Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer School

Something about this time of year always has me feeling a bit nostalgic. As a kid, I loved summer vacation, and it always proved to be just that: a vacation. It meant time away from school (a good thing), trips out of town (a necessary thing, particularly for my overworked father), and an opportunity to improve myself (even back then, I was a self-help nerd).

Although I made fairly good grades (provided I enjoyed the course), school was not necessarily ‘my thing’ (ironic that I devoted twelve years of my adult life as a school teacher, don’t you think?). Don’t get me wrong – I believe a great deal of merit exists in most of these academic and athletic camps that have become quite popular these days, but I fear too many of our children are overscheduled right now when they should be relaxing and recharging for the upcoming school year. My youngest client, a girl of eight, comes to me three afternoons a week absolutely exhausted. She attends two summer camps daily, and when she leaves me, she heads to her piano lesson. It’s too much!

Sometimes just living life, even a kid’s life, can provide concrete learning that will ultimately shape our adult selves. Allow me to share a few of my own childhood discoveries that I still fall back upon today:

-Motor skills can be improved upon when one’s teen-aged aunt forces you to cut pictures of Shaun Cassidy out of Tiger Beat magazine. It wasn’t always easy – sometimes his face was in the shape of a heart.

-The ability to coordinate outfits and dress for any occasion is quite important and can lead to a great career (at least in my world). I am forever indebted to Barbie for that one. She slept in a Kleenex box, but she always looked fabulous – that’s a great example of understanding your priorities and ‘making do’ (to quote my mother) with what you’ve got.

-Sharing equals caring. Always the gentleman, Han Solo (in the form of an action figure) consistently offered his blaster to Kate Jackson when she and the other plastic Angels fought crimes in the Miller family living room. That’s also a good example of chivalry, which I’ve always found to be an incredibly attractive trait.

-I learned quite early in life the importance of good grooming thanks to Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers and a boy who encouraged me to get in touch with my feminine side (he’d already found his, and I truly loved him for it) by applying Vaseline to my eyelashes in order to make them shine.

-I can’t solve an algebraic equation or play an instrument well, but I do know the finer points of overthrowing one’s father as the head of the family business, faking one’s death, and overcoming amnesia thanks to countless summer hours spent watching Guiding Light (man, do I miss that show!)

-Lessons in compromise and strategic planning tactics occur when you share a room with your sister, particularly when negotiating which walls Duran Duran posters should grace, and which walls Rick Springfield posters should grace.

-Reading comprehension skills are greatly improved upon when one devotes hours to Seventeen magazine. A girl can hone her critical thinking skills by taking each quiz in the magazine, and discover, too, what type of boy she will marry, the colors that look best on her, and which hairsprays are the best at keeping her bangs resembling those of a mutant rooster.

-My music lessons came from listening to Amarillo’s All Hit Z-93. I would grow up and become the ‘Mid-Day Girl’ for that station a decade later. That’s one of those Law of Attraction spiritual-type lessons, too: what you think about, you bring about.

And I thought an awful lot about having fun, enjoying myself, improving myself, acting silly, and diving into weirdly creative activities each summer. I still do…

Beth Newman
Image Consultant, Life Coach, Author
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

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