Reflections on a Summer Well Spent

ReflectionsI woke this morning to the haunting moan of a fog horn. More than the chill in the morning air or the maples dropping their russet leaves, the sound of a fog horn signals the change of seasons for me. Every October, the fog rolls in overnight and hangs low over the sea and in the fields until the autumn sun burns it away.  I love waking to the fog horns, love listening to their deep call as I lie warm in my bed.  But they remind me, too, that summer is behind us, that it’s time to dig out the sweaters and boots, and prepare for a colder, rainier season.

Reflections 2Loathe as I am to bid goodbye to summer, fall is a time of renewal for me. Having spent years as a classroom teacher, I’ve come to associate autumn with new beginnings. And this fall is no different. I had a lovely summer spent on the water and on the beach, sailing and camping and kayaking. I was truly in my element. Some weekends, I enjoyed time on the sail boat with Dan, time which was free of pressure or expectation. And some time, I spent, very happily, on my own. It was a summer spent far from internet dating sites, far removed from the pressures of finding a new relationship.

And now, as the seasons change, as Dan and I return, as we knew we would, to our regular lives, I’m starting to think about dating again. I feel rejuvenated by the break. And I feel as though my heart, bruised after Griff, has healed. Dan and I set out to have a break from dating and to have some fun this summer. I can’t speak for him, but I learned a whole lot that I want to carry with me in the next stage of my journey. These are lessons for dating, but they’re also lessons for living.

1. Live for the moment

I can spend ridiculous amounts of time worrying about the future. When Dan and I agreed to have fun together this summer, we both knew that it was a short-term proposition, that once September arrived, the complications of our “real lives” would set in. With the prospect of “long-term” off the table, we were free to enjoy ourselves without any pressure. I didn’t spend hours analyzing where the relationship was going; I didn’t concern myself with when I would see Dan again; I saw every invitation to spend time with him on the boat as a wonderful treat. There was no expectation that we would see each other regularly, that we had to phone or text each other every day, that we had to plan weeks or months into the future. As a result, every day we spent together was a small gift.

In the Moment

2. Create space

So often in my life, I am guilty of filling my calendar so that there isn’t time for spontaneity and there isn’t the space for interesting last-minute adventures. This was the first summer that I had nothing more than a couple of camping trips booked. There were big empty swaths of time where I wasn’t working and where I didn’t have my kids. That’s the kind of empty that makes me feel panicky. But this summer I stayed with the discomfort and left the space open. My plan was to spend the time getting comfortable with being alone – and I did some of that. But having that space in my life meant that I was able to say yes to the last-minute kayaking trip in the Broken Islands, and yes to the weekends exploring the Gulf Islands. When I chose to create openings in my life, interesting people and adventures materialized.

Hornby3. Be yourself

One of the loveliest things about my time spent with Dan was how easily we were able to be ourselves. We weren’t thinking about the other as a potential long-term prospect and so we didn’t feel the need to promote our strong suits or hide our flaws. I didn’t worry about whether some aspect of Dan’s character was going to drive me crazy; I didn’t have to. I could just accept him as he was and enjoy his company. And I felt equally accepted by him. There was no judgement at all and it felt really good. It was such a good way to get to know somebody. Dan is a man for whom I’ve developed great affection and respect.

4. Communicate honestly

OpeningsDan and I talked about what was happening between us all summer long. We started out with a clear understanding of what we were doing and where we were going: “Let’s have fun. We know that our real lives are complicated. We know that it’s unlikely that we’re going to end up together. Let’s just see what happens”. Starting with that clear agreement allowed us both to relax and enjoy our weekends together. At the same time, we knew we might end up in an emotionally deeper place than we’d planned for, and so we stayed open as the summer went on. I always knew where I stood with Dan, and he with me. It was a safe and respectful space to inhabit.

5. Do what you love

I set out this summer to invite into my life those things that made me feel full and whole. I wanted to write regularly, I wanted to spend time in nature, and I wanted adventure. In saying yes to kayaking and to sailing, I was choosing what I most wanted to do with my summer. As it happened, I sailed and kayaked with men, but I was doing those things because they appealed to me. I wasn’t drifting along, fitting my desires in around the edges of a man’s life. I was living my own version of perfect.

Reflections

This is a summer I won’t soon forget. I want to carry it with me, all the good memories, all the perfect moments. And I want to take all that I’ve learned along with me on the next leg of my journey.

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About Sally

Poet, seeker, author, mom. Celebrating the beauty and mystery that surrounds us and learning to trust in the journey.
This entry was posted in Living Deliciously, On Adventure, The Alphabet of Dating, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Reflections on a Summer Well Spent

  1. Beautiful writing! I was there living it through the words. Very wise advice too. Living truly the moment without spoiling it through our mind…

  2. Paul Kinder says:

    What a very hedonistic life you lead Ms Delicious. I do hope your next gravatar image won’t be a pillar of salt 🙂

    • Oh my. Are you suggesting that my actions are immoral? I suppose they might be viewed that way. Or are you wondering whether I’ll continue to move forward without looking back? Hmmmm. 🙂

      • Paul Kinder says:

        Please excuse my dreadful attempt at humour, always a little embarrassing when it backfires. We never know how many days we have left to us, and of those days how many will be spent in good health. The same is true of all those people who are important to us, we never know when we will be parted from them. Life is far shorter and far more unpredictable than we can possibly imagine. The maxim that we should live every day as if its our last could not be more true. It is wonderful that you have chosen to live and to explore the three most important things that we all have in life; ourselves, our relationships, and the wonderful world we live in. Perhaps I’m just envious 🙂

      • I knew you weren’t passing judgement, Paul. I was just having a bit of fun with you, and stepping into my role as a wicked hedonist… There’s a part of me that really likes the idea!

  3. The Landy says:

    With an outlook like yours I’m sure you’ll enjoy many more summers like the one just past…!

  4. Seb says:

    It’s a short life and it ought to be a merry one.

  5. I love being the in the “centre” of the story

  6. You’re going to be the most amazing grandmother. I can just imagine you with your teenage grandchildren by your knee, dispensing advice quite unlike any other!

    • Rose, this is my favourite comment ever! I was laughing out loud as I read it. I remember reading once that every woman should have “a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in old age.” Apparently it’s advice I took to heart! I suspect that you will be a similar kind of grandmother. Perhaps that’s why I like you so much 🙂

  7. jazzminey says:

    What I think is that your summer was well spent. Your pictures are amazing. Your lessons are ones I embrace as well. Whether your find someone or not, I have no doubt that your life will be rewarding because of the lessons you learned this summer.

  8. I just followed your blog as promised, and even at a glance of only a few seconds, I know I’m going to love reading your post here. But that will have to be later, since a certain domestic responsibility can’t wait. But I will be back to read this and then I’ll comment on what you’ve got here.

  9. As the first person to comment said, and I agree with – Beautiful writing! Because your writing here is skillful and talented as the expression of how you experienced your summer, who you are, and who you are becoming. The photos you used also ideally compliment and amply what you have written, and are also wonderful visions of natural beauty even if viewed without your writing, but what you have written makes the photographs even better.

    I can see that in ways you and I are very different people, but I still can identify with all of your thoughts, feelings and experiences so well described here, and what you and I have in common outweighs the ways in which we are different people.

    You wrote “I can spend ridiculous amounts of time worrying about the future.” Me? I have spent much of my life not worrying enough about the future, while lost in an eternal state of “Now” as I enjoyed the immediate and spontaneous pleasures of the moment. But my way of living has a serious downside, as negative consequences can accumulate and take their toll on my quality of living, and on those closest to me, whom I love dearly. My life is an ongoing quest to find balance, and at least I feel like I’m getting closer to finding it.

    But similar to you, I love the Fall in spite of the New England winter that soon follows. I love the coast and the ocean, as well as sailing and kayaking, and I would love to have the summer experience you have had this summer. This year, my summer was good, but I can see that yours was better, and I’m happy for you.

    I also understand your relationship with Dan, since I have also had similar relationships in the past, and how well I understand how relaxed and rewarding a friendship with someone of the opposite sex can be, without sex… and without all the inevitable complications and expectations that can burden and pressure a man and a woman, when a romantic relationship is the goal expected. It can be a wonderfully freeing experience to just be friends, and share mutually enjoyed experiences together, while free of everything involved with trying to achieve a romantic relationship.

    But I also know that some of the most successful long term romantic relationships began as a no expectations friendship that eventually evolved into love, because the relaxed and uncomplicated friendship came first; preparing the way and building a strong foundation in advance.

    Thanks for sharing your summer and some of yourself with us. I genuinely enjoyed your post and I was moved by it.

    • Hello Chris, and thank you so much for dropping by and for commenting at such length. One of the things I love about blogging is the connections we can make with people who are in very different life circumstances, but with whom we still share commonalities. Your observation about long term relationships growing from friendship is so true. I will not be rushing my next relationship along, but rather trying to draw out the friendship stage. (We’ll see how successful I am!)

  10. This sounds like such a beautifully grounded and civilised approach to a summer romance. What a gift… 🙂

  11. Denise Hisey says:

    What an envious summer…you are so fortunate to have figured these things out and actually put them to good use! Thanks for showing us how it’s done!

  12. You’re an inspiration to all of us who are not quite ready to take such a bold leap into freeing our minds and just being. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience of hope. The photos are incredible and compliment this piece perfectly.

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