How I Made This Summer One of My Best

Well, the inevitable came. Snow. Way too early, but I live in Alberta…it was coming. It’s the middle of September and as I’m sitting here writing this, there’s a bunch of white crap falling from the sky onto my lawn that desperately needed a mow and rake (that’ll be fun 🙄). My kids have been back at school now for just over a week – and I’ve been thrilled to be back into routine…but man do I ever miss summer.

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Accurately portrays me this morning, when I saw the snow…summer, please come back

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for three summers now. This past one being my third. The first two summers I was bound and determined to make them the best summers ever for my kids (Ciara and Paxton had previously spent every summer of their lives in daycare).

That was my first mistake…focusing so much on making it a great summer just for my kids…and forgetting about me. I matter too. I deserve a good summer too, with more than just my kids in the memories. I love my kids more than anything – but they’re not my entire life. I would die for them – but I also want to live. So before the haters start hating let me just say this…

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…and let me do me.

So how was this summer the best? I spent time with people who make me laugh, make me feel good. Good people. This is everyone from family, my kids, my husband, and of course my friends. I’ve made my circle. I made choices on what to do this summer, based solely on what I want to do with those in my circle. I didn’t revolve summer plans around just my kids.

I can feel it – the judgy moms are judging! But hear me out…my kids are the biggest part of my circle. I didn’t put them in camps, or sports this past summer. We just lived each day as it came and made plans on the fly most of the time. We made memories, without feeling like we HAD to. If you were to ask my kids if they enjoyed summer, each of them will say they had. They spent time with their friends, family and we even had some days where we just laid around and did nothing…and it was wonderful. I know…it felt wrong at first to me too.

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On our way to go camping in the mountains with family!

My husband had to work most of the summer, with just a few hours at home at any given time. But we made sure to use every second of his time at home by spending time together as a family – and making sure all of our buckets were full before he had to leave again. We cherished every minute together, because we had no idea when the next one would be or if it’d be even shorter. It is thanks to my husband working so hard that I was able to enjoy summer so much.

My kids aren’t the only ones I wanted to make memories with. I spent time away from the kids; laughing and making memories with other adults. Some of these friends aren’t parents so some of those nights weren’t even filled with kid talk! Some of these memories are so great that I can’t remember them all unless reminded…

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Not only did I make sure to make time and memories with my friends, but I was also careful with who I choose to spend time with. Let’s face it – summer is always too short. There’s never enough of it. I wanted to be sure to spend time with people who lifted me up, made me feel good and the less drama the better! The past few years I’ve made note of how I felt when leaving a get together with someone – did I feel drained or full?

I spent time with those people in my life who make me feel full – and because of that, my memories this summer are full of love, laughter, and in some cases, new friendships were formed.

Now again – summer is short. And I am blessed to have many positive, up-lifting, good people in my life. I did not get the chance to spend as much time with some people as I had wanted – but that’s just because life got in the way and summer is short! But that doesn’t mean I love you any less! If anything I love you even more – because our friendship/relationship doesn’t suffer if we only get a chance to see each other once in awhile.

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Did I mention, summer is short? Short but oh so sweet. But just because my favorite season is over, doesn’t mean I can’t make this the best winter ever (apparently mother nature just wants to skip over Fall this year). And then the best Spring and then before I know it, it’ll be Summer again and next summer will be even better than this one. And without realizing it – all of a sudden I’m living the best life I could have ever hoped for (still some dreams floating out there).

Live in the moment. And cherish your moments. Give value to yourself and your time. Choose your circle based on who makes you feel good – and then love them hard. Summer isn’t the only thing that’s short – so is life. Make it your best life.

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Not just one – multiple. My circle. And it goes both ways.

 

 

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When You Grow Away From Your Friends

We’ve all experienced growing apart from some of our friends. Friends you may have gone to school with, or friends you met later in life. You just ended up taking different paths and lost touch. It happens. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking; sometimes it’s because life needed to teach you something from that friendship. A friendship that served a purpose, and not a lifetime. But when you have friends that you grow away from, it’s so special, beautiful, and something only the strongest friendships can survive. We’ve all heard it: some friends are in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

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When I hit junior high, I met friends that I’d eventually grow away from, not apart from. I just didn’t know it yet. Because of my scars, I felt like a major outcast. I had a hard time making friends. Lots of kids were nice to me. No one bullied me to my face. But I wanted friends. Real friends.

In grade seven it all began. I started hanging out with a group of kids who were considered the outcasts. This is where I felt like I fit in. I felt loved, accepted and like I’d found my forever friends. I always felt, and still do feel, that these friends will always have my back. More on that in a minute.

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We hung out together all throughout school up until graduation. Some of us ended up going to different high schools and this is where the growing away from each other started. Although at the time, it felt like we were just growing apart. We knew it was bound to happen.

I didn’t stay in touch with any of these friends after high school. It wasn’t until three years after graduating that I realized these friends, were lifelong friends. I had received a call from a friend from this group. I hadn’t talked to her in six years – we were just living different lives. But she was calling to tell me that a mutual friend of ours from school had passed away. His name was Alex. I was extremely close to Alex throughout junior high. The friend who had called me to tell me about his death, Andrea, did not know my number or where I lived. But she happened to remember my parents phone number which is how she found me. We were both so devastated over Alex’s death. Nobody got to say goodbye. He was so young. And the first in our group to pass away. We were in our early 20s – too young. Andrea and I talked a lot after this. We decided that our friendship was too important, life was too short and could be over in a second, so we made a vow to never let anything make us grow apart from each other again. Almost 13 years from that devastating call about Alex, she is my best friend. She is my confidant, my sister, my soul-friend. And we are very much in each other’s lives, even though our lives are so different. We are not growing away or apart from each other anymore.

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Andrea and I heading to a concert – our favorite thing to do

Although Andrea and I talk practically every day and see each other as often as possible, there are more people in this group from school who I feel lucky enough to call lifelong friends. I don’t talk to them everyday, and sometimes I only see them once a year (if that), but thanks to social media we can stay caught up with each other’s lives. So how does that make them more than just acquaintances?

Again, it took the death of a friend we all knew and loved, and we all grew away from him before he died, to show me what the meaning of friends forever meant. Alex didn’t get a funeral. So all of his friends from junior high and high school got together one night in our home town, and we partied. We celebrated Alex’s life. We shared stories and memories. We shared tears and laughs. The next day, we all went our separate ways, back to our own lives.

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The night of the party for Alex. This was almost 10 years ago and I still love all of these guys so much

But over the years it’s been obvious that we’ll be there for each other when needed. Although we may not get together for coffee dates or nights out anymore, when one of us is in need or hurting, we drop what we’re doing and go be with our forever friends. Some of us have lost a parent or husband over the years. And you can bet we were all there to support our grieving friend at the funeral. We’re also there for happier times; weddings, babies, college graduations. We’re there to support and show our love. Even though we aren’t actively in each other’s lives (social media doesn’t count). I feel so blessed to have this group of friends that I know I can call on if/when I need. I hold them all close to my heart, and I strive to make sure they know it, before it’s too late. So, my forever friends, you know you who are. I hope you know how much I love you. I’m always here for you. Always. If you didn’t know it before, I hope you know it now.

I feel like Alex’s death served a lot of purpose in our childhood friendships. His death reminded us how close we all were when we were kids. His death taught us the value of true friends. Today, October 25, 2017, Alex would have turned 35. I miss him every day and although he’s gone, I can still feel him. He knows how much he’s missed and loved. I hope he does anyway. I wish I was more apart of his life at the time of his death. So that he would have known before he died how much he was cared about.

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Alex. The tattoo is what Andrea and I each got in his memory and for our everlasting friendship. RIP Alex. Happy Birthday.

Do you have forever friends that you grow away from, but love with all your heart? Tell them you love them, even if you aren’t in each other’s lives actively. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Fine Art America
Photo: Fine Art America