Remember all those changes we made at our house? New habits! Healthy choices! Yay for starting and continuing, for perseverance and determination!
All those things were true.
But more than a few friends this summer have said, “I don’t know how you do it,” and I can’t, in good conscience, allow them to believe that I have been consistent.
This summer flittered by, mostly, beautifully. We traveled to the Outer Banks, to Chicago and to Maryland; we welcomed visitors from Florida, Connecticut and Maryland; we swam and sunned ourselves; we hiked and explored; we built and dug and created and snuggled; we ate good food; we drank delicious, handmade cocktails; we grew and harvested and pruned; we fought and made up; we stayed up late and slept late—we soaked it all in.
This summer intended to be the writing season for my book, twelve chapters in thirteen weeks, wrapping up in August. I built in an extra week. Adorable, right? Because, of course, that was all I’d need. Well, the book plan grew to thirteen chapters, seven of which have been drafted as August fades in the rear view. The book isn’t done. It’s not near done. I need more material from my partner; I need more production out of me; I need better production out of me. It’s all still a long way off, and somewhere with all the fun and mothering and patience mustering this summer, I lost my mojo.
I had worked my way to running between five and ten miles per week. Hear me: I have IronMan friends, so I’m not impressed. But I hadn’t run two miles in the past ten years combined, so running consistently and actually enjoying it felt like major wins. I managed to run in Corolla on vacation, through most of the heat of the summer, but when the schedule got crazy and the husband got busy, when the nights got late and the children let me sleep, the running slowed. Maybe I’d run once per week. A couple weeks I didn’t run at all. I had also started going to yoga class at least once, sometimes twice per week; I marveled over the benefits I could see and feel. Now afternoon kindergarten and nap time threaten the practice.
Then the last month of the summer, our living room became a bedroom. My sister in law broke her leg, got a blood clot, had surgery, and needed help. This girl has helped us the last three times we’ve moved, and not just a little. She has taken off work, traveled to our new location (twice out of state) and helped me organize my kitchen cabinets. Selfless doesn’t begin to describe her. So, of course we offered our home and help. She stayed with us nearly four weeks, and I’m sure she wouldn’t describe her recuperation as “peaceful,” and I wouldn’t describe my caretaking skills as “graceful,” but I know we loved her the best we knew how. Still, once we added that to the summer, the structure kind of fell out the bottom of it.
Daniel had to travel, for work and to say farewell to his Pop Pop, who passed away, not unexpectedly, but sadly. He returned, and what had started as a minor leak in our kitchen faucet now requires insurance claims, remediation and repairs. As I write, men carry armloads of my kitchen floor down the driveway and out to a van; only the subfloor remains. Above the drone of industrial fans and dehumidifiers that have hummed for the past week, I hear crashing through the wall that tells me the cabinets won’t be there long either.
Here’s why I’m telling you all of this: I think it’s all normal. It’s what happens when plans and discipline and intention intersect with real, uncontrollable life. I’ve spent the last couple days since school started feeling sorry for myself, feeling like all momentum is lost, feeling like I don’t know where to pick back up, so I probably just won’t. And that’s ridiculous. Roadblocks are inevitable, a fact, not a problem. Stops—in and of themselves—aren’t an issue. Accepting their existence and the changes they provoke seems far preferable to kicking and screaming, to piling guilt on myself for the way it has all turned, to wishing it were different. I stopped because life demanded it. I did what needed to be done. And now the time has come to find a way forward.
Maybe this is still the season of your stop. Maybe you remain there, your intentions--for now--abandoned, as you muddle through. May you find strength to continue; may you hold your hopes and plans with an open hand. May all of us, as Goethe said, "learn to love what must be done." May September bring us fresh perspective and joy. May those of us in a season of stopping find rest and reflection. May those of us ready to start find strength and perseverance. May we all find peace where we find ourselves today.