When I Think Of Summer

What do you think of when you hear the term summer?

Many people think of cookouts, beaches, breaks from the stresses of life and school, and so forth. Every location celebrates summer differently, and every person, for that matter. When one is in a sunny environment, they tend to think of the beach and swimming to cool off. People in a colder environment might think of joining those in the warmer climate for a break from the chilly temperatures. I do not think of summer as a break, only because I still have responsibilities I have to take care of. Instead, I think of rollerblading, summer scents from the grill, sunrises on the ocean and sunsets on the bay, I think of ice cream at Woohoo (a local homemade ice cream spot).WooHoo

Thinking about summer made me curious what others thought about it, so I decided to do my final interview on the subject of summer. I interviewed everyone that I had previously interviewed, but instead of asking a bunch of questions this time, however, I asked only one. The sole question I asked was ‘what summer meant to them’. It was fun to see what my family and friends thought of when asked about summer. The answers varied as much as the ones who gave them.

The first person I asked was Sam, my sister-in-law, who loved telling me all the different things summer meant to her.

“A summer day on the island usually consists of bare feet, bathing suits, and tan (or burnt) salty skin,” she laughed and added, “gathering with my cousins that I haven’t seen in months.”

Sam’s family has this tradition called the Pearce family beach day. All of her of her relatives come stay at the grandparent’s beach house and spend the day together at the beach. She talked about another aspect she loves about summer, being island camping with her family, where they cookout and have fire pits in the sand, to tell stories around and eat s’mores.

“Summer makes me think of rowing my old blue boat down the creek to the special hidden spot just under the bridge, and crabbing for hours. Saturdays are for Surf City Yacht Club Laser races with my dad. A summer day in Beach Haven makes me think of Fantasy Island, and the occasional Ferris Wheel ride, that I still take when I want to get in on the carnival action.  I think of elephant ears, Country Kettle Fudge, Chowder, and ice cream.”

She said some of her favorite things were the wine tastings and pig roasts, but some other things she thought of, were romantic beach walks with her husband, morning jogs on the beach that leads to a dive in the ocean, fully clothed, a good book and a cup of tea out on the porch, and the unmatchable sunrises, when you are up that early, and sunsets that engulf the night sky with a ray of colors that cannot be replicated.

She ended by talking about what summer used to look like for her.IMG_9429.JPG.jpeg

“Childhood summer memories that have stayed close to my heart are playing in the sand and catching fireflies. We would run through the dune grass, gently catching fireflies only to release them and watch as they fluttered away.  Although I have grown up, it is amazing how the excitement and beauty of summers on Long Beach Island have never changed.”

It was fun seeing all my sister thought about when she thought of summer and how those memories of summers past, still stayed with her.

Next, I interviewed my friend Asia. Asia talked about how summer, for her, is usually a time of transitioning, whether it be in a relationship, a new location, a transition from work to school or whatever it is, her summer is when it happens.Asia

“It seems logical that it would be a transition, but I always thought summer would be a time to just chill and relax. But I’m always reminded by summers, that rather than a long time of rest, I usually tend to experience God when a lot is going on.”

(Side-note, isn’t it so amazing that it does not matter which season of life we are in, God still reveals himself to us, both in the stillness as well as the busyness?).

“I always find that when I’m in summer I want to jump forward to the next task,” concluded Asia.

I love the friendship I share with this girl because she is so inspiring in everything she does and never takes any credit, but instead, gives glory and honor to God. Getting to interview both times was such a delight and encouragement to go further in my own walk with the Lord.

After finishing my interview with that friend, I decided to talk to another friend about his interpretation of what summer meant.

“Church on Sundays, going to the beach two to three times during the week, relaxing by the pool with some friends, going on a nice morning runs, reading my bible outside with iced tea, and being with the ones I love,” responded Andrew

What I loved about this answer was that he was able to sum up the important things in a single sentence. He is one of my spiritual brothers and our relationship has reflected that. He and I have a special friendship, where we know how to push each other’s buttons, and we always have the best time together. It has been cool to see him grow into a man of God, as well as witnessing our friendship blossom too.Memory lane

Following smiles, as I have nicknamed my friend Andrew, I asked another friend who has helped me to grow in God continually. Sean is one of those people who naturally have a servant’s heart and I am honored to have a role model in my life like him. In everything he does, he does it in humility and exalts God in every aspect of his life.

“This summer was probably one of my craziest summers.” He said with a smile in his voice, “most of the time summer means vacation – doing something fun – traveling and being outdoors. This summer, [however], I was working at 2infinity (a trampoline park in Lakeland).”

As he paused, I could hear his wheels turning, “Summer means a time of working. Pushing myself to perform at my best. Summer still means a lot to me with opportunities to travel, but as I’ve grown up, it’s how I can prove myself – the testing period of my life, to see how far I can go, [and] because of my hard work, there is a reward in the fall time.”

The rest he got in the fall, was a gift he was thankful for, from God, because of the summer work and his obedience. It is a gift that God gives his children, after they follow him obediently, through a season of perseverance and labor, but it is never given to us, our way – it always will be in God’s way – in His timing.

Before ending he stated, “It is a time of stretching and growth from the Lord. It’s really interesting – I don’t know why God chooses to do things in me in summer – that’s my tax season.”

He was then, by my pressing, encouraged to add a little snippet about good leadership and what that entails.

“Even if I’m at work, church, or just at home, I serve. I serve by taking initiative. I serve so people don’t have to worry about [the responsibility and stress of] being in leadership. I take initiative be willing to serve. If you allow yourself to give away your time to another human being, that is a good use of your time. We’re never perfect, we make mistakes, but it is just being obedient to the voice of the Lord is key”Sean Sunset

Sean has been appointed to many positions of leadership, especially in the summer time, because of his natural nature to put others above himself and as he continues to serve, God gives him more opportunities to lead.

After hearing Sean’s take on summer and the busyness it brings, I asked Marissa what summer meant to her.

“I think a lot about resting, going to the beach a little bit, and doing nothing.” She continued, “I just went through my first summer where I was still doing things and nothing really changed.”

Her point was valid though when one is in school or a job that takes off in the summer, summer has a completely different meaning than if a job or education is year-round. I love Marissa and how she always brings an optimistic perspective. She is another role-model I look up to, and spending time with her, is always something I enjoy. Even though her summer is packed with work and plans, she still is on the worship team at church and makes time to spend in the word and with fellow disciples. I love her playing – it always allows me to come into a place of pure worship where it is just the Lord and me. I thank God for her heart, and for using her to bring others to sit at his feet as well.

Next, I thought I would reach out to a person that does have a seasonal job and has off only for summer and for school breaks.

My aunt who works at the school said that summer is a time to relax and “a time to recharge my batteries”. She talked about how in the summer, she has more time to spend outdoors and with friends that she has not seen during the school year, as well family she has not seen in the “off” months either. It gives more time just to stop and dwell on what the Lord is putting on your heart. The urgency to get things done is not as strong in the summer so it is easier to stop and rest.

She said, “my fall, winter, and spring is so focused on work, that when summer comes it’s a breath of fresh air.”

In the summer she likes to take on smaller projects, like a taking a teaching or a painting class. This allows her to stay sharp and to keep learning, even as she is not in the actual classroom.

Later on, I interviewed my mom on what summer meant to her. Being a real estate agent, she is always much busier in the summer month since this is a seasonal island. Ask anyone and they will tell you that June to the beginning of September is the most hectic months for a real estate agent. This, however, was not mentioned too much when asked what summer meant to her.

“The fun of having a filled house, with the family, the dog, and the activity” was the first thing she mentioned. “The light reflecting off the bay, putting on our sneakers, and riding our bikes to the end of the island, enjoying the beautiful breeze as we listen to worship music,” were other things she wanted to make note of.

She went further to discuss the beauty of the sunset on the bay and the sunrise over the ocean. Grilling and sitting on the deck with a nice refreshing drink and friends that stopped by, was discussed as well. We have not grilled too much this summer, however, but when we did, we loved basking in the sweet fragrances that filled the air, and the conversation taking place, while we waited.

“This moment is what summer means to me,” referring to the orange glow of the sunrise falling on the houses as the sun rose over the roofs as we sat on the porch, one morning, before our bike ride.

I love that my mom finds beauty in everything and everyone. She sees God moving in everything and is constantly reminding me of God’s presence surrounding us. Watching the sunrise on the ocean and worshipping with her, as we wait for the full picture of the risen sun, is one of both of our favorite summer activities. When I leave in the fall, this will be a sight that I will miss every morning, and look forward to when I come home on school breaks. 

Afterwards, I got to discuss with my sister, the significance of summer to her. Like Sean and Marissa, my sister has a job that does not stop in the summer so summers do not mean the same thing they did when she was growing up.

“Summer to me used to mean spending the entire time at the beach, but now it means trying to get done as much work as possible, before September hits. I say my vacation times have changed to be more April, October, and December.” When she was younger, she said that she would go sailing, surfing, working and “do everything that required me to go off grid”. Summer was an escape for us growing up. None of us wanted it to end and would try to take advantage of the precious time we did get away from the hustle and bustle of schoolwork, homework, planning and structured schedules with no extra room for anything else.

Although my sister’s schedule is a bit more structured now, like it was growing up, it is still nice to be able to see her when she flies up for a week to visit in the middle of the summer. The time we spend together now, even via FaceTime, has brought us much closer in our relationship. The age difference also grows to be less, as we both are getting older.

My nana answered then. “[When her children were young,] Summer became a free time because the kids didn’t have school.

She talked about how once my aunts and uncles were older, they would all go down to the shore house and take sailing lessons. And added how, now, the weather is perfect for gardening.

“When I was a kid growing up in Lyndhurst we would put a screen out on the porch and we would get to eat eat out there,” She reminisced.  “It went by too fast!! We would think ‘I got two months – wonderful. Then the next thing we knew, the cady ditz (August bugs) were making noise, telling us that summer was coming to an end.”

“I like summer clothes better than winter clothes – you don’t have to wear as many,” she as she laughed. “I like the summer food too,” she continued, “right now, we have the New Jersey corn and tomatoes, and we have a farm near us where I get them.”

I loved hearing how summers were for my nana as a child, and as to how they are for her and my papa now. Her birthday is also during the summer so that was always another thing to celebrate beside having off from school. It was fun hearing as she went down memory lane during her summers and it made me feel like I was traveling those old familiar paths with her, in the way she recounted the events and memories that occurred.

Following nana’s trip to the past, I interviewed my pop pop on what his thought of summer was.

He had this to say, “I am so blessed that I have all these blessings, and thank God for blessing us, with so much abundance. [Summer is] To be able to go to the shore, go to the ocean, and the bay and think how fortunate I am.”

Pop pop loves getting to see his family come together and spend time together at the beach house. We all go with him to church on Sunday mornings and since we live together, we are able to go upstairs or downstairs to see each other. Sitting out on the deck, enjoying company and the sunset is another thing that my pop pop enjoys doing. He loves just spending time with us all together – That always makes him the happiest.

 

I later asked my friend mike what summer meant to him.

“What summer means to me is relaxing time spent with family and friends, as much as possible. Most of my life, summer has meant time off from my busy schedule during the year.” Then paused to think for a moment, “However, in the past few years, it has meant just the opposite. Summer time is now filled with constant home renovations on two Victorian homes that require constant attention. Combining that with a busy real estate schedule, results in much less time off than I have been accustomed to. This is not a problem for me, as I love to spend time doing both. I just have to plan relaxing time now and that’s ok, compared to before when I just relaxed without planning.”

It was great talking to Mike and seeing how summer does not look the same now, as it has in previous years. I definitely relate to summers changing over there years and what they represent for me in that specific season. It is nice getting to have a relaxing summer but some people, like Mike, thrive in the busyness of summer but welcome the opportunity to relax when all is said and done.

In concluding my interviews, I asked my uncle his thoughts on the matter.

“Summer is a time that centers around friends and family because you’re with your them more now than you are the rest of the year. It’s about being around the water and being around friends you’ve known for a long time – its like a home away from home.”

He then talked about the appreciation everything we have here. We have so much at our fingertips that we are given. 

“We live in a beautiful area and we are very blessed with this life and blessing we receive from the Lord.”

Summers are ‘people focused’ more than ‘event focused’ – in the winter it tends to seem like many things are focused on the event more, but summer at the beach is more about family and friends – the time shared.

My uncle finished by saying, “It means doing fun things, doing more outdoor activities like tennis and sailing, it means just being at the beach – I have spent all my summers down at the shore, and that’s what it means to me.”

I enjoyed listening to my uncle tell of his summer. He was able to summarize many things about summer that makes it such a delightful season. It allowed me to see what he believed to be important and what summer is supposed to entail. I could not agree more with his take on what summer means. And what a perfect way to outline what summer means.

Life at the beach, in the summer, offers such a fantastic place of fun, laughter, friends, and life! There is always so much activity everywhere and always fun places to visit. Families come together and friends are reunited after a long time away from each other. Summer is a time for physical, emotional and spiritual growth as we persevere through our jobs and responsibilities. It is a time of transition in our lives and our circumstances. It is a time to celebrate life by cooking outside and delighting in the warm weather that meets you as you head to the beach. Summer is hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s warm weather and swimsuits. It’s time that is not rushed and hugs that have been contained for the long months apart. Summer is sunrises, sunsets and unmatchable beauty by the Creator as he displays his artwork for all to partake in. Summer is the memories made that linger long after the sand has left our feet.

Pass It Down

Family. What comes to mind when you hear this term?

For me, I think of all the generations that have paved the way before me leading up to the present generation. I think of how my family continues to grow more branches on its tree and the branches go wider as well as up. As children grow up and get married another limb is added to the great tree.

I thought it would be cool if I got to talk to some of the branches in my family ancestry. I was able to get four very different perspectives from my grandfather, you will see me refer to him instead as ‘pop pop’, my grandmother aka nana, my mom and my sister, Adi who just had a baby of her own.

Three generations.  Four accounts. Four perspectives about life in the present.

I started with something easy, ‘what did you want to be when you grew up’? I was not expecting the variety of responses I received from this, however.

“Successful in whatever job I had.”My pop pop told me. “[I wanted to] Become a good manager and be respected by my peers and subordinates.”

“[I wanted to be] a nun.” Said my mom, “I was changing my name to Sister Marie St. Bernadette.” She continued. “As I got older, [I wanted to become] a Physical Education teacher then Physical Therapist. 

“I wanted to be an architect.” My sister remarked then said, “I thought dad’s office was the coolest. I loved visiting R.I.S.D., [Rhode Island School of Design], and all the old buildings.”

Even while we go out walking today, she still is intrigued by the architecture of all the houses we go by. I find it amazing that after all these years, she is inquisitive about different types of structures and the material used. There is no doubt she is her father’s daughter.

“A wife and a mother. I love my house. I like to cook.” My Nana answered.

She said that was always what she wanted to be ever since she was little. She loves being a mother to her six children and now is a great-grandmother to her expanding number of great-grandchildren. She loves to serve all of us by cooking for us, giving us advice about life and living, being someone who is there if we need anything and she loves every other aspect of mothering even after her children they are grown and are children of their own.

This is a perfect transition though because the next question I asked was what advice each interviewee had for their children and future generations.

Nana’s advice was simple and to the point, “Enjoy it [Being a parent]. Love your kids. It goes by very fast, the first thing you know they don’t need you. Enjoy every minute of it.”FullSizeRender-1

Next Adi responded that she has a book of advice she is going to give Eliana when she is older but gave one piece of advice for now. 

Save up enough so you do you not have to work your first year so you can take a maternity leave for a year.”

Mom said to “Delight in every age and stage.  Never let the negative situations overpower the joy that is to behold.” She added, “Always have the Lord at the forefront, even if/when they walk away from him – make opportunities in camps, schools, concerts, to get the word and presence back into their lives.”

“Be honest and fair and don’t show partiality and love them – love God first, your wife second and then the children. Always teach them right from wrong. Reward good behavior. Always be there for them.” Pop pop advised.

The following question I asked was about living a happy and successful life. I asked them to tell me what they knew now that they did not know when they were in their early twenties.

“Marriage is 50/50 but if you want a really great marriage make sure it’s 40/60 and that you are the one that is giving more than you get. I have a husband who tells me every day how beautiful I am.”

Nana went on to say how she would argue with him about it but papa stands firm in what he knows to be true in his heart. His wife is still as beautiful today as he is fell for her.

Pop pop said, “Being more aware of God’s presence and the presence of the Holy Spirit and observing the holy spirit working in my life and in the lives of other people.”IMG_3595

This is what he realized later in life that he did not understand earlier on.

Adi said that in her life she saw how many opportunities she had given to her when she was in her early twenties that many people are not fortunate enough to have. Doors that were opened that she took for granted. She went on to say that when her daughter is older, she is going to make sure that Eliana takes the opportunities that push her forward such as internships starting in high school to gain experience and connections.

My mom responded to happy and successful tips she did not realize earlier as being,“Confidence in the Lord as my strength, directing my path, and being my peace.”

She went on to discuss how she needs to remember that every day, “I lacked confidence and found God as the source of strength.”

Another question I asked was something funny that their child or children did or said when they were little.

My niece, who was  still very little, only a few months old, thought she was “singing along with Andrea Bocelli and her mouth was wide open and [the] noise was coming out and she truly thought she was singing along with him.”

My sister flashback to the scene, “all the sudden I look down and she looks very focused because she thinks she is singing along to the music.”

As I wrote this, I was laughing as I, myself thought of the scene.

My mom recalled her funniest memory of my siblings and I, as the car ride to school and the dialogue that went along with it.

“I think the cutest and memorable was the shout from the back seat of the car when driving the family to EC.  “Swipture voose!”’

[Because as a child, I could not pronounce my “r’s”].

“Always redirecting and keeping us on task.” My mom said.fullsizeoutput_338

Another story she reminisced about was “when Aunt Sharon fell and looked injured.  [Then I say,] “Can we just Pway!”

 [Again with my Boston accent as I put my hands out in front of me to emphasize the importance of the request]. 

A third recollection she had was “getting the Christmas photos back and noticing Parker put his socks on his ears.”

Hearing my mom talk about these stories brought me back to when they happened and allowed me to relive those precious moments too.

I think my pop pop’s story was one of the funniest I got to hear, only because I had never heard it before.

“When I came home from work they would always run and hide and Sharon would put Bonnie in the close hamper in the bathroom and she would hide behind the sofa and she was easy to find and I would start shouting ‘where are they’ then I would go into the bathroom and start to move the clothes hamper around and I could feel the weight and I knew Bonnie was in the clothes hamper so I would keep yelling where are they and would turn the hamper upside-down gently and Sharon knowing that Bonnie was in the hamper, would be giggling hysterically, thinking that I didn’t know Bonnie was in the hamper.”

I was able to picture my mom in the hamper as her dad turned her upside-down and played with her.

The final question I asked was about the effect of the war on each of their lives. I made a note not to specify which war so they could tell me which one had the biggest impact on them.

First, I asked my pop pop since he is a navy veteran and fought in World War II.

“I saw first-hand the hurt that came to a family of one of my buddies when we sat on his front porch and a kid pulled up on his bicycle and delivered a telegram to my buddy’s dad. The telegram informed him that his son had been killed in Normandy, France.” He went on, “I served with many guys on submarines that went through the second world war. I personally witnessed the phycological trauma that had impacted them. They were my shipmates.”

My sister talked about a life-changing event that was not a war but was still significant to this Country, September 11, 2001.

“September 11th was the most impacting war event that affected me. I can tell you exactly where I was sitting and what paper I had in my hand when we heard that the two towers fell. We housed all the kids who couldn’t go home because they lived in the city and the bridges were closed.” She recalled about the “boys from Nicaragua who were already staying with us from the orphanage as well.”

We gave a full house a new definition.

“At the same time, it was horrifying because we had people trying to kill us on the other side of the world and that is when I really understood what race was. [Being on the] wrong side of race. It’s terrifying.”

She talked about how these other countries were allowing racism against us just because we were American.

Then my mom answered, “I don’t remember much other than the Vietnam protests when I was in kindergarten, we were sent home when J. F. Kennedy was assassinated that was the most memorable political disturbance.

It was a blast doing these interviews with my family and hearing the different life lessons and stories they had to share. It was a welcome trip down memory lane for all of us and it helped me get a more vast perspective on my own life and experiences as well as lessons I hope to pass down to my grandchildren someday.

Hopefully, this encourages you to go out and learn about your family history and take the time to see how they got the perspective that they have now. Walk in their shoes, so to speak.