5 Lessons Learned this Summer

Five growing up lessons I learned this summer about myself, work, christianity, and ginger beer punctuated by the beautiful Salem, MA and Boston, MA harbors.


Salem MA Harbor Derby Salem Lighthouse

1. The two most questions to learn to ask as a critical thinker and kick-ass adult are: What is the context. What are the possible consequences. Every time I get myself into trouble it’s pretty much because I forget to ask these questions. Yeah, I got myself into a little bit of trouble this summer, but it wasn’t terrible enough to blog about it.

Mahi Mahi Cruise Marblehead Lighthouse Salem Harbor Sunset

2. I am a morning-not-a-morning person. Every person who has ever lived with me can vouch that I’m a grumpy gus from the moment I roll out of bed until at least an hour later, or when I get my first cup of coffee – whichever happens first. I don’t like small talk, whiny kids, or anything that stands in my way.

Which is why I was so surprised to take the Employee Engagement Accelerator Index at my work and have a lightbulb realization that when it comes to WORK, I am most definitely a morning person.  I get the most items on the check list checked off, am able to write decent prose, and function credibly and skillfully at meetings. On the other hand, if you get me at 3pm, all of these abilities have strongly declined.  So. I guess I am a morning person. Kind of.

Boston Harbor

3. I am still excited by Industrial Organizational Psychology – the study of behavior and motivation in the workplace.  As I’m finishing up my MS degree I’m not required to take any more classes, but surprise, I am motivated to learn more about this topic.  Unlike the end of my undergraduate career, where I wanted to run as far away as I could from all things academic, I’m still reading and learning the way theory and practice blend together. This summer I have been reading Aubrey Daniels “Bringing out the Best in People,” Donald Brown’s “Experiential Approach to Organization Development”, and plenty of great HBR articles and blog posts.

Cosco Shipping Freight Georges Island Boston

4. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, be a servant to all.  And service can only be Christian if you take the same attitude as Christ, in humility through prayer.  So many times I have forgotten basic lessons in Christianity, and it’s nice to be reminded of them through a very intense summer. It required more prayer than usual, and service outside of my comfort zone as well as finally, squarely, inside of it.  Although I haven’t always been sure of my spiritual gifts this summer I was able to exercise some of them in a very good way.

Georges Island Boston Ma Georges Island Boston Ma

5. Ginger Beer is where it’s at.  A few years ago I vowed to drink more liquor, which didn’t really happen.  In the last 3 weeks I’ve been working oh-so-hard to learn to make better drinks as part of my #30by30. Part of this, has just been understanding more about the basic components of drink making.  The other part has involved drinking plenty of Moscow Mules and Dark and Stormys.

How about you? Any lessons learned this summer?

Pictures from my Salem Harbor Mahi Mahi cruise and trip to Georges Island in the Boston Harbor last week – Another 30by30 crossed off the list.

Be sure so follow along with my #30by30 progress on facebook – I update a lot more there than here.

The Key to a Great Summer

It’s July.

How did that happen?

I’m a planner and a doer by nature – and between those two, I slightly emphasize planning more than doing. It’s very easy for me to forget there are three components of every experience – anticipating, participating, and remembering.

So often, rather than remembering – or savoring – the experiences that I’ve had, I’m off planning the next experience.


Reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” in May and June, however, taught me something new.

The Remembering Self is in Control

What does that mean?

Daniel Kahneman tells the story of two groups of subjects who were invited to participate in a research experiment involving submerging their hands in a bowl of ice water for several minutes. (I know, makes you really want to be a research participant… right?) The first group of people experienced the frigid waters for a few minutes. The second group experienced the frigid waters for the same few minutes, but a key difference was the experimenter had the subjects keep their hands in the water an extra 30 seconds or so, but warm water was added to the bowl, which lessened their discomfort. After rating their experience, participants were more likely to choose to repeat the second, but longer, experience because it ended on high note!

There are several conclusions psychologist draw from this and other research.  They note that there are two “selves.”  One self experiences events – the frigid hands in the water.  Another self remembers that event – but through the lens of completion with a higher priority placed on the end of the event.  That warm water suddenly meant the experience wasn’t that bad… right?

The remembering brain shapes our memories, lives, decisions, and what experiences we will choose to repeat in the future.

How can I use this knowledge?

As I was contemplating my whirlwind June I realized – I want to have a GREAT SUMMER!  I don’t want to look back in August and ask “Where did it go?!”

I’ve decided to Spend More Time Savoring this Summer.

I used a framework I learned earlier this year – More Less Same – in order to focus and prioritize activities so that I could actively savor the summer experiences I love so much, like church softball, camping, and just being outdoors.  I needed to decide what I needed to do more of, and what I needed to do less of, and what I could keep the same.


Have you made a list like this before?

Using a calendar and flipping through my journal, I noted frustrations and triumphs and then listed several things to do more of – so that I could build in more time to Savor.

I want to do MORE…

Pictures – Especially, taking, posting on facebook, and getting into physical photo album form. Although there is always a danger that taking a lot of photos will destroy your memory of an event (citation) – looking at photographs of good times actually increases your happiness and confidence (citation). I’m only so-so about remembering to take pictures – but I want to be better.

Writing – I keep putting writing on the back burner in favor of reading or friend time – but I’d like to move toward more writing, whether it’s journaling, blogging, or even tweeting.

I want to do LESS…

Reading. I’m reading some great stuff right now (especially enjoying co-reading Kyle Strobel’s “Metamorpha” with my husband, and discovering AS King – recommended by LCarsLibrarian. ) But rather than trying to read a book a week, I’m just reading a few chapters at a time.

Exercise.  I’m still trying to run the North Shore Trail Series (Saturday the 12th, 6 miler!) But I’m focusing on maintaining my fitness levels, rather than increase them.

I want to do the SAME…

Praying – As I recently read and found amusing – praying for 30 minutes or more a day actively changes the way your brain works. This is probably about how long I pray every day – so I’d like to keep that the same. I also find prayer to be an excellent way to remember and savor experiences, as well as consider how to reorient your life to reflect your priorities and focal concerns.

Friendship Building – I love how many fun events we’ve been doing with friends lately – from church softball, to family volleyball, up to last weekend time spent camping.  I definitely want to keep going out a couple times a week in a socializing low-key fashion, but finding time to rest after each of these activities is key as well.

camping walk

So what about “Summer To-Do’s?”

Like other friends, I love making Summer To-Do lists, and have in the past… but I’m not going to this year.  There are a lot of items from my “30 by 30 list” that fall I want to check off – and that fall into the “More” and “Less” category.   I’m hoping to finish a wedding photo album before my 4th anniversary, as well as write some Thank You cards to big influences in my life.

Finally, I want to look ahead to August and plan a peak experience for sometime at the end of the summer – something that I can both anticipate – as well as savor as extra enjoyable.

How about you? What are you doing More, Less, and the Same of this Summer?

As always comment here, or on my facebook page.


Things I don’t like. Things I do.

Things I don’t like:

  1. Shopping.
  2. Long flat bugs with lots of legs crawling out of the bookshelf.
  3. Several hours with no structure in place.*
  4. Worrying about whether I should be wearing bracelets. Seriously?!
  5. Forgetting to bring a snack downtown.

Things I like:

  1. Walking by riotous gardens full of flowers.
  2. Ideas for big and small projects
  3. Frozen Bananas
  4. Asking “What do you think …” questions to a 2 year old.
  5. Barnacles.

* Exception: While on Vacation.

Recent Thoughts and Summer Plans

The semester ended not with a bang, but a whimper.

This is how graduate school has been for me thus far -no big rush to finals, just the steady taper down of long papers ending with a last conclusion, the ultimate period.  A single meeting attempts to encapsulate a semester worth of work.  Questions are not answered, but instead are revolved so that you can begin to pick away at them from another side, another perspective.

As I slowly reclaim the 25-30 hours a week I was spending on study and class much of it is taken up with the small joys of parenting, more elaborate cooking projects, and the neglected house cleaning.  But, not all.

At the beginning of the semester I decided I was going to blog less due to study pressures. Even though I have more time on my hands, I’ve still decided to continue posting a mere 3- 5 times per month. Other things have been beckoning me lately and require more attention.

You may notice I’ve done a little tweaking once again on this blog.  I read this book about re-branding by Dorie Clark – a timely read as I sit squarely in the middle of reinventing myself professionally, as my group blog project considers a new direction, and I am forced to once again evaluate my online presence.  I’m still all about life lessons and reflections here at All Growing Up, but I’ve attempted to re-organize by several of the other long-standing themes which stretch through the last 10 – 25 years of my life.

Love God. Love People. Live Sustainably. Read a lot. Blog a little.

Here’s how I see these things playing out over the summer.

Love God.

  • A return to scripture memorization.  Although I have mostly committed the Beatitudes to memory – the goal of 12 passages is… far from realized.
  • Plans and curricula for team – teaching Sunday School in the fall with a respected friend from church.
  • Service, Humility and Gratitude – three themes from reading through Luke that I hope to work on this summer.

Love People.

  • Reading this recent article about the most cost-effective ways to relieve third world poverty – and then putting some extra money toward good work this summer.
  • Celebrating family milestones like birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.
  • Teaching E that we all work together as a family, and starting to plan for little chores that he can do.
  • Spending summer days with friends encouraging one another to grow, thrive, and live deeply.

Live Sustainably.

  • I’ve talked about how we cut our trash in half – but honestly, some of those accomplishments were low-hanging fruit.  Reading Bea Johnson’s blog and book has prompted me to make a list of 10 pernicious single-use-plastic things I can work to eliminate from our kitchen/home/lifestyle.  I’m sure I’ll talk about it later on. And seriously – girl makes Zero Waste look damn stylish.
  • Working on a blog project with Salem Recycles that I really hope goes somewhere.
  • Making connections with the Boston Area Sustainability Group.  Excited about new information and friends.
  • Promoting sustainability in my church.

Read a lot.

  • My main summer reading projects revolve around business/consulting classics such as: Flawless Consulting (P. Block), Competitive Strategy M. Porter), and Process Consultation (E. Schein). And how Sustainability relates to the workplace.
  • I’m also very excited about reading a couple recommendations from librarian and blogger Anna – like Rot and Ruin.
  • Part of working on sunday school curriculum also involves delving into the connections between theology, eco-theology and food.  All interests of mine.

Blog a little.

  • As noted, I’m attempting to divide my blogging emphasis between three outlets: All Growing Up. Connect Shore, and Salem Recycles.
  • Expect forays into micro-blogging – aka twitter. I only use it thus far to pass on links – but I’d love to actually create some content and experiment with it.
  • Looking for new blogs to read! – I’m searching for good Green blogs, and good business blogs in particular – do you have any suggestions?

So there you have it, a long to do list for the summer. It isn’t exhaustive – but I feel good about it.

And you? What have YOU been thinking about lately? I’d love to know!

A Moveable Feast – Dinner en Blue

Sometimes I get these crazy wonderful ideas that come to me like dreams – all the fragments of past reading and present experience mesh together in an almost haze of believability.

Reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast earlier in the year –  Seeing the photos from Art Throb‘s Diner en Blanc in Salem – Dreaming of one last summer hurrah and so the Progressive Picnic / Dinner en Blue was born.

Our lovely group of about 20 people trouped from appetizers at Long Hill in Beverly, to supper on the Great Lawn of the Coolidge Reservation in Manchester by the Sea, to dessert partaken at Singing Beach by starlight.

It was really everything I imagined it would be – and probably merits a re-do next summer as well.

As usual, I was far too busy enjoying myself to take many photographs.  But here are a few.

An A-Maize-ing Good Time

I love a good corn-y joke as much as the next person, which is why when my dad told me about the Davis Mega Maze in Sterling, MA I was excited about going.  There were no holds barred when it came to the advertising the Davis Farm used at the maze – this is the Safest Maze, A Physically and Mentally Challenging Maze, and Most Complex Maze in the World!

Since it was my first ever corn maze (and my son’s)  I don’t have anything to compare it to.  But I can say it was a lot of fun, and a great family activity for all ages.   I didn’t realize that each year they have a different theme, but they do.  This year was “Clue” and there was a murder mystery to solve as we stumbled our way through the maze stalking out clues and completing various adventure activities.

Puzzling out the Clues at the Davis Mega Maze

Although the maze seems pricey to me  (16.95 for adults?), we got a discount through my dad’s work and easily filled up two hours of time there just enjoying the maze.  However, if you really need a bang for your buck, they have preliminary activities set up before you enter the maze – such as as a giant chess game, checkers, a spider web and plenty more.  A word to the wise – bring water, and your own snacks, although they have the hilariously named “Crow Bar” as a place to refresh in the “middle” of the maze.  (It’s the center of the puzzle, but not the geographic middle).

Overall, I definitely recommend this as a fun summer activity (and I’m glad I put it on my summer to-do list).

Summer To Do’s

I love… the listing of possibilities, the extravagance of a long summer, knowing the best weather will stretch well into September.

Thanks to Kerrie over at Sea Kettle Diaries, I have made a more pleasing version of this Summer’s to do list than in past years.  This is a certainly an upgrade from ripped notebook pages.

of course… there is room at the bottom to add plenty more activities.