3 things I’ve learned this summer

I‘m back from my summer blogging break, and if there’s anything I learned, it’s that I need to stop calling it a break. It so wasn’t a break. Don’t get me wrong; it was restful and served its purpose, but I worked a lot. That’s why it felt funny when some of you would write me, starting with, “I’m sorry to bother you on your break, but…”

It was simply a temporary hiatus from regular personal publishing here. I welcomed some of my friends to share their words on the Mondays and Fridays when I usually write, and Wednesdays were business as usual with the regular contributors. I am so thankful for the generosity of these friends—there were some seriously memorable posts.

But behind the scenes, I worked on some of the code, I podcasted a few times, I wrote regularly on my Babble column and on (in)courage, and I worked quite a bit on my book. It was good.

I also started running a bit more regularly (thank you, beautiful days), I took my kids to the pool a lot, I’ve been watching the Olympics as I’m able, and—oh yes, we renovated the heck out of a house and then moved in last weekend. It’s been great.

It’s been a good, busy season. Here are a few things I’ve learned—again—this summer:

1. Taking a break isn’t that big a deal to other people.

I was scared to take a break from my blog in 2010, but when I returned five weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that people didn’t really seem to mind. As a recovering people pleaser, I was nervous that I’d disappoint someone. Didn’t really seem to happen.

I now take breaks unapologetically; a shorter one around Christmas and a longer one during the summer. It’s a key ingredient in my salve to prevent burnout.

2. It’s really important to make room for your element.

I’ve written and spoken about “the element” a number of times—that sweet spot where your skills and passions collide, a term beautifully coined by Sir Ken Robinson. Most of this gig as a blogger fits the element bill for me, but there are some tasks that are more dead-on than others.

I’m so unashamedly thankful for Katie, my assistant, and I’m continually learning to share the workload with her—and others—so that I can truly focus on that which fuels me most. Writing.

3. Community. It’s so much about community.

You guys. The other writers and editors here. Blogging friends near and far, and the supremely talented people with whom I share space at the places where I write. The people encouraging me in my book, and of course, my family.

I don’t live in a vacuum, and neither do you. We all need each other, and while that makes life messy and challenging, it’s also the honey on my scone. It just makes everything sweeter.

You? I’m glad you’re here, reading these words. Thank you so much. I’m happy to be “back.”

What’s been the best part of your summer so far?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Beautiful post Tsh. Best part of the summer, I think I will pick fishing with my hubby. 🙂

  2. I’m glad that you took the time you needed to refuel your well! The best parts of my summer has been watching the Olympics with my 3 year old (who is now totally hooked).

  3. Welcome back. The best part of my summer was taking my toddler for her first swim.

  4. Can’t wait to see pictures of the renovations. My husband and I have done 3 homes so far, and are right now helping friends get their once rental ready to sell.

  5. Love hearing your thoughts on your break. I missed your ‘voice’ while you were gone, but I’m glad it was so helpful for you! I think it is great that you are encouraging moms to find their element. I’m still ‘finding’ mine, but getting closer!

  6. i have so enjoyed reading your posts. And I totally appreciate everything you said here. Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m going to try to relax and take time to enjoy my kids for the rest of the summer.

  7. The best part of my summer so far was probably this past weekend when we hand washed the car together as a family. Our two-year old loved putting bubbles all over the car. At the end we allowed her to spray us with the hose and it was a blast.

  8. drawing with my girls in the mornings when we’d normally be rushing off to school. my almost-four year old has mastered aliens, giraffes and party hats and my great big huge seven year old has drawn these incredibly detailed pictures…it’s such a wonderful way to spend the mornings.

  9. Favorite part of summer so far? A successful family road trip with our 3 littles to visit family in Southern Indiana. And realizing that as a second year homeschooler I feel like it’s always summer break 🙂

  10. welcome “back.” our days have been jam-packed with absolutly nothing!…and its been wonderful.

  11. I’m glad you enjoyed your summer break! The best part of my summer holiday has been the fact that I am au pairing in the USA. It’s been a great experience so far.

  12. I am glad you had a great summer.

    Best part for me is realizing that I don’t have to spend money to have a great time with the kids. I used money in the past to buy fun. Not so much this year. And we have done just fine. It has been an adjustment for them, but it is all coming together.

  13. Welcome back from “break” 😉 …
    Anything apart from normal school routine is a welcomed break for me!! Love hangin’ with the kids and starting new projects.

  14. I am so impressed with your list of things done! I’ve been “off” this summer too and haven’t accomplished nearly as much. I think the best part of my summer has been realizing that I need to do some things differently when summer ends–so that I don’t expect so much from these two or so months. Not the funnest or easiest part, but I’m hoping the best in the big picture of my life.

  15. MIssed you Tish! Glad you are back!! Thank you for consistently speaking to the realities of life. Love to you!

  16. Very excited to read more of your words, Tsh. We are in your neck of the woods right now on vacation.
    I’m not letting myself take a blogging break this year (my goal is to volunteer every week in 2012), so yesterday my girls and I volunteered with feeding the homeless at the Bend Community Center. Have you been there yet with your kids? Just wanted to pass along what a great opportunity it was for us and I bet you all would enjoy it, also. You have some powerful servants in your community!

  17. I’m glad you had a sorta, kinda, maybe a little bit of a “break.” It’s good to have you back. My favorite part of the summer has been spending time with my daughter. She graduated from college in May 2011 and has been living at home the past year while she worked at an unpaid internship (what a gyp). She will be leaving for graduate school in 2 weeks and I think from now on when she comes home she will be a visitor with her real life far from our door. She has not been working over the summer so I have been savoring every moment until she leaves.

  18. My dad’s mindset was very shaped by his military service. He used to always remind me that there are 2 important things to learn in life: 1) How to take constructive criticism? and 2) Everyone is expendable. This sounds harsh, but it has always allowed me to take a break, or leave a job I didn’t like, because I acknowledge that someone else may not do things exactly like me, but they can do the job.

  19. So glad to hear you were able to take a break! : ) Best part of this summer for our family has been all of the outdoor activities we’ve been able to do. Last year the youngest member of our family was a small baby, and the year before I was pregnant. This is the first time in 2 years we’ve been able go outside and do a lot of fun stuff, without having to worry about a pregnant mommy in the summer heat, or a baby that needs nursed every 2 hours. It’s been a great summer thus far!

  20. Welcome back Tsh! Breaks are wonderful! Even when we are in our “element” sometimes we need a break from that too.

  21. I enjoyed your blog post and yes everyone needs a break. Sometimes we forget that and we just get caught up in our busy/crazy world and then we wonder why we are so worn out. We just need to stop and take a break. Do something you enjoy, spend time with family and friends or just some alone time is always great!

  22. Wonderful post! I went to BlogHer last week, and came home with a clear vision of the kind of blogger, and mom, that I want and need to be. I realized that it’s important to me to build relationships, one person at a time. I want to be around people who are authentic and companies that live out their vision with integrity. I’d rather work with a few good people than spread myself thin over a lot. Depth is important, not quantity.

  23. Love Ken Robinson.
    I was thinking about this break idea his past week as my little ones go to “school” and I’m getting ready to go back to school. It hasn’t been a break like I used to define things before children, but it definitely has been a change. And, as it turns out, that’s exactly what I needed. I’m hoping I won’t go back to how it was last Spring and that I’ve learned a few things about my life and my marriage a d my children.

  24. This summer has been about spending time with my boys. My youngest will go to junior high this school year, and we had some important areas with regard to responsibility to work on with him. Having the one-on-one time with him this summer has helped him mature tremendously in that area. My oldest has matured in his faith, which is always a tremendous blessing to see. Both my boys have learned to use “to do” lists and how to plan their schedules each week. I have also learned that it’s okay to lighten up on the workload for a couple of months in order to do what’s more important… connect with my family. The workload will be waiting for me when school starts up, and I have more time to myself.

  25. Enjoyed your post! I’ve been working hard this summer on being creative and letting my boys be creative too. Can’t believe summer will be ending soon. Time truly flies!

  26. Welcome back, Tsh!!!!

  27. Missed your voice, Tsh! But I’m in full favor of “breaks” (i.e. doing different work at a different pace.) Sitting at my picnic table this morning with my laptop enjoying another leisurely browse of your site (as usual, didn’t want to leave after reading the post.) Take time to enjoy what is left of the summer with your littles–I know I will!

  28. Glad to have you back! I don’t know if I have a highlight to my summer; there seems to be many days that have made me smile, however simple they may be. For instance, yesterday I was so exhausted and beat, and was afraid that I’d have to chase my toddler around. Instead, he let me lie down on the couch while he played nearby, keeping me company and eventually snuggling with me. Those kinds of days stay with me for a long time.

  29. Working breaks are SO necessary to keep our focus, to tie up the lose ends. I sometimes have to remember to practice the mindfulness that I preach. Thanks for the reminder.

  30. Someone said, “don’t live to work but work to live” Sometimes, as we grow older and life gets challenging, we forget that we are working to live and not living to work and yes, community and friends matter a lot.

  31. Hi Tsh,
    Glad you are back, and I loved attending the webinar you did with Problogger during your break. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  32. So refreshing to hear that it is good to take a break. As bloggers, I feel like we feel nervous about stepping away to tackle and/or enjoy our offline lives. Thanks for putting it in perspective today.

  33. Best part of my summer? Spending it with people who really love our family, enjoying fresh food and the sunshine! And I agree with you, mums don’t really get a break as such, just a different setting ;-).

  34. I’ve been saving this post in my inbox for awhile and so happy I finally read it in the quiet of the morning. I too took a “break”, although my blogging work load isn’t nearly as heavy as yours. I think the opportunity to mix up the day to day routine is so refreshing, no matter how long you can get some respite. Thanks for letting us know it’s ok to take a break.

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