10 Lessons I Learned During Summer Vacation

goodbye summer, oh my handmade

Okay, so we didn’t really have a vacation, we had a work our butts off movecation instead (literally-I lost 30+lbs!), but amidst the busy there was time for soaking up the summer glow and learning some major life lessons. This was a big summer for us as a family and as a result lots of things got put on multiple back burners while other pots were stirring. I narrowed my aha! moments down to these 10 Lessons I learned on My Summer Vacation:

1. I am stronger & more capable then I give myself credit for. From flying across the whole country with my first ever passport to replanting our family in a new town (& a business trip to Brooklyn too), whenever panic struck I told myself, “you can so do this” and I could.

2. The days might be long but the summer is short. In Canada it feels like the summer is gone in a blink, the long hot days are quickly blown away by cold Fall winds. This is  also true for life seasons and business transitions. When we were in the midst of moving it felt like it would never end, but it did, and now it seems like it wasn’t that bad considering all we accomplished. When Ila was a baby it felt like I would be doing diapers forever but I just looked away and now my baby is a tanned gazelle whose long legs are carrying her into Grade 2 and her 8th (gasp) birthday. I don’t want to miss those precious seasons that are over so fast!

3. Run away into the sunset. The real sunset, a metaphorical one, either way-just go chase it down. You will likely never catch it, not fully, but in most things it is the chase that brings us alive. We chased sunsets this summer with the kids half asleep in their car seats, windows down, driving along the ocean with the sky on fire. We also chased dream sunsets-the kind that lead you to pack up your life and leap into adventure. I am convinced a life without racing into the sun is just not worth living.

4. Remember why you fell in love. After 9 years of togetherness Chris and I got a little too comfortable with our love and slowly started to forget what made us happiest-coastal towns, lazy beach days, farmer’s markets, those random getting lost car rides, and so we started fighting, becoming resentful, and growing apart. We needed to refocus on what we love about each other and our life and fall in love all over again. It is important to do this for our businesses too, setting aside time to remember what we love most about what we do, and then making time to celebrate and fall into it again.

5. Not working is hard work. Hello, my name is Jessika, I am addicted to the internet. Being forced to stop working COMPLETELY because I had no phone or internet made me realize I almost never stop work completely. Sure I will take a day off but I will always check in at night or make up for it by doing a couple hours early in the morning. When I spend the day at the beach I think about work multiple times-for August I forced myself to put thoughts of work away. I also helped myself with this by having my mama throw a virtual Kitchen Party and getting the posts ready in July. I have to admit it was tough, sometimes I failed, but hey we all have our weaknesses right?

what I did on my summer vacation, oh my handmade

6Get out of your brain & into your body. Force your brain to shush! It is hard to check your email when you are splashing in the ocean, climbing up trails, or romping about outside. For those of us who work inside sometimes we forget how vital it is to put away the screens and let our body take over. My legs are still bruised up from leaping over waves and tumbling down hills-it is the sweetest ache ever.

7. To everything there is a season. Blogging in August is tough-in 2010, 2011, and again this year our traffic dropped over 35% and comments 50%, Twitter and Facebook are always quiet. The whole world takes a break…next year we are joining Susannah Conway and taking part in the August blogging break. A guilt free month off=awesome! Coming back energized and full of ideas? Brilliance.

8. Laziness can be a virtue. I am one of the least lazy people I know. I never nap, I don’t sleep much, I push myself forward at every opportunity. This summer in between moving madness I forced myself to laze about in the sun reading and drinking fizzy drinks, to go to bed before 3am, to wake up late, and here is a big one-to NOT write down every single idea that pops into my head*. Knowing when to indulge laziness and just be still is a talent that I am working on!

*this might have caused a few internal implosions at the time but magically when I sat down September 1st to get back to work all those ideas were still waiting for me!

9. My secret to joy is knowing what fills me up and reaching for it. Heart in hands, gut in knots, doing it anyway, opening up to my own potential and capacity for grandness while keeping our family happy and whole. Our life in Halifax felt stale and we needed community + space to roam. Once we made the decision to go back to coastal small town living everything fell into place (even though we had to work hard for it). Now life is imbued with a sense of purpose and completeness. This whole adventure has been a coming home in more ways than one.

10. The world isn’t going anywhere without me. I am not big on defining success by numbers or metrics but even I get panicked when all the numbers start dropping and the comments are q.u.i.e.t. It is also hard not to feel guilty when you are at the beach and there is work to be done. I had to call myself on this over and over again and remember that everything that matters would still be there when we got settled, that there was time enough for all the to-do’s. Today Ila starts her new school, Sela heads off to her first day at pre-school, I start work on our Aeolidia redesign we are back to our #omhg chat schedule. The internets are waking up again and getting ready for the fall and holiday rush now it is time for me to get back to business!

That is the heart of what I learned this summer now it is your turn! Share a lesson or lessons you learned this summer in the comments and next week I’ll email you all a link to download last September’s Back to Business ebook + a gold star.

Also be sure to join us today for the first #omhg chat after our August break from 1-2EST on Twitter to chat about what we learned this summer & look ahead for the Fall. See you there! 


    • Jessika says:

      @Cody-that unplugging time is so vital yet very easy to ignore! Good for you for making the time to be with your loves!
      @Alison-oh love I know JUST how you are feeling! I am so glad that you were self-aware enough to take a step back and clear space for the time you need. Hope to spend some time catching up with you at #omhg today (which is less like work & more like play).
      Gold stars for everyone!

  1. Jessika – this post could not be more timely. This summer I have also learned how important it is to slow down and take a break (because I did not do it). I am *almost* starting the Fall feeling majorly stressed and stretched way too thin. I love the Fall season, and luckily for me, (I think) I’m a quick learner. I recognized the signs early. I have taken today off and am feeling blissful. For me, it’s not necessarily about turning off the computer completely….but slowing down and taking TIME…time to enjoy things, time to relax and be myself, time to take a bath…etc. I’m really excited for the next few months and interacting with all of the beautiful creatives here at omhg!

    • Jessika says:

      Gah! I can’t wait for a better comments section but all these lessons deserve their response:)

      @Danielle/djcoolbear- This quote came to mind when I read your comment “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow. ” ― Mary Anne Radmacher. Keeping going is some of the most practical magic, you will always arrive somewhere!

      @Danielle/aloveaffairwithpaper- Summertime can definitely make any kind of zen tricksy! Hard to practice patience let alone gratitude when you are 1000 degrees:)

      @Erin-Those renovations absolutely suck up the budget-thankfully we are alllll done that part…until we buy another house, and the fun begins all over again! Sometimes those short trips away from work are all you need to refuel-I know I am so happy to get back to work after our break.

      @Sarah-Of course we love our families but sometimes we drift away from just how deeply we love them & how magic building memories is-the times we spend with each other just being are precious. Curling up with Ila in the sun and reading was better than anything!

      @Nikki-I have so many virtual hugs to give you that they just won’t fit in this little box, I am sending you an email to try & cram it all in. Let’s keep it at you are loved and so stupendously awesome-I hope next time the inner meanies come creeping you remember you have your very own cheerleading squad and we see your value even when you wont.

      @Deanna-that is some powerful mojo, if we always get what we think we want how will we ever know we want it? We are defined as much by what we choose to not cultivate as what we do! It also seems to be one of those neverending super lessons:)

      It got late before I managed to reply to all these awesome lessons-more tomorrow!

  2. Erin says:

    What a great post, Jessika! I learned many of the same things and am consciously working on a few others. yay us! Haha! There was no big summer vacation for us this year (with a kitchen reno sucking up our budget), but we did learn to force ourselves to drop the enormous to-do lists and get away for a few short trips. Now that summer is slipping away, I’m so glad we did that! I also did something I never do… put my Etsy shop in vacation mode for 3 whole weeks. And, y’know what? It felt so good! It gave me the space to take a breath and get myself organized and mentally prepared for the busy fall/winter ahead. I just might make that a habit every August.

  3. Over Summer break, I “remembered” how important my family is to me. We were able to have visits in and out of the country, sail, swim, eat, drink and be merry. I stepped away from the everyday swarm of never-ending lists and things to do, and enjoyed the people who raised me, the daughter my husband and I are raising, and was able to let go, if even for a short while.

  4. Nikki says:

    Back in April I got laid off. For the months after that, I felt myself diving into depression. Depression isn’t new to me – I have a pretty intense history of dealing with depression and was hospitalized in college when things finally hit rock bottom and I thought I couldn’t take it. Being laid off was going from the high high of thinking I was awesome at my job to suddenly doubting every single thing in my life and feeling like I was utterly worthless. I cried myself to sleep almost every night. My girlfriend had no way of getting to me. I felt like I could do nothing right.

    But you live and learn. And I opened my eyes a few months after being laid off and realized that things needed to be different – that I was stronger than this. That I could beat this. And in that one short pep talk, I realized that I COULD DO THIS. “whenever panic struck I told myself, “you can so do this” and I could.” <— that's what happened to me. And from that moment, things went up hill. I started working on my own business. I started realigning myself, both online and off, to be what I truly wanted to be. I opened my Etsy shop. I got a life coach. I applied to jobs that I really wanted and in July, I got hired at an awesome company where I get to make beautiful designs. It's a reminder that I'm awesome at what I do. Because I believed in myself again.

    So what did I learn during the summer? That BELIEVING in yourself, and thinking POSITIVE, can bring you to places that you originally thought were out of your reach. <3 It and is a hard lesson to learn (and make stick!), but it's there and it's true. 🙂

  5. Kasey M. says:

    Over summer break I was reminded that, “I can do anything but I can’t do everything.” My Dad told me this in college when I was having a bad day and now whenver I am losing my grip because there is too much on my plate I remind myself I can do it all (grad school, moving, updating the blog), but I can’t do it all at once.

  6. Rori says:

    I’ve been on bed rest for more than 3 months, so it’s definitely forced me to slow down! I’ve learned to accept help with even the most basic things and that I really don’t need much.

  7. Sarah (mrsgryphon) says:

    What I learned: sometimes, not having a plan is really the best sort of plan. We approached our summer with very little “organized planning”, and somehow it organically filled up with friends and fun and lots of laughter. Leaving ourselves open to the opportunities that came our way meant that we had a really fantastic and virtually stress-free summer 🙂

  8. I’ve learned that I need to schedule time for everything – including time to relax for myself. If I don’t plan for it, it just doesn’t seem to happen. I pretty much have to make rules for myself like: 10pm is my bedtime, and no computer after 8:30pm. Otherwise I just keep going and going and going!

  9. Gabrielle says:

    I learnt that I have to not let the down days get me down! My life doesn’t alter much in the summer months, I don’t have children so there’s no school break to mark out time and I find that I drift through July and August wondering why it’s so quiet and expecting everything to still be at spring and autumn speeds. I’ve had a few wobbly days with a lot of self-doubt and I’ve learnt that I can accept it’s not a great day but to know that it won’t last, and to keep moving forward in my business, even if it’s just baby steps.

  10. Patty Palmer says:

    I take an August break from “work” every summer. My summer home is in Prince Edward Island (I was born in Pictou, NS!) We have little cell coverage and until this year, no internet. What I’ve learned over the years is that people really don’t miss you when you are away from your blog. Our ego tells us that we are needed; but we aren’t. My teenage kids don’t need their friends, their cell phones or internet for the few weeks we are there. We hang out, we eat, we play lots of golf. And when I return to California, I dip into my blogging alter ego with a renewed breath.

  11. Andreia says:

    Hello Jessica!

    First things first: thanks for this meaningfull post!
    I think I’ve a Summer lesson learned to share with you all.
    This Summer vacations were pretty different for all of us. We stayed at home (I, my husband and our children) and as you can imagine it’s hard to be on vacation when you are at home, with all the work around, but I realized how we had fun and some rest too. The trick was: lets have a different routine and enjoy every single minute of what we might be doing, since a order to complete ( I even asked some help to some of my children who felt super happy with that) or going out to the beach early in the morning and giving lots of room for imagination.
    When i was playing with my children at the beach, the oldest one (7 years old) said ‘It seems you are our oldest daughter’. What could I ask more?
    The ideal Summer vacations could be anywhere, but the perfect ones, the ones that will be remembered forever are those when you put all your energy in making the others happy (and hapiness=>hapiness).

    Happy September!

  12. Beautiful thoughts, Jessika! I know all these things, but have to remind myself on a daily basis to DO them.

    I’ve been trying to throw myself fully into work when I’m working, creativity when I’m creating, play when I’m playing, and efficiency when I’m doing housework, etc. so that when it’s time to focus on my family, I can really do so without mentally being elsewhere.

  13. This is such a fantastic post. I was just mulling over this very question. I learned that I am very, very lucky, and very, very grateful. I learned that I am all that stands between me and “success”. And I learned that sand sticks like glue to spray-on sunscreen.

  14. Things I learned this Summer:
    – it is really nice to have the kids at home for 2 months without worrying who will be looking after them
    – it is really hard to get anything done when the kids are home for 2 months with me looking after them
    – a lot of self-doubt seemed to overtake my mind
    – just as many new ideas popped into my head
    – I really, really want my business to succeed and realize that this will take a lot of hard work
    – I’m willing to work hard to make my business succeed
    – I soooo missed the uplifting omhg chats, that vote of confidence, knowing someone believes in you, talking with like-minded people
    Conclusion: Yay for September!
    x Tania

  15. Lindsay says:

    I learned that I needed to be clear about the time that I need to work on my two businesses ReverseStitch and BeetleBarrow. Turns out, my husband cannot read my mind! I also learned about how huge this community is! There is lots to learn and lots of people to learn it from, and that this is totally doable. Thanks for your post!!

  16. jet says:

    this summer i have learned to make my own feeling of summer, i have made my mini camper light shade.
    when i’m looking to this lamp it’s making me smile. Inside i have made a small interieur of just carton moving boxs and paper and my nanna’s curtains.
    I have ever dreamed of making dollhouses but that project is still to far, so i have bringing it more smaller by making this funny caravan doll for a lightshade.
    i want to make more, but this summer feeling is still around me by watching it.
    and… i have learned my self to watch everyday to the clouds to imagening what animals they are.LOL
    so it’s all about making your own idea’s make come truth and make time for them.

  17. This summer, I learned that I am more than enough but am happy that I can be more because of others. The greater joy of giving can fill up every corner of your soul if you let it. I am still learning to not give up on my dreams. This summer saw me taking a big first ‘dream step’. Now that I’m here, I have to stick it out. I learned that my creativity is not an option, but I can’t let it be my only defining attribute. It has to fill me without consuming me. I’ll need another summer for that 🙂

  18. Nikki says:

    You’re the best Jessika. One of the very best things about getting laid off? The very next week I took part in #OMHG and I haven’t looked back. This community lifted me and gave me hope when I desperately needed it. You and all my new friends kept me from giving up so completely. You reminded me of the things that I couldn’t do and you reminded me that I need to move forward and things will be okay eventually. I’m getting emotional writing this. Thank you for being you and for introducing me to a new and better ME. <3

  19. Oh my Jess…I think this is my favorite post of yours ever. I want to run over right now. We can walk on this beach and talk about tuning out and tuning inward for hours.

    This summer, I am getting used to growing and choosing my path when I reach out towards so many goals at once. I feel like I am running a race and continually outgrow my running shoes. I pause and put on a new pair. I am learning to embrace “pause”. In every way.

  20. Kerry says:

    What a thoughtful post Jessika! Things I learned this summer:

    – I thrive more with a routine
    – I want to be more creative
    – I will take more of an extended break next summer with the kids
    – I am ready to leave the city and simplify my life
    – that it is a lot of fun to write a post for OMHG and share with the community

    Thanks to everyone who shared their lessons here. I really enjoyed reading them! Hugs to you Jessika!

  21. Mallory says:

    One of the things I realized this summer – and finally actually embraced – is that I work best in sprints. I’m not a long distance kinda gal that wants to work steady for an infinite amount of time. Instead I like to really push myself and work really hard in a burst and then have a bit of slower, recuperation time. I’ve been trying to fit myself into the “normal” model of working a steady, constant schedule, but it really just doesn’t fit who I am. When I work the way I really want to my creativity, productivity and happiness levels shoot through the roof.

  22. Lisa says:

    I spent my summer taking my boys to a water park.. I realized that I don’t take enough time to play with them, and just focusing on them for a few hours a day really makes a difference in their attitudes towards me.. we had less fighting and they say the L-word (love) more often 🙂

  23. Lori-Ann says:

    Gorgeous. Nice work!
    This summer, I learned to jump at the whims. Every. Single. One. that I have responded to this summer has turned into something amazing and rocket-fuelled. Listen to the whispered whim and do something about it: this has been my beautiful lesson.

  24. Katharine says:

    I learned this summer that it’s my time to grow up – we learned we’re expecting a baby, and so now I’ve got a year and half to make a whole new living being, spend a year with it figuring out if there’s any way I can make a life from home. I need to make my home more live-able, and at once incorporate a whole new person worth of stuff into it. This year is going to be a challenge, but I think I’m ready for it!

  25. Anika says:

    I learned that I can’t do everything I want to do and therefore I need to prioritize like crazy to get the important things done first. Having a newborn and toddler will do that to you 🙂

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