This summer, I thought I failed.
You see, summers have been my time to shine. My time to get out and see the world – or, at least, the world within driving distance from my house. When your husband is a teacher, this is the only time you get to be out and about together. James and I would make it a goal to take a road trip to a new state or province each summer to celebrate our anniversary, not to mention countless mini-adventures in between.
Our summer anniversary road trips have been as such:
2013 (honeymoon): Winnipeg, Canada
2014: Black Hills, South Dakota
2015: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
2016: Niagara Falls, New York – including Toronto, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Wisconsin’s Door County
2017: Yellowstone, Wyoming
2018: the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
Not as grand as the last few years, is it?
Here’s what happened:
In addition to a big summer road trip, James and I have been taking smaller Fourth of July road trips around Lake Superior. We spent 2016 and 2017 in the Grand Marais neighborhood, and I booked us a trip to the Apostle Islands for this year’s Fourth of July. When I booked that trip, I was aware that I would be in grad school and would have considerably less free time. What I WASN’T aware of is that I would also have a new job. Combine those two things, and you’ve got yourself one full summer.
I spent this summer slogging through grad school readings and projects, working my butt off at my new job, and looking longingly at my friends’ adventures on social media. (I know that social media has been proven to make you feel worse about your life, but IT’S JUST SO HARD TO STAY AWAY.) Everyone else seemed to be living their best and most adventurous lives, and what was I doing? Writing a paper about management theory, that’s what I was doing. Yes, a worthy cause, but I would much rather be out adventuring. Summer is so fleeting, and winter so long… I wanted to squeeze every bit of joy out of summer 2018, and I wasn’t doing that.
But here I am, standing at the end of summer 2018 and looking back. And you know what? I got WAY more done than I thought I did.
Here’s what I did this summer:
Tulip Festival in Orange City with my mom and brother
a weekend in the cities to celebrate my friend Nate’s birthday
Memorial Day weekend at my parents’ Lake Poinsett cabin
finished my spring semester and started my summer semester
a weekend of classes
a weekend in Duluth watching James run a marathon
a weekend at the cabin, floating on a giant pink flamingo
camping at the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin
the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, including waterskiing
a weekend in LaCrosse, Wisconsin to hear my family play the National Anthem for the LaCrosse Loggers
my uncle’s memorial service in Brookings, which meant time with some great family I don’t often get to see
another weekend of classes
kayaking x 2 on the Rock River
finished the summer semester with As, placing me at officially halfway through with my masters
a camping weekend in Bemidji and Itasca State Park
the annual Lake Poinsett shrimp boil at the cabin
started the fall semester of school
(I also worked one Saturday each month, did all sorts of other work stuff, and wrote SO MANY PAPERS.)
And if you’re a purist like me, summer’s not over until after Labor Day, so I still have a solid two weekends for summer fun.
Turns out? Every summer weekend was full, just like summers gone by. The only difference is that my weekends were full with activities closer to home. And with my new job, I actually ended up working FEWER summer weekends this year than before. My new library is not open on Sundays, and Saturday shifts are only 9am-2pm. In contrast, my old job required 8am-5pm on Saturdays and 12:30pm – 5pm on Sundays. Not only that: I only work one Saturday a month now. Previously, I worked every third Saturday and every fourth Sunday. This is GREAT.
You may have seen a mention of my parents’ cabin on Lake Poinsett. Early this summer, my parents purchased a cabin at our favorite place on earth (that would be Lake Poinsett, of course). We have spent years and years at our friends’ cabin (RIGHT NEXT DOOR!), but this year, we finally had a lake home of our own. Spending time at that cabin with my friends and family has been the best part of this summer, and I anticipate it being the best part of many summers to come.
So when all is said and done, this summer wasn’t at all a failure. All I needed to do was measure my success not as distance traveled, but by time spent. Time spent with the people I love, and time spent working towards something important.
Summer 2019 is already shaping up to be an awful lot like summer 2018. I will still be in grad school, and summer is the busy season at any public library. But I’m ok with it. As long as I can get to Lake Poinsett, that is.