It’s hard to believe July is almost over. As August approaches, I know my days of summer and free time draw to a close. With the couple of weeks I have left before school responsibilities begin, I plan to enjoy and savor each day.
Today, the lingering humidity of the past couple of weeks lessened. I could take hundreds of days like this one—not too hot and perfect for being outside.
What I’ve Been Up To
Once school ended and faculty meetings concluded at the end of May, I turned my attention to preparing for my trip to Vancouver, BC. The visit was a mix of work and play. I should clarify that I don’t consider promoting Everywhere God “work” in the normal sense of the word. That said, I did spend many hours prepping my talks and preparing for my workshop. I led a Contemplative Journaling Workshop for a group of women one night and spoke at two different events at local churches about making space for God in everyday life. In between my speaking gigs, I spent time with my dear friend Jacquelyn who hosted me and spoiled me, and other good friends from my family’s Vancouver days. I loved all of it.
The weather could not have been more perfect. In fact, by BC standards, it was considered hot on a few days. I soaked up the beautiful views of the coastal mountains and enjoyed revisiting a favorite walking/running path that was near our old home. For the first time, I attended a Bard on the Beach production and saw an excellent performance of MacBeth. The setting could not have been more perfect with the mountains in the background along with the setting sun.
I was particularly grateful for the chance to reconnect with friends over meals or cups of coffee and tea. Many rich conversations! I left for home with a heart full of gratitude for friendships that can pick up where they left off and for the positive reception I received in terms of my book. It was an affirming trip on many levels for me.
A week later, our family headed to Michigan to celebrate the fourth of July and to have a reunion. The extended Brummeler family continues to grow and we form a small crowd when we are together. Lots of laughing, eating, swimming, tubing, and general fun when we gather. We left thankful for our time and already are making plans for next year.
The Appalachian Trail
Yes, this was also part of my summer! This trip was many things for me and you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get the full story. The short version is that Brad and I hiked for nine days together. I covered 69 miles of the AT, specifically a section in New Hampshire known as The Whites. I climbed 5 mountains, experienced 2 different hiker hostels, acquired a trail name—Stout Heart—and saw my first bear in the wild. Brad stayed on the trail for another five days and hiked a total of 122 trail miles.
I had no idea what to expect being on the trail for a longer chunk of time, but suffice it to say, I’m glad I went and I will go again. I’m working on a piece that delves more deeply into some of my experiences and reflections along with why I even agreed to the trip in the first place. Stay tuned!
My Writing Life
I’m writing. Let’s start there. I still don’t have a clear sense of what book #2 will be about, but I’m trusting this will take shape. I have ideas, but nothing firm, yet. Mainly, I’m focused on writing new content this summer. One of the best pieces of advice I heard at this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing came from another writer who also teaches. She said she uses her summer months to write new material, finding her creative juices flow more freely when she isn’t teaching. As soon as I heard this, I felt like a lightbulb clicked. During the school year, I struggle enough as it is to write with any regularity. Writing new stuff feels especially daunting. But, I can revise and edit. So that’s been my goal this summer: crank out some pieces that I can tinker and play with once school resumes and go from there.
My Reading Life
I’ve read some great books this summer and hope to finish a couple more before the start of school.
I loved Birthing Hope by my friend and colleague Rachel Marie Stone. So many powerful, gripping, and moving stories from her life, each vividly described and well written. It’s the kind of book that I want others to read and will be on my list to give as a gift.
I read two YA novels—Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson and Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata. Both of these books are summer novels my students have to read. Each won the Newbery Gold Medal and are compelling, engaging stories. Can’t wait to hear what my students think.
It’s also been the summer of memoir. Rachel’s book falls into this category as well. I read The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan and I’m almost finished with The House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout. The former was recommended by Shauna Niequist on one of her podcasts. I read most of it on my return flight home from Vancouver and it captivated me. Meaning, I didn’t watch any of the free movies I could have watched on the airplane. I read. The latter was given to me by Jacquelyn. Amanda is a Canadian author who was taken captive in Somalia while on an reporting assignment. It’s her story of coming to travel the world as well as surviving her fifteen-month ordeal as a hostage. Very good and gripping.
Then, because I thought I would actually read at night after a day of hiking, I used my library’s online catalog to download the second book in the Neopotalian series by Elena Ferrante entitled The Story of a New Name. Wrong! I didn’t read at all while on the trail. A while ago, I listened to the first book in the series My Brilliant Friend and loved it. While busing and training my way back to New York after my backpacking trip, I quickly read the second book.
Now, I’m reading the third book called Those Who Love and Those Who Stay also on my phone. I know people have been reading books on their phones, tablets, Kindles, you name it, for years. But, these two books were a first for me. I have to say, I really like it for certain situations.
I love that I have always have something to read wherever I am—waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting for my car’s oil change, waiting in line, you name it. Anyways, if you like anything Italian and you like stories that explore themes of family, friendship, love, and loyalty, you will enjoy this series.
Thanks for reading. I hope your August is filled with some good books, some time outside, some delicious meals, and some meaningful conversations. Leave a comment and say hello!
Loved this. I want to read even more after your book recommendations. Reading is such a gift that takes us into people’s lives and around the world to places we may never be able to explore personally. I’m reminded again how important the gift of reading is.–A very proud Mom