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Are you dancing yet?
A Mid-Summer Check-in
This post is part of The Summer Prep Series
The mindset, curation, and organization for a summer of family connection, and growth at home.
If July 29th were a friend, she would wear a large brimmed hat that flopped as it caught and released this late morning breeze. Her wild wavy locks would float in every direction around her face shoulders and back, almost as if gravity didn’t quite have the same hold on her as it did for the rest of us. She would have an easy going way about her, at times wandering along her favourite forest path unhurried and observing, and others, a resolve to find any reason to lead her off that very path and into the unknown.
When I think of this vision of mid-summer ease, I can’t help but think of the way 5 year old Flora drops her violet colouring pencil part way into her imaginative, detailed drawing of a fairy’s dress at the notice of a Cabbage White butterfly landing on our newly planted Anise Hyssops.
The way nearly 7 year old Isla plans to go for a bike ride along the river but finds herself consumed by the abundance of white mulberries before she has a chance to get her helmet buckled up. Moments later, after calling on the neighbourhood children, she’s harvesting for hours before opening up their very own berry shop on our driveway. They eventually draw in a troop of curious and calorie depleted cyclists who can’t help but stop, intertwining the adventures of each group into something even more magnificent.
At ages 5 and 7, they are each feeling out their own balance of hours spent carefree and structured time within our home, our gardens, and the world beyond. Nate and I are there with boundaries, and guidance disguised as ideas to consider. The consequences of scrapes from running too fast, headaches from too much sun and not enough water, wet runners when water shoes or bare toes would have been more appropriate, and tired tears in the evenings when bedtime can’t come soon enough, are doing the heavy lifting for us.
We started off summer with a reduced number of materials on our shelves to alleviate the pressures of tidying up, and encourage more creative work and outdoor play. Newly defined work areas have allowed 3 kids and 2 adults in a smallish space to work relatively peacefully together across weekdays and weekends. Neighbouring kids have come and found their own moments of quiet and focus, a reprieve from the generally energetic play, finding a seat at the weaving table to learn to tie bows on the dressing frame, or working through the layers of a body puzzle in our movement and bathroom space, a setup I like to think Dr. Montessori would smile about.
Our 1924 farmhouse came with an unfinished bathroom and bedroom combo. For now, it’s one of the children’s favourite spaces. Self care and education in it’s many forms :)
By any measure, our space is functioning better for us than it was this spring. We’ve familiarized ourselves with it’s systems and proximities and can move through our rhythms with ease. We know the beat and the steps now.
And then sometimes we’re not.
There have been days where the music didn’t start on time, or at all. Those are the days that I needed to start humming so that we can find our rhythm again. We sing through our feelings, we act out tough situations. Matters of the heart are sewn into embroidery hoops or expressed through layers of paint, while we talk through our troubles.
There have been days where I’m so tired or pulled in every direction that I’ve forgotten the steps, or that we had any choreography to follow at all. Those are the days where the systems, rhythms, boundaries and lessons of days past have carried us forward.
Maybe you’re floating and swaying with the beat some days, and then tripping and toppling too?
As I sit here, thinking of those that help me return to the beat I seek to groove to, I’m feeling extraordinarily grateful to be part of a species that is biologically inclined to be cooperative and generous with our knowledge and ideas.
This June and July was full of that generosity.
Tara Brach’s guidance helped me to let go of what was making me feel small and disconnected and to open to a truer sense of myself.
Bittersweet author Susan Cain offered reassurance that what feels like a detour from the main road, is all the main road on a recent episode of Lex Fridman’s podcast.
Earlier this month a close friend of mine and I reminisced about the day she recommended I read Mindset by Carol Dweck, a life changing book for me. It was a deeply thoughtful and loving gesture that at this moment brings me both a smile and a tear. No doubt a symptom of summer - long, beautiful, and tired days are making me a little extra emotional.
Last weekend a second cousin’s daughter arranged an afternoon in Niagara region for us to share a meal at their family’s restaurant, a tour us around their beautiful and historic lakeside town, and by chance, experience the passing down their family bee keeping tradition and business to the next generation. We saw my mom’s cousin at her first official honey harvesting that day along side her parents and sons. The knowledge shared with us that day felt nothing less than sacred.
On the other side of Canada, 600 Sq Ft and a baby blogger and small space consultant Alison Mazurek shared her internet friend’s warm and minimalist space, reminding me that this place we all come to every day to look for connection and growth, really is a place where we can find what we’re looking for.
Maybe it’s using what you already have in a fresh way, or understanding the transition from the absorbent toddler mind to a more independent (and at times overly cooperative) child. Perhaps it’s setting up new work stations, or a nudge to get in touch with me to help you design and modify your family learning and living spaces.
I've received some really beautiful messages in the past couple months from readers and followers sharing why they’re here. I’d love to hear from you so feel free to send me a note, or leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Always learning with you,
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From start to *almost* finish:
June 24th - Part 3’s follow up resources
July 29th - Half-way Check-in (you are here!)
August 30th - Summer Reflection