Summer Lost (or Summer Gained): It's how you slice it.

I didn’t have a summer this year, and I feel sorry for myself. Maybe you can relate. Here’s what I didn’t do that I usually do:
Visit family
Go anywhere beachy
Ride my horse in the woods (cardinal sin)
Go to the County Fair
Go to the gym
Hike in Glacier National Park (a .6 mile walk to a waterfall and back does not count)
Spend more than a half an hour picking huckleberries
Finish the Bear puzzle on the dining room table with the kids
Read a novel or two ot ten
Watch the meteor shower
Take a night walk with the dogs, or any substantial walk with the dogs for that matter
Go to Canada, which is 60 miles north
Make homemade ice cream
Have long leisurely dinners outside on the patio
Eat lobster

Here’s what I DID do on my summer vacation:
I compiled this list yesterday because I was sick of beating myself up for all the things I DIDN’T do, and it reminded me that when you are launching your life’s dream and starting a business, you might suffer in the “Life in Balance” category. And so what? Sometimes that’s just the way things fly. So yesterday, I took my mind off my NO list and set it on my YES list, and I went to bed by the full moon last night feeling sated.

The below is not shameless self-promotion, it’s just a good exercise. If you feel that you too didn’t have a summer, you might want to write down what you DID do. And that includes just sitting in a room breathing and gazing out the window, if you didn’t have a high performance last few months. Let’s live in YES instead of NO. Let’s live in the SOLUTION, not the PROBLEM. For what it’s worth, feel free to skim the below:

Played tennis with my kids
Started a puzzle with my kids
Took a romantic getaway with my husband to see Michael Franti and Spearhead in Missoula, MT and had a total blast
Went to a three day horse clinic about centered riding and learned so much about how tight I am on a horse when I’m scared
Swam in the lake a lot

…and the following:
Social Media:
Took a hard core stab at understanding Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Shewrites, and Blogher which is all mildly terrifying for this techno peasant.

Started “Daily Tips for Writers” on Twitter which I hope to make into a book one day, or use in a memoir about writing.

Regular Blog Contributor:
Became a regular contributer to:
Huffington Post
Parelli Natural Horesmanship Blog

Live Chats:

Awesome Women’s on Facebook with Robin Rice

Penguin Watercooler

My Haven Newsletter live blog chat with Life Coach, Rossell Weinstein

Contest:“Think Outside the Barn”– did a photo essay of barns, and their “real life” personae– followed by the “Name This Barn” contest and book giveaway. Winner to be announced Sept 12. People are having a lot of fun with this and so am I.

The Kathleen Show (radio and blog)

SHE Magazine– UK (glossy mag, December publication) with Gail Goodwin (pending publication)

NPR interview with Sally Mauk

406 Magazine (Montana)

Q&A: Montana Quarterly Magazine

Guest blogger on:

The Traveling Writer

Drinking Diaries

Huffington Post– Arielle Ford’s Blog

Published Essays:

“Dog Fog”– Huffington Post

“Rain Song”– Huffington Post

New York Times Magazine “Lives” essay:

Author Magazine

Woman’s Day (August issue)

Pending Publication:

Shewrites essay
Parelli Horsemanship blog post (will be a montly deal)
O. Magazine South Africa essay
Life By Me essay ebook by Sophie Cliche (includes Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou etc.)

Submissions: (waiting to hear)
The New Yorker (fingers, toes, eyes, and nostrils crossed)
Ladies Home Journal
The Sun
NPR essay to read on air

Summer Events:Read at the Whitefish Lake Lodge
Read at three private parties: Ridgewood NY, Millbrook, NY, Short Hills, NJ
Read at the Kent Place School, Summit, NJ
Read at a book group on Flathead Lake

Co-hosting (or just plain being feted at) three private parties/readings: NYC, Hartford, Chicago
Reading at two libraries: Fairfield and Simsbury, CT
Speaking at a major Chicago hospital benefit
Speaking at the kick-off to the reading series at my high school in CT
Speaking at the Winnetka Bookstall– luncheon at a great Chicago restaurant

Fundraiser for a San Francisco school– Burke School
Festival of the Book in Missoula, where I’ll serve on a panel of memoirists and speak seperately
Miami Book Fair

Oh, and I got a book deal in the UK, (Little Brown) which I’m so excited about. Book to be published in April.

So why is it that I feel so guilty that I haven’t been to the gym, taken night walks with my dogs, ridden my horse in the woods, etc? I think we all could learn a lot by looking at our pro list and not our con list. I’m going to work on this. I know it’s not about doing. It’s about being. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’ve done. And who we were doing it.


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

14 Responses to Summer Lost (or Summer Gained): It's how you slice it.

  1. Laura, I can absolutely relate to this post. And you remind me of something I try to do (but not often enough) and that is to focus on the accomplishments rather than the things I didn’t. And interestingly, looking there, at the Dids instead of the Did Nots, shines a light on the twists and turns of my path. It helps me redirect. And give thanks. Thanks for the reminder!

    • lauramunson

      Oh good, Denise. We can all help remind each other. I look forward to reading your blog, which a friend of mine told me about yesterday. Great to have you here. yrs. Laura

  2. Yes, agree. Summer expectations can get out of hand, as though we return to our childhood days of freedom and balmy days. Alas, life catches up with us and summer never quite feels the same. Letting go is good and accepting “what is” works. But we are forever soldiers in-training, it seems; never leaving our childhoods too far behind. I enjoyed reading this; it gave me pause and it’s so lovely to meet you, even if online! Plz stop by sometime; a creative, sunny space for kindred spirits. Think you’ll feel right at home! Best wishes, Daisy

    • lauramunson

      Daisy, I will absolutely stop by sunnyroomstudio (great title!). Thanks for letting me know. Bloggers are so generous and kind. I love this whole forum for sharing. I really do. I love what you said about our childhoods. It’s so true. And then add on the pressure of wanting your kids to have great childhood summer memories. I feel like I failed them this summer, but I’m totally projecting. They’ll look back at it with fond memories. It’s just a loaded time of year. Like Christmas every day. yrs. Laura

  3. Michelle

    I can totally relate! As a school teacher for the last 12 years I understand the feelings of “Oh no! It’s the end of summer and I haven’t done _____! Where did the time go?”

    This year my garage is still full of junk and I still haven’t unpacked those boxes in the attic from when I moved into my house 8 years ago.

    What I did do was rest, relax and recharge. I visited the Children’s Museum, Zoo and Aviary with my daughter. I read 6-7 books. I went to the pool with my daughter. I had a great lake vacation with my family. I slept in.

    To remind me what was important this summer, I posted a “Reason I love summer” to my Facebook status each day. Some were lame and others were wonderful. I’ve kept the list to look back on – to remind myself that I haven’t wasted my summer. Even if I haven’t done everything exactly how I thought I “should.”

    • lauramunson

      Ah, the “shoulds.” We “should” ban that word from the English language. And all go dance in a field somewhere. Thanks for your comment. Expectations are so damn confounding. yrs. Laura p.s. Teachers are my heroes. GO, Michelle!

  4. Life whizzes by when we hold our breaths. For me, being in the moment helps slow the pace and the “shoulds”. I love the connectedness your blog brings, Laura. Thanks for encouraging “yesses”!

    • lauramunson

      Thanks for being here, Stephanie. I always return to e.e. cumming’s poem about yes:

      i thank You God for most this amazing
      day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
      and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
      which is natural which is infinite which is yes

      (i who have died am alive again today,
      and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
      day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
      great happening illimitably earth)

      how should tasting touching hearing seeing
      breathing any–lifted from the no
      of all nothing–human merely being
      doubt unimaginable You?

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      yrs. Laura

  5. Janis Schmier

    This post was very well timed and oh, so true!

    This summer was an extremely short one with the gloomy Montana winter hanging on well into June. On my to-do list for this summer was to spend lots of time at our river property near Great Falls. (We went there twice this summer.) Go rafting down the Missouri River. (The raft is still folded in the basement.) Go fishing. (The pontoon boat is still in the box.) Get our landscaping back in shape. (Weeds are still in control.)

    But…we did accomplish quite a bit. We visited family in Idaho. I actually read three books–including yours! (Great book and actually so close to home for me.) We visited Yellowstone in the spring to see the bison calves. (No crowds.) Redid our living room walls, installed new window shades and are in the process of rebuilding our fireplace. Best of all, our daughter was married on August 15th in West Glacier. It was a beautiful day for a wonderful couple!

    I have noticed as I’ve aged (my husband and I are in our mid-50′s) that summers go faster. I am beginning to feel self-imposed pressure that time is getting short. How many more active summers will we have? What adventures will we be able to check off before we can no longer hike to Iceberg Lake or to the top of Mt. Washburn? When will we be able to get off the treadmill and learn to relax and live the life we dream of? I want to get off the highway and explore the back country. Why do we push ourselves so hard that relaxing and enjoying the pleasures that are so dear to us seem so far away? I am tired of this self-sabotage and want to get on with the enjoyment of life. If only we would stop letting other things get in the way and waiting until everything is perfect to live the life of our dreams.

    • lauramunson

      “Why do we push ourselves so hard that relaxing and enjoying the pleasures that are so dear to us seem so far away? I am tired of this self-sabotage and want to get on with the enjoyment of life.” Oh such sweet words. Thank you, Janis. Thank you. Look at the moon tonight! I’m looking at it through the window and calling it good. yrs. Laura

      • Janis Schmier

        Thank you SO much for your great advice!
        After working all day, having a quick supper and working on our fireplace project until around 9 p.m.; I read your reply to my post. Your response really hit home!
        We went out on the deck to look for the moon and there it was! The night was the warmest of the year and the round moon showed itself through a small frame of clouds. It was breathtaking and instantly forced us to relax in its glow.
        We took the time to enjoy the moment and I thank you for inspiring us.
        All my best,

  6. Martin and I are also caught up in entrepreneurial activities — kids story Apps for iPhone and Droid devices. It’s such a whirlwind. We chucked balance out the window several months ago but it’s ok. There are times in life when you focus on one thing at the expense of other things.

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