September 5, 2012 by Ilene H. Lang
Last week on Catalyzing I featured a touching story by a Catalyst employee named Jennette about what she lost—and gained—from a fire that swept through her apartment building in July. Today, I’m happy to present the rest of the responses to my all-staff question: “What did you do this summer?”
If you’d like to share your own summer story, please do so in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Now let’s get ready for fall!
This summer was the summer I learned to ride a horse. Why did I sign up for a week’s worth of private classes that cost the price of a small used car? My four female trainers asked me this same question and wondered if I intended to improve existing skills, maybe compete, or (gasp) buy a horse. I was embarrassed to admit there was nothing logical about my decision—it was simply because I was afraid of horses. The first time I ever got on a horse was in Chile many years ago, and after riding out to a pasture, my horse realized I had no power and high-tailed it back to the ranch, nipping me along the way. Clearly, there was a reason to be afraid. But what I also admitted to my trainers was that horses had been haunting my dreams for weeks, and while I had a suspicion it had something to do with a deeper fear, I had no clue what the fear was about. So, each day for a week I worked with a different trainer to develop my non-existent horseback riding skills and tackle this fear. After the first day, I was questioning this plan of mine because my backside hurt so much and my next trainer explained that the pain was there because I was not letting go enough, the resistance was causing the pain. Hmmm. So, as a lesson, I was not allowed to use the stirrups for an entire session and instead had to allow my legs to hang freely. I learned in that session that when I relax, the horse will relax. The next day, when my horse (Checar, aka Buffet, pictured above) ignored my signals and instead wanted to eat everything in sight, I learned the power of leading and being direct with my intention. When Checar followed my every move (especially if I looked down at the ground), I learned the power of looking straight ahead and being clear with where I was going. When Checar refused to trot after four tries, I learned the power of being committed to what I wanted to do (and miraculously he would trot). And when I tried to bribe Checar with an apple one day, I learned that I do not need to reward anyone (including myself) with food (ha!) for a hard day’s work. So, at the end of the week it became clear that everything I was learning was about me, and not really about the horse, nor was my fear about the horse. It was about embracing my own power, knowing where I’m going, being clear with my message and being committed.
Summer is my favorite time of year—the heat is incredible—great for running from sunup until sundown with lots of cold water in between. Summer is also great for long runs to and on the beaches. My summer was comprised of training for several ultramarathons, including the Vermont 100 Miler and the Burning Man 50k. As the race director of the latter, I spent a lot of time planning, having meetings, discussing medals, creating numbers, plotting the course, and working with runners. And of course, I spent lots of time planning for Burning Man, including sewing sparkly costumes, sometimes on the beach.
I moved 4000 sq. feet of house possessions in 104-degree heat in between flying to Houston for a presentation, then I helped my friend move to St. Louis, then I helped my other friend move to Miami, all in 104-degree plus heat. Never got to enjoy the outdoors!!! Going on a business trip to L.A. just so I can see the ocean and sit outside this week!!!
Coachella 2012 kicked off my summer with great weather and live music! Amidst camping, boating, picnics, and fire-pit parties, I celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede! Mini-donuts, live concerts, nightly fireworks, two-stepping under the humid beer-filled tents, and of course the good ol’ rodeo made for a fun-filled 10-day celebration! As my summer comes to a close, I’ll be celebrating my 1st year wedding anniversary married to my wonderful husband, Eric, in France!
Summer is my favorite season—a time to soak in the sun, spend time with friends and family, and fit in some playtime full of new experiences! My family and I started the summer in Greece, visiting family in Thessaloniki and the island of Thassos. When we returned we went camping to our favorite spot, Sauble Beach, about three hours north of Toronto. We love this area and are excited to have just purchased and “moved in” to an awesome trailer, situated in a lovely spot near the beach for weekend and vacation getaways for years to come! I am also fortunate to have some vacation “me time,” and will be heading to New Brunswick this week to visit a friend at her cottage before I return and head to Sauble to “break in” our new abode over the Labor Day long weekend. Talk about fun-filled!
This summer, I moved to New York City! That's it. It took most of my summer.
A summer of transitions…from Mumbai to New York, from having house staff to becoming the house staff, from vacationing in the South of France to being back on the NY subway, from having a husband (who still has to be in Mumbai for work) to becoming a single mom, and eagerly waiting for this one—from kids jumping on my head to being back in school soon.
I moved for the eighth time in nearly as many years to a home that, I can say with growing confidence, will become our permanent home. Fatigued of our regional tour of the US and delighted by the resources and common values we share with our community of greater Boston, we couldn’t be happier. At the same time, I heard the first magical words read by my daughter’s lips. Too quickly, reading will become an independent activity opening up the entire world to her—for better or for worse ;-). This summer also allowed me the pleasure of long cuddles with my son, soon to outgrow my never-ending hugs and kisses. And sadly, this summer, cancer reared its ugly head again with my beloved mother-in-law reminding us, as always, of the fragility and beauty of life and the necessity of enjoying every summer we are given.
I spent several weeks in Upstate NY on Keuka Lake, watching my 9-year-old twins swim and swim and swim and then for something different, swim. But I also got in touch with my inner-canner and canned a year's worth of tomatoes and infused some Aperol. It takes being Upstate to remember that not everyone is running somewhere or racing vertically. Some people take their life leisurely: they bike (slowly), take a horse and buggy, or a walk and enjoy the journey. - Amelia
This summer was the summer of getting back to “fun.” I fished, camped, bought a baby taylor and started to learn how to play the guitar, read, swam at the lake, worked, mountain biked and did yoga outside—a lot. I took in my favorite motivator events—tennis, the Olympics and the Tour de France, quit biting my nails, spent heaps of time with friends and family—all that being said, I also stopped to watch the hummingbirds and walk in the rain.
I spent a lot of the summer helping my husband recover from surgery while working flexibly. Thankful for the flexibility. He’s doing well.
What I did in August: I became a remote worker for a change, switching my Wall Street cubicle for a perch in our living room in our house in Amagansett. Instead of watching the boats move up and down the East River and flocks of tourists thronging the South Street Seaport, I watched: - A herd of 8-10 male deer with antlers amble slowly across our front lawn early in the morning - 100+ peaches disappear from the tree in the front yard in one week - Wild turkeys trotting across the front yard, then to the back, and across the pool deck - My daughter sit for hours outside with a camera on a tripod capturing hummingbirds in flight - A blue jay fly into our window, falling stunned to the ground, while I was on a conference call (that was a little startling) At the end of the day, I went to the beach for a lot of amazing sunsets. I cooked and ate a lot of corn (with bacon, with cotija cheese, with lime juice, with chipotle peppers – and so on). I went to the CSA farm I belong to twice a week and dug up potatoes, picked tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplant, lettuce, cilantro etc. Learned how to grill broccoli. Perfected making chocolate sorbet (delicious even though it’s not ice-cream). Ate s’mores made on the beach by my kids. Fell off a paddle board. Sat through several pick-up baseball games for my son (boring for me, fun for him). Got much less sleep than I intended due to the Olympics and too many beach reads that kept me up at night. Introduced the kids to the pleasures of the movie Airplane (Don’t call me Shirley) and realized PG back then doesn’t mean what it means now!
I am currently on vacation, traveling to Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. What a way to close the summer!
I spent the summer married for the first time. After 12 years of partnership, and even a NYC-endorsed domestic partnership thrown in, this was the first summer we were official.
Moving was the theme for my summer—this one, the first in twenty-plus years from our 100-year-old, four floor home to... well, we weren’t quite sure. Due to the idiosyncrasies of our buyers, the timing dictated that we only had two weeks to downsize, finalize an apartment and make the move real. A challenge – and like childbirth, had I known before how hard it would be, would I have signed up for it? Not sure. This was not how I planned the move nor how I wanted to spend my summer. But now I see that it was worth it and came packaged with lessons learned through a lot of sweat, a lot of sweat and a lot of sweat. Namely: -Moving is brutal—especially during a heat wave and especially if you downsize and do it all in two weeks. -Getting up close and personal with “all the stuff you’ve collected” can trigger anxiety, disbelief and laughs. Recognize that stuff—all your stuff—is just that: stuff. I became a maniac. If no one else wanted it, I took a few things and watched our stuff go joyfully out the door, giving most to those who could use it. -Since we gave away all our furniture and stuff and live in a small apartment (with boxes as end tables), we can now buy “new stuff,” but I am much wisened. -Living lightly is a gift. It allows me to concentrate and appreciate what’s really important and enjoy my family and friends. That’s not corny; for me, it’s quite real. -I will buy very little stuff. I expected to pull a ten-tissue good-bye to our home. (OK, I shed a few and documented the two weeks on my iPhone camera.) But not surprisingly, we don’t miss it. Exhausted, we traded the garden, porches and swing for the NYC skyline and Hudson River flotilla of kayaks, cruisers and tugs and the funky Jersey City historic district with new exploration ahead. What took us so long?