Tag Archives: summer

Scenes from Saturday + Canobie Close Out

Before yesterday, thinking about a bright, sunny Labor Day Saturday spent at an amusement park filled me with… a certain kind of sweaty dread.

But also a realization. Summer is over. My sabbatical is almost over. These swaths of free time where the kids are stuck with me are almost over.

Maybe a Saturday at an amusement park with family and friends isn’t something that should fill me with apprehension.

If there is anyone who deserves my best behavior, or my biggest smile, or c’est la vie attitude, it’s them. If there is anyone I should muster patience and energy for, it’s them.

But if they think they’re getting Dippin’ Dots after 5 pm before we have dinner…

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Scenes from Saturday + Burritos of Destiny

My summer sabbatical started last week and I am a little more aware of what the kids are up to during the day. For Ally, especially if the neighborhood is quiet, that typically means doing some sort of arts and craft. I plan to spend part of my time off writing another book and I’m finding Ally’s work an inspiration of sorts.

Is there anything more perfect than a child’s drawings? In order to create or write, I often have to try and reach back to that open-mindedness and naïveté that kid’s just cultivate naturally. Things pour out of them in such an easy way. I’ll go downstairs and find a stack of canvases done or some new project afoot based on a whimsical what-if. I want to try to remember that and get a little closer to that.

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Scenes from Saturday + Humidity & Horticulture

As you read this, I’m likely running trough a hot, tropical, potentially pouring rain storm. And I paid to do it, too. One of my favorite runners, Eliud Kipchoge is famous for smiling at the end of marathons.
I will try to smile through the rain because excitement is a better motivator than discipline.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that the people who appear to have a superhuman work ethic or monk-like discipline aren’t forcing it. They aren’t tricking themselves. Or using the latest life hack. They simply have a genuine curiosity or interest in that area.

The person who smiles is more likely to keep working than the person gritting their teeth.

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Scenes from Saturday + July! July!

We are two weeks into summer. No camps. No dance. No tutors. No theater. No jazz band.

A lot of free time to get splendidly bored. Call it un-schooling if you want.

For me, summer is for simplifying.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up trying to teach them anything.

The world throws a lot at kids. It’s noisy out there with a lot of competing voices. How do I get them to remember anything I tell them, especially during vacation?

By simplifying.

David McCullough’s biography of John Adams includes a great quote: “To be good and to do good, is all we have to do.”

Be good. Do good. When the world gets noisy, that’s not bad advice to fall back on. As parents, or as kids.

Keep it simple this summer. Be good. Do good.

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Scenes from Saturday + Clouds & Cocktails

I woke up yesterday to gray skies and heavy rain. It was not a morning that invited or inspired a morning run. But I had no excuse not to write. A wet and soggy sunrise is practically an invitation to stay inside and dream up a warm and sunny locale.

I’m currently in the soggy middle of the new book and I’m convinced it’s pointless drivel that would be rejected for the back of a cereal box. I also know this is completely normal and happens with just about any creative work. The vision and the reality almost never co-exist.

In fact, I’ve found having a vision of what a book might look like can often be harmful. Squeaky clean artifacts that only exists in your mind can make it really hard to get started. Reality is messy. What I’ve found most helpful is practice. The phrase, just going through the motions, gets a bad rap. A lot of great things, not just creative things, get done by showing up day after day.

It might not match any vision but it will exist. I don’t know exactly where this book is going but I’m going to show up and find out.

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Scenes from Saturday + Lakes & Lines

Reading the last line from Longfellow’s poem “A Psalm of Life” it occurred to me that he could have been talking about parenting:

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Labor and wait. Like planting a vegetable gardening. Or parenting a teenager.

Yesterday’s labor involved water slides and roller coasters.

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Scenes from Saturday + Sweat & Old Couches

[If you don’t subscribe to the book newsletter, a quick update on the next book] It is the dog days of summer and I am in the dog days of writing the next book. I’m approaching half way. If I look over my shoulder, I can no longer see the bright and exciting beginning. If I look ahead, it’s still a bit dark and mysterious. How are you going to get out this one, Max? The only way to find out is to keep going. Get on that treadmill and get some words down each day.

When that happens? Happiness and light. But it does have a darker side. Chasing happiness, even just through writing, can be exhausting. This time around I’m trying instead to focus on being grateful.

G.K. Chesterton said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Unlike happiness, which is more a (fleeting) feeling, gratitude, I think, can be cultivated as a practice. It is a verb, something you do. Happiness is worth acknowledging, but gratitude is worth practicing.

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