How will summer shape you?

Every so often, I like to take stock. On this Labor Day weekend, I’ve decided to take stock of five of my summer’s best moments—those that made an imprint on me, that shifted my thinking in some way, or just plain moved me. 

  1. Changing perspective. For my birthday, I bought myself a new standup paddleboard. Though I’d done the SUP thing before, what was novel (and marvelous) was hoisting my own board up on the car, securing it with cam straps, driving to the lake, and sharing early morning moments with ducks, a few hardy swimmers and an occasional bald eagle. One morning I paddled through a gaggle of sizable Canadian geese taking flight all around me, on another battled the wind and waves, and another, floated on my back, on my board, and watched the sky change. I like the way things look when I’m standing on the water.
  2. A big hairy challenge. I looked up the valley and saw the Sasquatch—Whistler B.C.’s new zipline adventure—over 2 kilometers long and dangling 600 feet over the valley floor at its highest point. Gulp. Adventurer? Yes. Thrill seeker? Not so much. That said, I was drawn to doing it—and to putting a big hairy scary challenge in front of me. Then, once I realized I probably wouldn’t die, I gave myself over to it—the trip up the mountain, putting on the harness, the safety checking and rechecking and then the moment of stepping off, of screaming, and of soaring.
  3. Seeking what matters. I’ve read a few great books this summer, but none more impactful than Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s about life and spiritual survival, the power of choosing how to react to adversity and the drive to find meaning in life. If you’ve read it before, read it again.
  4. Vacating. Near the end of the summer, we decided to take a midweek day off and see some spots in our own beautiful Pacific Northwest. Our day included two ferry rides, a walk on the beach, a visit to two picturesque island towns, browsing bookstores and gift shops, lunch, a midafternoon stop for pie and ice cream, one more small town, one final ferry ride and a very late dinner—a day refreshingly conducted with no agenda, no schedule, no expectations, and no pressure.
  5. Acting in service to others. Each Friday this summer, my kids and I spent the morning at Seattle’s University District Food Bank. Our shift was 8:00–12:00, and we showed up faithfully. Like much most other volunteering I’ve done, I emerged the one enriched. Watching my kids work hard—and loving it, connecting with customers and other volunteers, weeding through past-their-prime tomatoes—it just felt good.

Summer reminiscing is fun. But beyond that, I’m hoping to take these feelings, learnings, and experiences forward into my fall, and winter and spring after that. Continuing to experience different perspectives, be of service, face fear and challenge myself, seek meaning, and just plain turn off when I need to—these are the ways that the summer of 2015 will make its imprint on me, my life and my work to come.

How will the moments of your summer shape you? I’d love to hear about it.