What I learned on my summer vacation

As the summer holidays draw to a close, I like to think over what I’ve learned. This year, I was lucky enough to have two European getaways, making up for lost time after a few years of illness. I’ve missed the perspective that travelling overseas gives me and these trips could not have come at a better time.

I’ve also spent much of the summer reading wonderful books (my list is here.) Reading has always been my best inspiration for writing and as the writing of my own book draws to a close, I’m so appreciative of other people’s efforts. They were all good (if I read a total dud, I don’t post it since I know how much effort goes into even a bad book) but the winner winner was Claire Lombardo’s The Most Fun We Ever Had, which is a juicy family saga with fascinating characters. It carries nicely into fall if you are looking for a great weekend read, as does Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. I’m currently reading The Measure of My Powers by Jackie Kai Ellis after falling in love with her stunning Paris apartment.


It’s a wonderful memoir about food, depression, love and Paris. I’m also finishing up Educated by Tara Westover, which is also a terrific memoir not unlike The Glass Castle. Like travel, memoirs provide terrific perspective.

I watched a bunch of movies on the flight home. I rewatched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I love those films. Lots of food for thought. And Julie Delpy provides such style inspiration.

via Pinterest

I think there have been four lessons this summer:

The world is wide. Sometimes, I feel like I will be trapped in suburbia forever, but I know that’s not true. And this summer’s day trips into the city and trips to Rome and Paris have shown me that the urban, art-filled life I desire is available temporarily through travel and then permanently once the kids have launched. I also want to expose my kids to other ways to live so that if they don’t like the path they are on, they will have the courage to change routes. I think that is the greatest gift one can give one’s children.

Slow is good. I often find the acquire and achieve mindset so oppressive so it was refreshing to discover an unplugged world out there. From the patrons in Paris taking the time to read a book over their lunch hour to families in Minori spending the entire day floating on the sea, there is so much out there beyond the hustle.

Everything has a season. Nobody seemed to be rushing the season overseas. The stores were still filled with summer clothes on clearance. Everyone was still sipping lemon-filled summer drinks. There was no pumpkin-spiced anything. August was permitted to be August. In the past, I’ve found myself wanting to rush to the next phase instead of embracing this one. Now is my time to see my kids launched, learn a new language, and finish my book. It’s hard to be patient when everyone is rushing forward but it’s good to wait. I came home not wanting to shop (in spite of the fall magazines in my mailbox) or rush or make plans (Ok, perhaps I wanted to make plans to return to Paris.) I feel the need to slow down and savour and be grateful for my ability to do not much rather than cast around for the next thing to keep me busy. I’ve been so frustrated that my eye surgery and endometriosis and vertigo has slowed me down without realizing there is a purpose in slow.

Aging is good. I also have a desire to embrace my age. I loved seeing the 50 year old Parisian women who looked 50. I’ve never been one of those ‘go down swinging’ people when it comes to my age and frankly, I think that age-appropriate always looks younger than trying-too-hard. If fillers and such are your thing, go for it. It’s just not for me.

Did you have any life lessons this summer?



  1. Jen loved this.. So feel the same after a trip to Europe. Makes me want to slow down and savor the small details of daily life. Loved your Italy trip post too. We did the same 2 years ago, but should have gone too Capri. We did stay in Sorrento and Positano. Off to read your France post! x Kim


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