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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks


I remember the first summer after graduating college. The shock of having to go to work on a regular basis. I had always had at least one job each summer since I was 16 years old, but this was different. My life had always consisted of working in the real world and then about the time I was getting tired of it, I would head back to school. But this had a permanent feel. The grownups around me told me there was no hope of it getting better, but at least I would get used to it. That was their encouragement?

It changed again when Madi started school. Summers had always been our busiest time for teaching SAT, but now summer consisted of a heavy workload, a child out of school wanting to go to camps, have play dates, and do summer fun kinds of things. And then there was Paul, who wanted to go to the pool for a few hours every day immediately following our workday, which was one of those summer fun things.

I came to associate summer with stress. I would make lists in May of things that needed to be done prior to school ending in hopes of getting organized and getting ahead of the chaos that was guaranteed to ensue.

The plans never worked, and by the beginning of August, I would be stress cleaning. I guess it gave me the illusion of having control over my environment. Everyone seemed to know to steer clear of me when I started cleaning the top of the refrigerator.

Of course things shifted slightly and changed as Madi got older and more independent, but this year has been very different. Madi is not here at all; the bulk of our students aren’t actually starting classes with us until next week, so I’ve had time on my hands and a bum knee that has been keeping my comings and goings restricted. I’ve felt unsettled and in a little bit of a funk. Sorry if that sounds a little ridiculously like “woe is me.“

This morning, Jennifer, a friend of mine, texted and asked how my summer was going. So I told her. I told her I felt stuck in a rut. That I’m used to life moving at 100 mph. Everything has slowed down dramatically, and I don’t know what to do with myself. Paul routinely tells me I will be the worst retired person on the planet. There’s a chance he might not be wrong.

If Jennifer had been hoping my answer to her question would be, “I’m doing fine. Everything’s great,” she never let on. She did give me some very simple, but excellent advice.

She said maybe it’s time to find new things to do that I enjoy or pick up some things I used to do, that I enjoy. Focus on what I want to do instead of what I have to do.

She is 100% right. We spend all this time figuring out that we like to garden, read, paint, fish, knit, take long walks on the beach, and then fail to make time to actually enjoy them. Knowing your hobbies and having a list to trot out when someone asks, does us no good unless we practice having the fun they provide.

So even though works kicks into high gear next week, and I will be a little more short on time, I'm going to strive to make the time to do more fun things!

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