7 Things I Learned This Summer

Before summertime feels like a distant memory, I’d to take a pause and share some things that I have learned this season. I did a post like this last spring and really enjoyed the seasonal reflection. Life goes so fast and sometimes it can feel like a complete blur. This is just one method I use to pump the brakes a bit.

It’s a very random mix, but here you go. Seven Things I Learned this Summer:

1. I Can Easily Clean Plastic Shower Curtains.

Maybe everybody already knows this and I’m just late to the Plastic Shower Curtain Cleaning Party. But you know how plastic shower liners get gross over time? I’ve always just waited until I could no longer bare looking at it (longer than I’d care to admit), thrown it away, and replaced it with a new one, lamenting that “there must be a better way!”

Well, I have found a better way.

Apparently, you just take your plastic shower curtain off the hooks (another good reason to avoid the pain-in-the-neck type hooks) and throw it in the washing machine with a couple of towels!

Add detergent, baking soda or Oxyclean powder, and pour some white vinegar in the fabric softener hole to fight mildew. Wash cold. (I didn’t even measure, I just threw it all in.)

The towels do the scrubbing for you and it comes out clean!

Just hang it back in the shower to dry and Voila! A clean shower curtain.

Would it work without the towels? I don’t know. The internet told me to do it with towels. But in my mind, it would work better this way due to the scrubbing factor. Either way, I can save money by no longer throwing away curtains.

I love finding simple solutions that tackle small, but irritating problems. It really makes me feel like I have my life together. Lol.

2. This is not rhubarb.

At the beginning of the summer, I noticed a peculiar plant growing in the back corner of our yard. We’ve lived here in Trenton for four years now and I’ve been mowing over it the entire time.

Well, as I began to watch it, rather than mow it, it started developing enormous leaves.

Hmm. I wonder if it is something interesting. (I’m forever on the look-out for hidden treasure.)

The plant grew larger, and its long stalks began to tint pink. It must be rhubarb!! I vowed to no longer mow over it, lamenting my years of indiscretion.

With all the zeal of unlocking an entire new category of projects, I Pinterested every rhubarb-related recipe I could find. Muffins, and strawberry rhubarb jam, and pie filling, oh my. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I even had a gardening friend come over and she agreed that it looked like rhubarb. Life was looking up. Urban homesteading was all coming together.

I bought pectin. I readied my canning supplies and my muffin recipe. I marched out to the back, scissors in hand, ready to finally harvest our first few stalks.

Only, it wasn’t rhubarb. The stalks that lay on the kitchen island did not smell tangy and sour. They did not taste tangy and sour. They smelled and tasted like a weed.

A little googling later, I realized that I had been duped by the classic rhubarb poser, Burdock. It looks just like rhubarb, except it isn’t. I was crestfallen. All of my dreams were dashed.

But the truth was, my house was a complete disaster and I had about 500 other things I should have been doing to wrap up the school year. My “rhubarb” adventure was, for sure, a procrastination tactic. As for my weed that was now too big to mow over, I figured I’d pull it out in the fall.

Time passed and about midway through this summer I noticed that my non-rhubarb plant had grown much taller and was now covered in thistles. They hooked into your skin at the slightest touch! And this was before they got dry and brittle. I decided the plant needed to go. It took me a long time to dig the thing out. The roots were hefty. But I figured I was saving all of our feet from excruciating pain.

Days later, as I was reading more about the burdock plant, I learned that the root is used in Chinese medicine to treat various ailments.

Did I have a moment of regret that I had been so hasty? Yes. Did I still have 500 more important things to do instead of shaving burdock root into medicinal tea? Yes.

Maybe someday I will be that person. But right now, I have to funnel all my adventures through a Priorities Filter. To everything there is a season. Just not for burdock. Not right now.

3. Brush Drawing is my new favorite thing.

What is brush drawing, you ask? Well, it is basically water colors without as much water. We added it to our art plan this year and I am finding I like it even more than my kids. It’s really great for adding pictures to a nature journal, decorating cards, or making pretty pictures for no reason at all.

Really, I do what I want and add more water whenever I feel like it, but the dry brush technique has been a great springboard. It’s nice to have a doodly hobby to get the creative juices flowing.

4. I’ve been clenching my neck muscles for my entire life.

Lately, I’ve been doing some relaxing exercises to try and get my body to loosen up. It basically entails clenching and relaxing different muscles while breathing deeply. I have a tendency to be body-forgetful. Meaning, I don’t always notice when my body sends me messages. Silly things, like realizing I am clenching muscles for no reason. Paying closer attention has revealed that I have serious neck tension. I’ve been clenching the muscles at the base of my neck for as long as I can remember.

The first step is noticing, right? Now to stop doing it—which is significantly more difficult than noticing. I’m in the market for some stretching tips or techniques. Leave me a comment if you know a good one! (Seriously.)

5. I drink more water when I have this chart on my fridge.

I know not everybody has the luxury of being near their fridge all day (and honestly, it comes with its own set of problems, as you can imagine), but this idea could totally work at an office fridge or water cooler.

It’s very simple, but totally works for me. All you need is an index card (or paper), a writing utensil, and a magnet. Write the numbers of how many glasses of water you want to drink each day.

Every morning my magnet starts on 1. As I refill my glass with water from the fridge, I move my magnet to the next number. Maybe it’s because this feels like a board game, but I am finding myself absurdly motivated to move my magnet to the next number. I am drinking more water consistently than I have in my entire life.

6. I have a ways to go.

This was a lovely summer with many good memories and moments, but for whatever reason, I had a hard time emotionally. I think part of it came from being out of routine, which is always tricky. Taking a break from blogging felt needed, but I also missed the consistent processing that it provides for me. But aside from that, this summer I realized there were some problems I was causing in my relationships. Areas where I need to change. And ask forgiveness. And do better.

You’d think I’d be used to the idea of ongoing improvement, but sometimes I get into a mode where I think “okay, looking pretty good.” That’s usually right before God shows me a blind spot.

Despite the injury to my pride, deep down I’m thankful He does this. In His mercy, God keeps bringing me back to a Posture of Dependence. The fact that I have a ways to go is not a statement of defeat. It’s just reality. Thankfully, God’s love is steady. It doesn’t go up and down with my performance. I don’t need to worry or despair. I just need to follow where He leads me.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3

I might have a ways to go, but it’s on a pleasant path with a good Shepherd.

7. Maybe I only learn six things per season.

This is the second seasonal reflection I’ve ever done and both times I could only think of six things. (Last time I added one more to make it an odd number, like the internet article told me I should have.)

But maybe six things is my limit. (Plus one for commentary.) I’ll have to see how the pattern continues in the fall.

Learn anything interesting this summer? Leave a comment below and share the wealth! It can be silly, simple, or sacred. I’d love to hear from you! (Especially if you’ve learned a good stretching routine.)

Have a great week!

4 thoughts on “7 Things I Learned This Summer

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