The 2 Big (No Duh!) Lessons I Learned This Summer

The first half of this summer felt super intense, emotionally. I’ve spent most of it completely twisted up and totally riddled with anxiety, uncertainty and paralyzing self-doubt.

I’ve been doubting everything I’ve been doing, everything I’ve been writing–whether anyone out there cares or is even listening at all.

My first big lesson/reminder of this season came during our big summer project: painting our house.

Summer Lesson #1: TRUST YOUR GUT

We’ve never painted a house before. We don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to picking paint colors. And, classic mistake, we picked the wrong damn color.

Like, really wrong.

Only … I didn’t trust myself when my gut was screaming that this was not the right color.

We painted the first half of our house, and for three whole days I was riddled with anxiety. My stomach was all twisted up in knots. I wrung myself through the ringer trying to convince myself the color was okay. All weekend I stared and stared at the house, willing myself to like the color. Like, if I just stared at it long enough suddenly my gut feeling would change.

Worst of all, despite all the anxiety, all the knots, and all these things I knew in my gut, I just didn’t fully trust in how I felt.

My gut knew I didn’t like that color, but my brain (my ego) said, “But, maybe. Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’re wrong.”

I was a WRECK at the stand still between my gut and my ego.

And, not just in our painting project; in everything I’ve been struggling with. I’ve been doubting my very Seasonal Soul and it’s been debilitating. I haven’t posted in a few weeks because I’ve been paralyzed with self-doubt.

My gut knows that I have things to say here, things to learn, and things to share with you. My gut knows The Seasonal Soul is important work. My gut tells me it’s my soul’s work here on Earth. But my damn ego tells me, “Nobody cares about what you have to say. Nobody’s going to read this. You don’t have any idea what you’re doing.” I’ve been completely paralyzed by this discrepancy. Frozen by fear, thanks to self-doubt.

But our disastrous first round of painting taught me, at the perfect time, to trust my gut.

Trust your gut.

Know your truth. And believe in it.

My gut knew I didn’t like that damn color. But it took three full days of stress and anxiety and, more than one, breakdown into tears at the dinner table. (Seriously, I was a wreck.) And even then I didn’t listen to my gut.

It was my sweet husband who finally said, “We just have to stop. You’re never going to like this color. We have to stop and regroup.”And immediately a huge weight was lifted. I could breathe. Relief.

No, that color was not good. I didn’t like it. And I knew that.

And this, The Seasonal Soul, is a good idea. People do care. And yes, people do want to read it. (After all, you’re here! And, I love you!!) We have important work to do here. I can’t quit already.

I need to trust my gut. With all of it. Trust my gut and just relax. (Which lead to my second lesson of summer …)

Summer Lesson #2:
JUST RELAX INTO THINGS

Don’t hold on so tight. Don’t let yourself get so twisted up and tense.

This total paralysis I’ve been experiencing is all due to 1) not trusting my gut and all the fear and self-doubt that creates, and 2) instead of just relaxing into it, that self-doubt was causing me to grasp at everything more and more tightly.

I felt like I was trying to grab tightly to an unpeeled banana; the tighter I squeezed the more the banana just squished through my hand, my fingers. It just oozed out and everything felt like a gloppy, sticky, yucky mess. (It’s totally dramatic, I know. But that is absolutely how I felt.)

I’ve been grasping everything so damn tightly. For a minute there life felt like a sticky, oozy, gloppy mess that I just couldn’t get hold of. The result was total paralysis.

On top of all that, it’s summer vacation, of course. My 11-year old is around during the day and since I’m working from home I’ve been experiencing total Mom Guilt about not spending time with him. “He’s 11,” I told myself. “He’s going to middle school in a few weeks. He’s getting older. He’s not going to want to hang out with his Mom much longer. I’m going to miss it. Before I know it he’ll be gone.”

And, seasonally speaking, isn’t playing and adventuring what summer is all about anyway?!

Since I wasn’t writing and everything felt like a disaster anyway, I decided I needed to just stop. I needed to let go of my super tight grasp, and relax. I needed to just hang out hang out with my son and do summer vacation stuff. So, we ran around hunting Pokemon. We rode bikes. We took walks. I let go of my tight, firm grip and just let myself relax.

Just relax into things.

And, are you surprised to hear, those knots dissipated. The tension eased and I was able to take some breaths. Regain some strength, regain some confidence, and get back at it.

And here I am. A few weeks of radio silence; but I’m back. And excited to start turning my gaze toward the last half of summer and the energy and changes that come along with that.

I hope wherever you are, at this midpoint in summer, that you are also able to just relax into things. It really makes life so much easier if you do. Release your grasp and just relax.

And dammit … don’t forget to trust your gut!

With love,
xo
erin

16 Comments
  1. I have a really hard time trusting my gut because my head is so damn loud. But when I do, the gut is usually right on and the head? Well, she’s right some of the time, but mostly she’s just loud.

    Great post, Erin. Although I’m damn curious about what color you originally tried to paint your house!!!

    1. Thanks Heidi!! And HA! Yes. Well … someone described it as “tennis ball yellow.” That’s when we finally decided to throw in the towel. Good for Key West, Florida, not so great for cloudy, Seattle WA. Now its a really pretty 2-tones of teal. I’ll post pictures when its finished. xo

  2. I needed this today, thank you! I love your writing and am super impressed with what you are up to and bravely sharing. Xo

  3. Girl, this is FABULOUS.

    Thank you for putting this out into the world and helping other folks give themselves permission to reset. I hadn’t even realized how far down this rabbit hole I was until recently, and by then it felt like summer had already passed me by… and the whole thing was a loss… and I was probably the only person in North America who wasn’t having the BEST TIME.

    Summer is, in my mind, supposed to be the season of easy-livin’… a time of spaciousness, slowing down, relaxing, rejuvenating; long lazy days and warm late nights, stress-free and sensuous. So, then, imagine how stressful it is to have a stressful summer!! The only thing worse, in fact, than having a rushed, tired, tense summer is how much pressure I can put on myself to NOT feel my feelings of disappointment, panic, and overwhelm! I like to call it a ‘death spiral’, and I can easily convince myself that I’m the only person in the world who isn’t having a PERFECT summer… at which point I get to mix in feelings of shame and failure. Ugh!

    I hadn’t even realized how far down this rabbit hole I was until recently, and by then it felt like summer had already passed me by… and the whole thing was a just a big, botched loss. Talk about squeezing the banana! (Wait. That didn’t sound right. Umm.)

    Anyway, reading your post has reminded me that I’m not alone, that plenty of us struggle through summer’s beauty and bounty, and that there’s still plenty of summer left to love.

    And just remember this the next time your ego starts in with that sabotaging voice: while reading your words and writing this response, I feel a sense of space and lightness in my body that’s been missing, AND I literally just laughed out loud at myself while writing this little I’m-not-having-a-perfect-summer confession. (And we all know that laughter breaks spells, right?)

    So THANK you, Erin. What you’re doing matters. You are, indeed, helping the world–and we do, indeed, want to hear what you have to say. Seasonal Soul is absolutely a meaningful contribution to my own struggling heart and to the world.

    KEEP.
    IT.
    UP.

    XOXO
    With love and gratitude,
    A Seasonal Soul in Santa Fe

    PS. Your husband really is one of the greatest.
    PPS. What’s a girl gotta do to see a picture of the house, painted the *right* color????

    1. Ahh Cricket. Thank you.
      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! Your words mean so much to me. And you are absolutely SO, SO not alone. (And why do we insist on kicking ourselves when we’re down?! We’re already feeling down and then we just pile on guilt and shame and so. much. crap. Ugh!) You are definitely not alone.
      I love you ♡

  4. Glad you are back! A few years ago, I made a drawing of that little voice in my head that ties me up in knots. Now when that voice gets in the way, I can talk back.
    Keep writing–I’m reading!

  5. I can totally relate. I never relax into things and I need to more often. I thanks for sharing and continuing to write.

  6. This really resonates! Thanks for so bravely sharing. It allows others to be brave. And finding the right paint color is a B$&%#!

    1. Amen, Sara. Paint colors are absolutely a b$&&#! Glad to receive some life lessons in the process. Thank you so much for your kind words. I can’t tell you how much it means to me! xo love erin

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