"We’re going to the beach!" I shout at them as I run to retrieve the beach towels buried under the laundry pile, the swimsuits tucked in the back of their drawers and the beach bag that hasn’t left the corner I shoved it in since the last beach trip more than two months ago.
This summer brought many adventures but regular beach trips just didn’t seem to make the list. Weather was funny, schedules complicated, perhaps the production of bringing three daunting enough to choose other options. And when we promised to make August all about the beach, an unexpected ecoli outbreak kept us out for what we thought was for good.
September, however, decided to surprise us. Just when we thought our goodbyes to summer were final, a stretch of summer weather pops up to say hello. And serendipitously, the contamination scare in the lake was lifted at just the right time.
I may still consider myself a Minnesota newbie but I know enough to understand you don’t stare a gift fish in the water on a hot day in the mouth, or something like that. You throw on your suit and you get in that water no matter what the date on the calendar says.
The moment our bikes pulled up to the sandy shore, no one wasted any time, including the babe with the newly discovered mobility. I followed them slowly though. I wanted to enjoy every minute. As my feet hit the sand, it had been so long it almost felt like the first day of summer again. I thought back to that day, how I sat in anticipation of the months ahead. The beginning of summer holds hope and excitement like ice cream scoops on a cone. But like that ice cream, it melts quickly. Summer went fast. It always does. And here we were slurping up one last bite in hopes to make that taste last all winter long, until the next beginning again.
I like beginnings. I like the newness. I like the anticipation and hope of what will become. But beginning is just step one. It’s just the first moment, the first step, the first dig of toes into sand. The parts that follow, that is where the story gets interesting.
This year as I explore the word BEGIN, I am learning all the different ways that word can teach me. For the summer season, I focused on the part of begin as this:
To come into being.
To begin is not just to start, it also recognizes what comes after, that you will become something.
I think this is why I love exploring my writing. Choosing to be a writer was step one. But to come into this, I had to begin to take the steps.
If I were pressed to come up with one word that describes this summer it is WRITING. Sure, there were adventures and arguments, excitement and exhaustion, memories and messes. But through it all I made a point to keep returning to my writing. I believe I owe this to a decision I made at at the very beginning of summer. I joined the Exhale writing community.
As described on the site "Exhale is a monthly membership community designed to empower women to pursue creativity alongside mothering, for the enrichment of both experiences." An offshoot of Coffee and Crumbs, the Exhale membership community is a space for me to find inspiration, support, and education, all centered around the idea creativity matters, especially for mothers. I didn’t need this permission, but I am glad I have it. Writing matters to me, and in this community I am reminded every day that others feel that way too.
If this matters to you too, I have good news! Exhale is open for membership! Today through October 11 you can join along side me. Visit the website to learn more. And if you interested, be sure to use this promotional code RACHEL5 for $5 off your first month membership. I would love to see you there with me!
With the motivation of this community, writing was a big priority in my summer. For this, I feel the greatest lesson on Begin came from my own writing. Here are pieces of my writing published in the month of August I have not yet shared on this site. As I come into being as a writer, these are the Four Lessons on Beginning I Learned this Summer.
Writing takes time. I have to choose to write instead of something else, particularly sleep. But the clarity, the resolution, the fulfillment that writing offers brings rest and peace to my days. This is why it matters.
Being a storyteller is important in my processing and reflection of my days. But I must remember to always keep trying to find the true story and not the one clouded by frustration. There is always a beautiful story to tell when I take the time to look for it.
I can grow and change right along with my children. It is important to gather "supplies" like commitment, time, support, space, and goals are even better than those pretty pens I collect on my desk (those are fun too!) If it matters to me to see my children growing and changing and learning, it should matter for myself as well.
This might be my favorite piece I wrote all summer. I was invited to share a piece of writing for the Birch Scroll, a publication for the American Birkebeiner Association, from the perspective of a spectator. DIfferent from my regular flow of motherhood thoughts, this challenged me to tell a new story. This was fun for me. Also, I joked that I could be published by the New York Times but nothing would make my dad more proud than seeing my writing in his beloved cross country skiing magazine. It is a good feeling to make your parents proud.
But more importantly, this piece also reminds me that being a cheerleader in other’s endeavors is important to. I think that is why the Exhale community has been such a life line for me. Cheering for other’s success is inspiring for my own journey. There is space for everyone. I hope you will join in too.
I sat on that beach and watched my children squealing with delight at the chilly water, feeling the sand sink between my toes for what I recognized as the last time for months. The next time we do this everyone will be older. For that is what happens. We all grow. I’m looking forward to seeing where that growth takes us, who we all will become. Until then, goodbye Summer, hello Fall.
PS If you haven’t read enough of my words, check out my other lessons on Beginning…