Making The Most of Summer

At the end of June, my writing group went on retreat to St. Peter’s Abbey. Founded in 1903, St. Peter’s Abbey is the oldest monastery of Benedictine monks in Canada. They follow the Rule of Saint Benedict, a book with 73 chapters that guides the religious life, including prescribing common prayer and manual work, and detailing how to manage communal living and receiving guests. The abbey welcomes some 3,000 guests a year, many of them writers, fibre artists, and visual artists.

The upper lefthand photo is the bell tower that tolls every hour. The photo in the lower lefthand corner is the original building. The upper right photo is the abbey. The lower left was taken on a walk of the property.

The abbey started as a farm with large gardens, grain fields, dairy cattle and beef cattle. Today the farmland has been rented out and the few remaining monks tend gardens, keep bees, and welcome guests. There is a sense of peace to this place. Of calmness. They also offer silent retreats and one was in progress during the first days of our own stay.

They sat apart in the dining room. They were there for self reflection and solitude. I admire them. Because I could never….not talk? Turn everything off? I have trouble meditating for a solid 15 minutes. But apparently it can be done. And now I can’t get the idea out of my head.

But maybe I should work my way up to a meditative style retreat and concentrate on making the most of summer by making some small changes. Doable changes. I enjoyed this article from Always Well Within and it’s solid tips on how to slow down and smell the roses.

My Goal for Slowing Down in July

  1. Except for my Author Page, responding to messages, and checking in and posting my progress on our writing FB group, I’m off Facebook for July. I will be hanging out on Instagram…because I have to post photos somewhere. And no checking in with the Twitterverse.
  2. Set a realistic daily writing goal of 500 words.
  3. To one thing every day that I’ve been avoiding. Does anyone have a list of stuff they’re just not getting done?
  4. Get back to using the Five Minute Journal app on my phone.
  5. More reading and less binge-watching Netflix.

Until next time…

What are some ways you’re slowing down this month? All suggestions are welcome!

My Favorite Summer Things

We’re all living the life of riley these days. We’ve unearthed the lawn chairs, smeared ourselves in sunscreen, and picked out a great book. It’s summertime! The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising, and the drinks are cold. As usual there is too much to do and too little time to fit it all in. I’m like everyone else and compiling my summertime wish list. The wonderful thing about summer is it doesn’t have to cost a fortunate to be enjoyable. I’m not sure how much watermelon is a pound, but not very much. A bag of marshmallows? Okay, you need to find a fire pit for that last one. How about water guns? I’m a fan of self pedicures – some crazy bright nail polish and a pair of flip flops and it feels like summer. I’ve got some other favorites, too!


The Food (and Drinks): Probably the very best part of the whole food and drink thing? Eating it outside. What is it about fresh air that makes everything, and I’m including burnt offerings in this, taste better? Grilled burgers covered in melting cheese served in a bakery fresh bun. Roasted hotdogs, their skin split from hanging out over a hot fire. S’mores. Beer. Yum. Canada Day pancakes outside with maple syrup and strawberries.



The Flowers: I love flowers. I wish I had a green thumb. There are flowers and flowerpots everywhere overflowing with color. I love the shady greenery of hostas and bleeding hearts or the bursts of color from begonias and the little impatiens. Lilies and roses bushes, not to mention one of my favorites: gladiolas. The hardy petunias that I plant everywhere in the hope that they’ll live!

Market Gardens and Fresh Produce: Who doesn’t love wandering the aisles at local markets? Fresh greens, baked-that-day goodies, canned pickles, and a whole lot of other stuff. But one of my absolute favorite summertime offerings is the bright red tomato. OMGosh, I love them. There is nothing better than a sun-ripened tomato white-bread sandwich. A little salt and pepper, a smear of mayo and you’re got the best thing ever!

Long Days, Hot Nights, and Thunderstorms: It’s one of those super hot days that’s leading into a super hot night. But clouds gathering and shifting on the horizon and the weatherperson is forecasting a storm. The air smells different. The clouds stream closer and it gets darker.  We get some whoppers in this neck of the woods. On July 1st which is Canada Day, we had a thunderstorms that lasted about three hours complete with sheet lightning and strike lightning. It outdid the fireworks. My parents always told us to stay away from the windows when these kinds of storms visited us on the farm, but it’s impossible not to watch.

Football: Here in Canada our national football league (CFL) starts at the beginning of July. And here in Saskatchewan we go a little bit nuts. On game day it’s a sea of green everywhere you go. We are the Saskatchewan Roughriders and our colors are green and white. Some say we bleed green. In our resourcefulness we have devised an alternate use for the watermelon. We hollow them out and carve it into a helmet. I kid you not.

So of my other favorites are:

  • sundresses
  • lemonade
  • sunflowers
  • canola fields
  • iced Chai tea lattes
  • reading outside
  • open windows
  • sand castles

and the list goes on!  I’d love for you to share your favorite summertime thing(s)! Come one, I know you want to. Don’t be shy and add to the list!