photo courtesy of getty images
Hard to believe, but today is the first day of school.
I remember all my first-days-of-school, and all the back-to-school shopping with my mom that came along with it. There were new shoes to break in and oodles of number two pencils (is there a number three pencil?), and finding the perfect binder for college ruled loose leaf paper. Heavens to Betsy if the store only had wide ruled. Major crisis. I also recall sitting very still on the extra dining chair in the breakfast room, holding steady a section of the newspaper under my chin, so that my dad could trim my bangs with the scissors from the kitchen drawer. It’s funny the things your brain grabs onto…
On that sacred first day of school, so often one hears “how was your summer?!” over and over again, and it instantly creates a sort of flash of memories – snapshots of the highlights of what you did, what you learned, who you spent time with… And this year, I find myself in that boat more than many summers past. I was able to take several trips – mini “summer vacations,” if you will, and I learned so much. So rather than focus on style and design, I thought I would share some of the bigger life lessons that this summer taught me.
this view never gets old. the beach part.
1. Packing light is overrated. Okay, I’ll be the first one to admit that I always overpack. Just ask anyone in my family who offers to help me with my bag, then pretends to have an ADHD moment and drifts off to the next room. But there’s nothing better than having lots of options at your fingertips. With that said, my theory worked on a few trips and backfired as well. On one trip, I could have brought a bathing suit, a towel, flip flops, and some sort of apparatus to keep a beer can cold and I would have done just fine. BUT, I had options, and I liked that. Just knowing that fourteen pairs of underwear for a three day trip awaited me in my suitcase was reassuring.
bustin’ at the seams and lovin’ it.
2. Acting like a kid is the best way to connect with your inner child. So often, I find myself having to be “mature,” and keep my composure. Blech. This summer, I swam in the ocean, ate a big ole breakfast when I felt like it (hey, that’s throwing caution to the wind for me), sang tunes at the top of my lungs and danced with reckless abandon. It sure does feel good to let yourself go sometimes.
here we are, on the road again!
3. Planning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – go with the flow! I come from a family of planners. Folks who are habitually early. It has been instilled in me to always, ALWAYS have a plan and stick to it, and that to be late is verboten. This summer was about being easy-breezy and go-with-the-flow, and it felt so nice. Everyone was able to do what they wanted, when they wanted, and then reconvene at a set time, around dinner. It just made for such a relaxed atmosphere and each person had a little slice of what he/she wanted during the day. It made me remember that not everyone always wants to do the same thing at the same time, and thaaaat’s okaaaaaay.
4. Lemon water is delightful. We were fortunate enough to stay at a Ritz-Carlton this summer for a couple days. One of the little details they had that I fell in love with was their huge jars of iced water with lemon. It was near the gym, the pool, the spa – everywhere – with these perfect-sized cups. I started thinking – why am I not doing this at home? Well, I am now. Luxury hotels may be over-the-top in some ways, but the little details make them special. Bring those home and share them with your family or co-workers and watch the response.
it’s just that good. delightfully so.
5. Eat off the fancy dishes. So often we rush through life. We look for what’s quick and easy. Like at dinner time – what can we shove in the microwave? Do we have any paper plates? Being in several hotels over the summer made me realize, you only live once. Use the good stuff. What are you saving it for? You’re not just building memories during the summer, but all year long. You’re also going to recall the night you ate those grilled cheese sandwiches off the good china. Use it. Wear your fancy shoes with your jeans with the hole in the them. Who cares? What are we really saving the “good stuff” for? Make random days special. Make more memories.
what would make this better? a nice piece of pizza.
6. Sometimes all you want is a turkey sandwich. Okay, with that said in #5, sometimes the shee-shee gets to be too much. The rich sauces, big breakfasts, and inability to follow your own usual patterns makes being on vacation difficult. I recall at one point when we were at this very nice hotel and we had the opportunity to go to a five star restaurant for dinner. We seriously considered it because we are foodies to the core, but after a while, the novelty had worn off and all we really wanted was a turkey sandwich. Not with juniper berry glaze, not on bread made from the latest gluten-free grain, and not with hydroponic, tiptronic, stetsosonic tomatoes. You can keep those. How’s this? Bread. Hellman’s. Turkey. Cheese. Bread. You got that?
fanciest room service ever. flowers, folded cloth napkin, formed butter, coffee from a silver tea service – I wanted to eat it/smash it
7. A shower after you’ve been at the beach all day is extraordinary. Why does it feel so much different than a regular ole shower? I don’t know what it is, but relaxing at the beach, then coming back, skin all sun-kissed, and rinsing away the sand and grime of the day feels particularly amazing. Is it just me?
8. People watching is fascinating. I have always said that if I could make it a career, I would. I love to watch people. I love to see what makes them tick. We definitely saw all kinds this summer, from glam to gluttonous, and everywhere in between. But I think what I loved the most was just observing relationships. Some good, some bad, but all were good to watch. Most were families playing on the beach. Some brought huge rolling carts filled with tents, chairs, towels, toys, snacks – you name it, they had it. Others packed light with towels, sunblock, and one game. There was inevitably the couple that wouldn’t speak at all, and one that fought non-stop. There were the women in bedazzled bathing suits who wore their fanciest jewels to the beach. And those who had dirt under their fingernails and drank beer out of coolers. In the end, it made me appreciate my own relationships and see them for just what they are. Perhaps not perfect, but perfect for me.
9. The view from the balcony puts it all in perspective. There is something about taking it all in from several stories up. When the people are small and unrecognizable and you are forced to focus on the bigger picture – the landscape, the sunrise or sunset, or perhaps just drift off and think. The balcony seems to be where I have some of my greatest thoughts, but also clear my head. What a lovely place.
10. Home is where the heart is. Vacation is wonderful, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to take some trips this summer. As you can see, I’ve had some time to reflect a bit. I will say though, that with each trip came a deep longing for home. For simple things, like a kiss from my dogs, the quiet of our pretty backyard, cooking a healthy meal from scratch, and sleeping on my own pillow.
The only difference is now I have lemon water.
What did you learn on YOUR summer vacation?