Can someone please tell me when the month of August ceased being summertime?
Isn’t August still a time for “floatin’ fools in the swimming pools”, mouthwatering backyard barbecues with friends, carnivals & state fairs, baseball games, enjoying ice coffee & conversation on the patio in the cool of the evening after a sweltering day. (Ok, ok…so I live in California…my apologies to those of you who live in the weather ravaged parts of the world where its still HOT & HUMID at 9pm), late night ice cream sundaes in front of a newly rented movie and sleeping in as late as you want in the morning! It is truly the best of the “dog days of summer” …no schedules, no agenda…just enjoying the easy living of summer!
These days summer seems to come to a screeching halt by the end of July as more & more schools are choosing early start dates instead of the traditional day after Labor Day….1st day of school. My life has been affected by this evolution….with dear darling hubby working at an educational institution that began mid August & # 2 daughter attending there, the charter school I homeschool thru following suit, soccer practices already in full swing for the fall season & even the local neighborhood pool cutting back their hours to weekends & “after school” (even though its 98 degrees outside!). It has even dampened my September 1st birthday celebration that use to always be the last week of summer vacation with no worries, no school, no homework! (and I didn’t care about missing out on cupcakes in the classroom…I’d take a vacation time birthday party over that anytime!) Yes, in my world …it is & should still be summer with all its many wonderful diversions!
So since I refuse to conform to this “new” definition of August…for me today begins the final week of summertime before school starts. It is a time to continue to enjoy the lazy days of summer while beginning to form a plan for the upcoming school year.
Next week when we officially begin lessons (as a homeschooling family our philosophy is “life is school” but we do complete lessons!) we will all be up a bit earlier in the morning, getting supplies together, and making sure the kids are properly dressed…before getting out the camera for the first day of school pictures. (the rest of the year they can do their school work in their PJ’s for all I care…but have to have those pictures!)
Having personally been entrenched in education for over 21 years (11 as a high school teacher & administrator and the past 10 years as a home school teacher)… I always see this time of year as a new beginning. A fresh start to a brand new school year that I can make into whatever I want it to be. The past school year (with all its failures, mistakes as well as successes) is over and gone, only to be remembered through report cards, school records and the scrapbook or yearbook.
I always loved that feeling! I had an empty lesson planner and a school year calendar sitting blank in front of me and I would create whatever type of year I wanted. I could continue to fine tune & develop the things that were successful and make them even better. I could try brand new, perhaps even “risky” ideas in hopes of inspiring my students in their quest of learning. As I sat there with my yearly calendar, my goals & objectives and my weekly lesson plans…the sky was the limit as to what I could do & accomplish that new school year. BUT one thing was always certain….I never started a new school year without a “plan”. None of us would accept our children’s teacher telling us that they had no specific plan for the year…no goals or objectives….that they were just going to see what happened. We would leave that classroom (in shock!) and head to the principals office demanding a new teacher!
YET…that is exactly what many of us do with our lives. We just “let it happen” without any goals & objectives and with very little planning and then we wonder why its “not working” for us? I want to challenge you today, during this week before new beginnings(like the start of a new school year, even if your kids started weeks ago!) to begin to make a plan for your year. Forget the past…and make today a fresh new start.
Begin with the end in mind!
Well, maybe not the very end (although that’s an excellent way to live….thinking about what you want your life to have looked like when you are on your death bed!) Let’s start with this – Next August what do you want your life to look like? What personal or family habits do you want to cultivate? What new traditions do you want to establish or new ways to celebrate life? What do you want to teach your children? What do you want for your marriage and/or family relationships? Do you have any new skills you want to acquire or talents you want to improve upon or use? Where do you want to be spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally & financially?
After you write out your dreams, goals, objectives…..take each of them and make a list of what needs to happen to accomplish them. Then “calendar” those things into your year & write out your life’s lesson plans.
Here is one example -
Goal: To get caught up & stay current on my family photo albums
Ways to accomplish this: weekly time set aside to journal, monthly workshops, yearly retreats
What to put on the life lesson plan & calendar: Journaling time every Sunday afternoon for 1 hour (during baby’s nap), First Friday of the month attend a 4 hour workshop to complete albums, Every August go on a scrapbooking weekend retreat with friends.
Here is a “heavier” example
Goal: The family to mature spiritually over the next year.
What needs to happen to accomplish this: church involvement, regular family prayer & devotions, scripture memory, cultivating personal time with God, becoming missions minded, developing meaningful spiritual traditions around the holidays etc…
What to put on the life lesson plan & calendar: Calendar in weekly church attendance,yearly mission trip or other local outreach opportunity (like working at a local soup kitchen or passing out blankets to the homeless). Decide on best time for family prayer & devotions and make it happen. (even if you begin with once a week rather than daily) Pick a verse to begin memorizing and post it around the house (bathroom mirrors, fridge, car dash board etc..) – practice together daily at a family meal or while driving to school. Research making holidays meaningful & implement one thing to each holiday this year. Provide a “quiet time” at home (even if it is just 15 minutes) for cultivating a relationship with God thru the word & personal prayer & meditation.
So as the summer winds down & the new school year begins - Write out your dreams & goals for this year, make a life’s lesson plan & then put that plan into action! Don’t continue to just let life “happen” BUT rather “MAKE IT HAPPEN”. You will reap great rewards for your efforts.
Here’s to next August as you are enjoying the “dog days of summer” basking in the sun by the pool, you’ll also enjoy looking back at your many accomplishments of the past year & basking in the glory of a life well lived.