THIS summer has been one of the best of my life.
I have changed. I have grown. And I have learnt something.
About me and my life.
And, most importantly, how I want it to be.
There are two clear stand out moments from the summer holidays that will always stay with me.
Two light bulb moments. Two occurances which provided clarity and inspiration.
Neither of them are anything out of the ordinary but yet both have stayed with me, leaving their mark.
The first ‘life changer’ happened whilst on holiday in Kefalonia.
We were sat by a beautiful pool on a peaceful summer evening. The sun was setting, creating the most breathtaking colour show across the sky and families all around us were sat in their ‘holiday best’ drinking, eating, laughing and chatting.
All but one.
All but one family of four – Mum, Dad and their two teenage children.
As the rest of us took in the idyllic scene before us, trying to soak up every bit of that holiday feeling, this family were engaged elsewhere.
In the online world. On their phones.
For the couple of hours we sat as a family, laughing and nattering, this family sat with their heads down, diverted from the paradise they were in, sucked into the vortex of alerts, status updates and ‘news’.
Too busy checking Facebook or Twitter, too busy scrolling down their timelines to see what other people were up to, too busy taking notice of the online world, to even look up for a mere second or two to appreciate the stunning view.
Not once did they take in the beauty of their current surroundings.
Not once did they put their phones down.
Not once did they look like they were on holiday, having a ball.
And let me tell you, it really wasn’t very nice to witness.
I’m not judging this family, because we’ve all done it, haven’t we?
We’ve all stopped a flowing conversation to respond to a text or send a tweet. We’ve all been too engrossed in Facebook sometimes, nosey-ing in other people’s lives, to even notice what is happening in our own.
We’ve all wasted far too much time online when we could have been spending that time playing with our children, reading a book or working on our dreams.
But I ask you, when did this happen?
When did we become so fascinated by the online world and the constant update of (in most cases) mundane information that we stopped being fascinated by the ‘real’ world?
When did we stop paying full attention to our surroundings, the people we love and decent conversation?
When did our online activity all become a bit too much?
I sat and watched that family for a while and I felt like a fool. A first class, embarrassed fool.
For all the times I’ve jumped to respond to an email.
For all the times I’ve prioritised online friends over ‘real’ ones.
For all the times I’ve wasted evenings being distracted by social media and hated myself as a result.
And there and then, as I watched the sun go down, I made a few new online ground rules and promises to myself.
Because, seeing that family in action, was a stark example of how not to live or ‘be’.
And the second thing?
Well, that happened just last Wednesday.
I ‘should’ have been working. I ‘should’ have been blogging. I ‘should’ have been doing some jobs around the house.
But I’ve never been quite the fan of ‘shoulds’ so I didn’t do any of these things and rebelled and took two days off instead.
Together with Jamie and Elsie, I went to spend a day or so with my Dad, Step Mum, Nephews and Niece in rural Derbyshire.
We spent the afternoon at the really rather lovely Tramway Village in Crich and it was here, whilst riding on the old elegant trams, that I had another mini epiphany.
As I sat, gazing out the tram window at the impressive views, my Dad said, smiling:
“Oh and to think most people are sat at work now and we are all here instead. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon ey?”
Ding. Blinkin’ Dong.
Another lightbulb moment.
Suddenly I realised, almost in an instant, how fortunate I was to be on that tram on a Wednesday afternoon.
Sat with my wonderful family.
Sat enjoying the ride whilst most people were sat in a stuffy office.
Because I’ll be honest…
I forget, at times, that taking time off work at the drop of a hat isn’t do-able for most people.
I forget, at times, that having my husband around for six weeks over the summer isn’t the norm for the majority.
I forget, at times, how my life used to be or how unhappy I was before I worked for myself.
And so this lovely moment was the perfect reminder.
That I am blessed. Yes.
But also, that I created this life.
Mine, the way it is now. And together with my husband, our world as a little family.
I was able to take that time away from work, because I am my own boss.
I was able to be with my family creating precious memories, because I chose them over my deadlines.
I was doing what I wanted and spending my time as I wanted to, because I have created this life for myself.
And in that little moment, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as proud or as grateful.
This summer has taught me so much.
About life. About people. About love.
But more than anything, it has reminded me that life is what we make of it.
That we are the creators, the makers, the weavers.
So, if you’re sat here reading this, thinking about something you want to change, then do it!
If you’re always dreaming about how you want to see more of the world, then make it happen!
If you’re forever struggling to fit everything in and feeling stressed, then for starters get off your phone!
Make note of what is important to you, ditch what isn’t and mould your world into your own personal shape that looks and feels beautiful.
Life is far too precious a gift to squander or devalue.
(This, I hope we all know.)
So make it count, make it work and make it appeal…