I started the summer with such high hopes. I always do. I spend the last weeks of the school year looking forward to all of the “free” time I’ll suddenly have to spend time with my kids and husband and neglected books. I dream about what our vacations will look like, which books of my own choosing I’ll get to read, the perfectly clean house that I will have, and the home improvement projects that will finally get touched.

While I know that professional development and planning for the next school year will be looming in the background, I optimistically make a summer list of all that I want to accomplish before I have to check back into the building for meetings, classroom reorganization, and course revision.

This summer was no different. I started the summer with an optimistic list, a list that I didn’t believe was too out of reach, but it was still optimistic. Within weeks I saw that optimism unravel. The yearbook took longer than I thought it would and I cursed the fact that I still have a summer delivery. (After nearly two months of reflection, I’m back to being happy that I have a summer book that includes the full school year.) After a complete rearrangement of teachers in the English department, my course schedule changed, which meant I was looking towards planning for two new classes instead of just revising what I had done the previous year. We got stuck in Albuquerque for five days which meant little downtime before I went to two workshops in a single week. The remainder of the summer consisted of my attempt to manage the daily ins and outs of life with two kids and a husband who was desperately trying to work in our house while we were all home for summer vacation.

I’m just saying, it wasn’t as easy as it looked at the beginning of June.

But with school starting tomorrow, it’s time for some honest reflection concerning how I did with my summer goals. So here it is…

Finish stripping the wallpaper in our hallway and paint the walls. I started this process two years ago and I couldn’t let another summer go without finishing it. For those who follow me on Instagram, I proudly made progress after we returned from our summer vacation and it is complete. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the last two sets of hooks sitting on the floor in the entranceway.

Finish both kiddos’ photo books for the last year. Last summer I was successful. This summer I was not. I did get started on our summer vacation photo albums (with over 900 photographs I decided that our vacation gets its own book) but I didn’t even have time to get that completed. It looks like I’ll have to work on those over the next two months while I wait for photographs to start rolling in for work on the yearbook.

Complete Certified Educator Level 1 for Google for Education. This was a really good professional development goal that is going to have to wait a couple months. This summer I went to an excellent professional writing conference, a yearbook camp with my staffers, and an incredibly helpful and informative AP workshop as I switch back to my first love: AP Language. It’s not that I didn’t do professional development, it just took a different shape than I had initially imagined. This has now become a goal for the coming school year.

Complete and post two blog posts a week. Over the course of the summer, I wrote 29 blog posts that I posted on this blog (30 if you count this one, 23 if you don’t count the revised blog posts about our Midwest trip) plus two blog posts that I posted to Bored Teachers. As far as I’m concerned, this goal was a success.

Read/listen to ten books. I completed: Love Does by Bob Goff (audiobook), Everybody Always by Bob Goff (audiobook), Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (paperback), Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston (paperback), Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan (paperback), Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg (paperback), P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (audiobook), Losers Bracket by Chris Crutcher (hardcover), Becoming by Michelle Obama (audiobook), A Faith of Our Own by Jonathan Merritt (hardcover), Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt (hardcover), and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (audiobook). That is a grand total of twelve books and that doesn’t count the books that we listened to as a family while we were on vacation. (That seemed like cheating.) Again, a smashing success.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey

Fully complete the rough draft of the memoir I started last summer. Going to Write Brilliant Live during the month of July was eye-opening, encouraging, and transformative. I walked in thinking I had to do it all; I walked out knowing that my goals of completing my book (which was twice as long as I was being told it needed to be) were not out of reach but needed some serious revising. I took the first three chapters, rearranged and edited them, and then sent them off to two friends who are just now starting to go through those chapters to let me know what I need to do with them before doing something “real” with them. My uncle spent the last year helping my ailing grandmother complete her memoir. It is now available for purchase on Amazon. While I don’t want to wait until I’m in my 80s, I have time and I don’t have to rush it. The desire is greater than ever, but I’m no longer anxious about when or how it is going to be completed.

Overall, I think I did a pretty good job with the summer. While three goals are incomplete, it was a wonderful summer and I don’t regret a thing (except maybe all of that work I was still doing in June.) I learned and grew and I’m returning to school emotionally and mentally refreshed.

Bring on 2019-2020. I’m ready to get some things done.

Thoughtful and nuanced responses welcome!