September 02, 2014

What August Taught Me

For the first 20-something years of my life, August was full of new beginnings, crisp notebooks and freshly minted resolutions to excel in a new school year.  I still get nostalgic when I walk through a store and see piles of school supplies stacked high and endless options of  notebooks and pens for sale.

For the past few years, however, August has been very different.  Because of the nature of my work, August is my break.  August is my time to slow down a little, catch my breath and prepare for a busy fall.  I soak up every last ray of summer--all the way through Labor Day--instead of rushing through summer reading or packing my belongings for school on August 1st.

I've come to accept and love the change and rhythm of August but this month has been markedly different for me.  The most obvious reason being, I'm married now, followed closely by the fact that Kern has been traveling almost the entire month.  Initially it might not sound like that big of a deal, but I have missed him greatly.  The hardest part has been missing him while I have down time and we could be participating in some of our favorite activities or traveling together.

Determined to make the most of my time, I decided to let August be a month synonymous with saying yes.  So what has that looked like for me?

Relationships - I have made it a point to reconnect with friends over the past month.  This has taken different forms ranging from sharing a meal to sending a text message or spending time on the phone.  It has reminded me how easy it is to connect and how frequently I choose not to reach out because I feel tired or overworked.  However, when I do reach out, I am recharged and encouraged far more than when I make an excuse.

Giving Away - I have dedicated several days to going through our apartment and marking items to give away, throw away or sell.  This organization spree snowballed into deep cleaning one day...and boy are the results worth it!  I have a rocking eBay store going, more room in my closets and a squeaky clean living space.  I should dedicate a separate blog post to my recent bend towards living with less because it has been wonderful and eye opening to me how little I (and we) actually need in comparison to all that we own.

Being Alone - The past month has confirmed some growing suspicions I have about my personality: I am much more of an introvert that I realized.  While I certainly love being around people, I do find that I need quiet alone time to recharge, ponder, dream and think.  I have allowed myself to say "no" to some opportunities in exchange for a quiet evening at home by myself, with dinner for one.  I am learning that I need this time.  For me, "alone" time also translates into doing activities just for myself, such as taking an afternoon to visit the Portrait Gallery or walk through the American History Museum.  I enjoy the luxury of going exactly at my own speed and deciding the exhibits I want to view!

God's Timing is Perfect - I sailed through the majority of the month trying to keep busy and anticipating a long-awaited trip back to Mississippi.  The day before I was scheduled to fly home, Gran Fran, my beloved grandmother, suffered a stroke.  Living so far from home can be difficult on a good day and gut-wrenching on a hard day.  I was able to get to her quickly and spend lots of time between the hospital and helping my mom manage the chaos.  She is doing better now and working hard in a rehab facility to be able to go home.  I kept thinking of Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps."  

As I enter fall, I want to be more responsive to the situations that God places in front of me and be open and willing to change the plans that I have set for myself.  It's been a great summer and I look forward to the changes of fall.

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