11 Things I Learned This Summer

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Being a lifelong learner is a good thing and one of my favorite things about being a grown-up. Think about it - we get to learn new things we actually choose and create the space to pursue things that interest us! I’m loving this quarterly practice inspired by Emily P. Freeman where I look back and reflect on things I learned in the season that just ended. So here’s my list of things I learned this summer - a final wave goodbye with gratitude to summer and welcoming of fall…

1) “Conflict is good news.”

This phrase hasn’t left my mind since I heard it this summer while listening to a podcast while watering seed trays in the greenhouse. It’s so utterly against how I operate that my ears perked up, I turned off the hose, and started quickly tapping notes into my phone. It’s from Roe Cummings’ interview on the Simple podcast, episode 203. This quote Roe shares is from from a book by Diane Hamilton called Everything Is Workable. Roe says seeing conflict as “good news” helps us welcome conflict as an opportunity to expand and settle. She says the entire purpose is not to eliminate conflict with other people; the purpose is to transform it. “Instead of being reactive or resistant to it, we can ask a more powerful question - What is this moment calling me into? And what is this moment asking of our relationship? How does it want us to go deeper together?” So. Good. A really great episode all-around.

2) “Hard” doesn’t always mean “bad.”

This goes hand-in-hand with #1, but I had an epiphany moment this summer in an everyday conversation with a friend who is also a type 9 on the enneagram. Because I really dislike conflict, I tend to equate anything “hard” with “bad” and then immediately shift into the mode of running away from it or trying to fix it. The problem is, you can’t really “fix” other people. And life is just hard by default, so if I don’t stop doing this, I’ll be in a constant battle internally to fix and change everything around me. For example: my children are bouncing off the walls, bickering with each other all day, and turning their noses up at anything I ask them to do. My normal M.O. is to take it on as this huge burden and believe the lie that I’m failing as a mother, my family is falling apart, and my children are going to turn out badly. A much healthier perspective: realizing it’s just a hard day, these things are going to happen, and we all need extra heaps of grace and patience. I’m learning to lean into the hard, knowing it will pass, and learn what I can by being present in the moment rather than trying to quickly gloss over it and move on.

3) A two-day reset at the beach is LIFE.

Steven and I made a vow at the beginning of this year that we would take more breaks (unapologetically!) so we wouldn’t burn out come autumn, which is our most demanding time on the farm with so many dinners and events. As we enter autumn now, I have to say, I’m so proud of us. Because we did take more breaks, and they were restorative and multiplied our family time and united us so we could enter the fall together, stronger. In July, we were graciously given the opportunity to spend a few days at a friend’s beachfront condo in Rosemary Beach, FL. It was full of:

  • seashell hunting

  • wave riding

  • mermaid tail building

  • lounging in sculptured sand recliners

  • slow living

  • no dirt :)

  • bike rides at sunset

  • wine and iced lattés on the balcony

  • no sense of time

  • packing a whole suitcase and only wearing the same 2 things

  • Coconut La Croix

  • Hair drying into spiral salty curls

  • Being absolutely present with each other

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4) Body image struggles resonate with so many of us.

I wrote a pretty vulnerable post for Art of Simple this summer on my struggles with body image issues and also recorded a podcast episode with some really practical ways to foster a healthier body image. The feedback I got from these was staggering - all ages of women seem to be dealing with this on some level. Let’s cheer each other on in support of healthy bodies, remembering that being strong and healthy is more important than a certain weight or size. I know it’s hard, and our society doesn’t make it easier. But for me, this summer was much healthier and more positive than the last one since I decided to take some action to grow in this area. I’m with you in this, friend.

5) My 9-year-old is totally capable of handling more now.

It’s been freeing to realize we’re entering a slightly different stage of parenting, where it’s actually great to give my oldest daughter more responsibility, and she thrives in being able to manage some things on her own…like setting her watch alarm for 4pm everyday so she an go feed Rosy, our sourdough starter. Or putting her in complete control of setting up and managing the samples table every Saturday at our farm store. Or doing her own laundry and putting it away.

6) A lattice pie crust isn’t as hard as it looks.

Who knew? I for sure Googled a video on how to weave this lattice pie properly, but once I watched it, it was really easy - pinkie swear! This is the epitome of 4th of July food to me - a homemade peach pie with The Peach Truck peaches and a flaky crust from Steven’s pastry dough recipe. Side of vanilla ice cream, please, or whipped cream, or both!

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7) Apparently I do canning now.

Canning and preserving is something I once said “I don’t do.” Well, things change, honey. This season on the farm, we’ve been honing in more and more on “our lane,” what we’re truly best at that utilizes our passions and gifts successfully. We feel that bringing together the culinary with the farming is getting closer and closer to it. Growing produce in order to make unique artisan jams for our farm store has definitely been a success this season, so that’s good! We started with Strawberry Serrano and Strawberry Balsamic Thyme in the spring, moving on to Peach Chipotle and Peach Bourbon Vanilla, then mid-summer to Blueberry Basil and Blueberry Lavender, and finishing the summer season with three tomato jams: Sicilian Tomato, Tomato Bacon, and Heirloom Tomato Gochujang. We love bringing together our unique cultures to the flavors and opening people’s minds to new combinations. The Heirloom Tomato Gochujang was my favorite tomato jam - at the very last minute, Steven tasted it and said it needed some “umami.” He added some Korean red pepper paste (gochujang) and it was just the thing to take it over the edge from “a good tomato jam” to bombshell.

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Jam. Summer in a jar.

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Jam. Summer in a jar.

8) Sunflowers are my spirit flower.

Let’s be honest - we’ve known this since freshman year of college, haven’t we? Sunflower perfume, sunflower posters on the walls, sunflower comforter, sunflower sheets, sunflower necklace, sunflower everything (ya with me, all of you who started college in the 90s?!). But growing sunflowers is a whole other story. We planted two 100-foot rows of them this year, and I literally feel a spark fly within me when I harvest my own sunflowers at golden hour. Such a joy.

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9) Music can still move me to tears.

The absolutely brilliant songwriter Ryan O’Neal of the band Sleeping At Last has written an album called Atlas with a song for each Enneagram type. Each song is its own work of art, with every note and phrase carefully crafted to reflect the nuances of each Enneagram type. The Nine song brought tears, especially this lyric:

Choked up, I realize / I've been less than half myself / For more than half my life

Oh man.

If you know your type, definitely look up the lyrics and listen to the Sleeping At Last podcast episode about each number. Here’s something songwriter Ryan O’Neal said in the Nine episode that struck me: “There are times when the waters aren’t supposed to be calm. And that’s okay too.”

10) DUMBO is even better than I remembered.

Um, hello, this part of NYC has exploded! For those of you who don’t know, DUMBO is a section of Brooklyn right on the water - it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This summer, my girls and I (while Steven held down the fort back home) visited family in Queens, and we spent an entire morning and afternoon playing and exploring in DUMBO. The last time I visited this area, maybe 7 years ago, there were some little boutiques and coffee shops, but that’s all I really remember. Now, there are amazing play areas and gorgeous parks on the water (including the magical Jane’s Carousel!), art exhibits, so many artisan ice cream shops you can hardly choose, and the brand-new Time Out Market indoor food hall with everything from Michelin-star ramen to barbecue to an entire restaurant built around the avocado. It was the best day getting my city fix. I’m sold, DUMBO.

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11) Sometimes it takes being with old, faithful friends to find yourself again.

Some of our dearest friends, Chris and Julie Bennett, visited us for a few days last month, and it’s been over 7 years since we’ve all been together. Do you have friends like that who you’ve known for almost 25 years and have walked with you through so many struggles and different versions of yourself? With Julie, I feel like I came home to myself again, remembering who I am. I’m actually funny. I’m silly. I’m joyful. I wear unicorn glitter makeup to Target. I’m not bogged down by fearing the “what-ifs” of life and I’m reveling in the present and looking to the future with hope. The fact that they put aside a few days to come and be with us meant the world to me. It was utterly lifegiving. We also got to record an episode together of their weekly web series, AT HOME. Check it out!

Here’s me and the fearless Julie on the farm, and on my wedding day…

Baileys and Bennetts

Baileys and Bennetts

YOUR TURN! What are some things you learned this summer? I’d love to hear!