Vitamin D and exercise in abundance equals wellbeing. Simply that. We’re an outdoorsy family the whole year round but there’s, of course, a marked difference when it comes to the Summer. Sea swimming, family bike rides, kayaking, long hikes, generally just running around playing. I feel good on it. And it makes me wonder whether I can keep it up as the Autumn rolls in.
Those dreams I dreamed on the Cornish beaches about some wonderful things I could create- they felt tangible and like they were just waiting to spring to life. In fact, one of them did. My wonderful friends, some of my tribe, answered the call to be my test group for an idea I had and I did it! I love them for doing that. And they said such great things about the experience. They gave me a lot of confidence and a desire to take it forward.
Anything feels possible when the warm sun is resting on your back and the sea is sparkling at you. As I journey into September I’m remembering how stretched I already am and how little time I have, but isn’t it always like that? If you wait until you have time you’ll be waiting forever. So I’m remembering to dream the dreams. And hoping to hold on to the possibility of it all.
Because that’s the wonder I have. How do we carry some of this Summer magic into the Autumn and Winter? How do we keep that transformation going, like a gently rolling sea? I guess I’ll try to find out.