“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh. Yellow is a color I associate with summer, but a color that I’ve only come to love as an adult. As a young girl I had a yellow bedroom. I couldn’t appreciate it, however, because as the only girl in a family of five I wanted something girly, like pink or purple. Now that I’m older, yellow reminds me of dandelions, buttercups, corn-on-the-cob, and sunshine.
Looking forward to summer, and the bright, sun-shiney days, is what gets me through the long, dark days of winter. I was looking forward to this summer in particular because it was the first summer since 2013 that I wouldn’t be both working and attending college. At the start of it I create a nice, long list of goals for my summer vacation. The idea behind that list was to give direction to the four months I had off from school.
I didn’t want to get to the end of the summer and look back with regret. I knew if I didn’t make a plan I’d find myself uttering the words, “I wish I had,” or, “If I only I had gotten to do..”. I was a girl with a plan.
Life has a way of getting in the way of our plans, however. I didn’t when I made that list that my job was going to be complicated this summer. I hadn’t yet been to the doctor to talk about how years of chronic stress had taken its toll on my body, and I was in for a long, slow road of recovery. I wasn’t prepared to still be processing grief from last year.
All of this (and more) has gotten in the way of my summer to-do list.
Earlier this month my husband and I went away for a long weekend together, and while we were gone I listened to an Instagram story that changed my whole attitude about my summer to-do list. The speaker (whose name I forgot to write down to credit) basically said that your summer t0-do list should be a source of inspiration and not a must-do list.
I sat with that for a long time after and thought about my own summer to-do list. I thought about how carefully I had planned it all out and all the different areas I had planned for. Places I wanted to go, people I wanted to spend time with, and things I wanted to learn. At the mid-point of July, I realized that there was a good possibility that come time for grad school to start in September, I was not going to complete my list.
Being a type-A, doer, who loves a good plan as much as the next person, this is something I had been really struggling with. I realized as I reflected on that IG story that I needed to change my perspective in regards to my summer to-do list. Instead of it being a must-do list, it needed to become a guide for how I spent my time. After all, the original intention for the list was for it to give direction to my summer.
Knowing what I want to accomplish allows me to pick and choose from that list if I’m feeling motivated to learn, or in the mood for being crafty. If I’m feeling well enough to be active, I know the places I want to go hiking or the activities I want to engage in. I’ve changed my mind about getting it all done and recognize that some things on that last may be ongoing, and I am okay with that. It also has me rethinking how I will created a plan for the fall and even next summer.
The most important thing will happen when summer ends. Instead of looking at all the things I didn’t check off, I’ll be able to look at all of the things I was able to accomplish instead.
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