This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.

What I Learned This Summer

This summer I learned to be suspicious of all people. You can’t trust others.

This seems like an odd thing to write, because on the one hand I tend to opt on the side of suspicion: you want to talk to me? What’s wrong? You didn’t respond to my text? Is everything okay? (And if you have my dog, is she okay?!?! Also, if you have my dog, please don’t call me. I will think there was an emergency. #beentheredonethat) But on the other hand, I also trust too easily.

It also feels like an odd thing to write, because I’m a blogger. I’m supposed to look for the good and for things to be grateful for. And yes, I believe in that. I believe in looking for the good things at all times. But I also believe in owning your feelings and right now this what I’m feeling: you can’t trust people. At this time,there are less than a handful of people who I would say I trust whole-heartedly.

This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.

Sometimes you need to flee. Go to a different state for a weekend. Find a place an hour or so away that feels completely different than where you live. Sometimes you need to get away from your surroundings to relax and think about other things.

Horses smell good. Seriously, they do. Lean into their back and take a deep breath. (Unless you’re allergic… might not be so comforting in that instance.) Each horse also smells a little different, too. Which makes sense, I guess. Dogs smell different. And yes, before you ask, I’m one of those who thinks the smell of a dog is comforting, too.

This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.

Also: horses have the gentlest eyes. I could just stare into them all day. I’ll probably get lost in them, too, because I have. My friend was asking me to get something for her and I totally tuned her out as I stared into Lily’s eyes one day.

Home isn’t a place, but the place where those who your heart are. Whether that’s with people, or dogs, or horses. Here’s the thing: once upon a time I was in love with Minneapolis. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else (except maybe Ottawa), and I was so happy that back in the day my parents made a decision I did not agree with and moved here.

This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.

During that last few months, that changed. I could easily leave. At least, I could easily leave Minneapolis. The problem is that I live close to my niece and nephew. I love being able to see them regularly. I love going to their piano recitals and band concerts. I love having them over for movie nights. I love being able to watch them grow up and it would be different if I lived farther away.

Driving can be therapeutic. I can see people giving me the side eye with this statement. Here’s the thing: I don’t like to drive. I find it to be rather boring and I’d rather do other things with that driving time. However the first time I went to Wisconsin this summer, I realized why people talk about how therapeutic it can be. Knowing I was going to be in the car for four hours, with music playing, and time to myself with my phone out of sight. That open road was therapeutic for me.

This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.

If you start to feel yourself slip away, you can come back. Earlier this summer I mentioned that I left a job that had turned into a toxic environment for me. One of the first things that made me realize I needed to leave is that I wasn’t doing the things that were so much apart of me anymore… things like writing and reading. I still remember the night I spent in tears last fall as I wondered if I could even call myself a writer anymore, because… what had I written recently? And whenever I tried to write it was so. hard.

I also wondered if I would be able to get this part of me back. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to; you hear from people who say that life got in the way so they stopped writing and haven’t started again. I had always vowed that wouldn’t be me and yet I let myself stay in an environment that wasn’t good for me long enough that it did. Would I be able to write again? Would I be able to pick up a book to read and lose myself in it again? And yes, that has all started to come back. I’m finally starting to feel like me again.

This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.

But it doesn’t happen overnight. I know it’s unrealistic to think it would, but hey… I’m a dreamer. I thought I’d sit down the day after my final day in that job, and the words would just flow. It’s not that easy, though. I’m still not where I once was with writing and reading, but I’m doing both and I’m so happy about and satisfied with that.

I also thought as soon as I was out of that job I’d start posting three days a week again. That didn’t happen either, but I have been posting more and more each month. I’m happy with and satisfied with that, too.

A battle song goes a long way. It can help you feel like you can conquer the world if you initially wake up thinking you can’t. I mean, having a battle song isn’t a miracle worker; it doesn’t always give me that kick butt feeling. But, more often than not it does. Maybe for you a battle song is more about the music, maybe it’s the lyrics, or maybe it’s both. My battle song is actually part of a concept album, so it’s really not the lyrics, but the music will usually get me up and moving.

What are some lessons you learned this summer? I’d love to chat about them in the comments!

This summer I had to deal with some unanticipated things that came up. Here are the life lessons that I learned during this unexpected summer.


  1. Anna Hubbard

    September 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

    I definitely agree that driving can be therapeutic!!

  2. Beth_Daily_Dog_Tag

    September 11, 2017 at 10:43 am

    While I trust a lot of people, I’ve learned to trust myself the most. A few times in my life I have listened to someone else when my gut screamed no, maybe I only remember the times I was right, but it feels like every time, I say “I should have listened to my instincts.” I agree with you, home is where the love is, and for me that is family and dogs!

  3. Beth Kondrick

    September 11, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I love how real this post is. I’ve been through times like this where I’ve learned that you can’t trust others and it’s a hard reality to face, but I’ve also pulled the people I can trust closer. I believe you can get lost in a horse’s eyes for sure, they are so soulful and wise. And home is with what you love. Definitely. <3

  4. TheEmiTimes

    September 11, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I love this post. I agree that sometimes you just have to go to a different state or even a different country. Sometimes getting away from your surroundings is such a good thing. I also believe that driving is therapeutic. Sometimes I will just drive without even having a destination.

  5. Nancy Powell

    September 11, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    This summer I learned that too much travel isn’t a good thing! I was exhausted and burned out. I guess too much of anything is not good.

  6. Julie Scott Thorne

    September 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I can certainly relate. This summer, I felt like time was more precious. I tried to put more in perspective and to teach my kids to do the same. I also learned I cannot please everyone.

  7. Corey Wheeland

    September 11, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I love these life lessons. You can always be learning something, you just have to make sure you look around and pay attention!

  8. Paula

    September 11, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    These are such wonderful lessons – I loved reading this. Like you, I love the smell of horses – it reminds me of my summers going to camp in Northern Minnesota. This summer I was reminded that time goes by much too quickly, and we need to embrace the time we have with those we love. Thanks for sharing this post!

  9. Helen @ Hel On Heels

    September 11, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    I love learning life lessons. Seems like you had a very eye opening summer.

  10. Hanna J Smith

    September 11, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I can totally relate to the slipping away and finding your way back one. As a PPD and Anxiety sufferer I can deeply relate to this one.

  11. Charlotte

    September 12, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I love this post so much, Crystal. I need to surround myself with horses a lot more. There is so much wisdom in their eyes, you are absolutely right. And writing… yes, I fall off the wagon more times than I’d like to admit, but I hope you forgive yourself each time you do and when you sit down to write. I’m glad for you that you got out of that toxic work environment. It’s crazy what that can do to a person.

    Sounds as though you learned many important lessons this summer. Sending much love and thanks for sharing your words–always an honor to read them 🙂

  12. shootingstarsmag

    September 12, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Sounds like you learned a lot of great things this summer. I’m glad that you are starting to feel more like yourself after leaving your job. It’s great you are no longer in a toxic environment. Nobody should have to deal with that, but I know it’s not always to get away. As for trusting people, I like to see the good in people and things too – but I don’t fully trust a lot of people either.


  13. Nicole Kamai Couchman

    September 12, 2017 at 10:11 am

    A battle song is everything because music is really life changing!!

  14. Patricia

    September 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    These are some very deep and important lessons. It’s so important to recognize where you are and respond to what it is you need!

  15. Kristin Longacre

    September 12, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    You definitely learned a lot this summer! I understand wanting to be out of a toxic environment. Sometimes you need to just take a step back and re-evaluate everything. While it might not have been the summer you expected, it sounds like it was the summer you needed.

  16. Rachel@The Confused Millennial

    September 12, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Ugh I so feel this. Such deep and important lessons, many of which I can relate too. I’m so sorry you’ve been going through a tumultuous time, but happy you can find peace and grow for the experiences <3

  17. Kuleigh

    September 12, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Good for you for leaving a job that didn’t leave time for the things you loved. I recently removed myself from a similar job experience and I feel so much more at peace because of it!

  18. Ice Cream For Dinner

    September 12, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I love what you said about horses! I feel like they are the most relaxing animal!

  19. Megan Anne ❄️

    September 13, 2017 at 1:15 am

    I love the idea of learning something every season. Great list of things you learned this summer.

  20. Kimberly M

    September 13, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Contrary – this is what blogging is about. Pouring your heart out.
    This blank space is all yours. The best blogs write straight from their heart – and this is exactly what you did.
    I think that when life is making you feel boxed in, you need to escape it and I am so proud of you for doing that and reevaluate.
    I’m proud of you. Big things happened in your travels. I think they will shift your ground and push you forward in better directions.
    This was a great post. – real.

  21. Stephanie Lynch

    September 13, 2017 at 8:29 am

    The part about home being where your heart is… I can 100% relate to that. We moved to Texas almost 3 years ago, but the rest of my entire family all lives within 5 minutes of each other in Southwest Florida. I didn’t want to move back there, so when we talked about moving close to family, we came to Houston by my in-laws. But I’ve realized that I want to be in Fort Myers. My parents, my grandparents, my cousins, my nephews, they are all there. I am trying to make the best of Texas while I can, but I am just waiting for the right opportunity to move back to Florida.

  22. Lindsay @ The Flynnigans

    September 14, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Seriously, every one of these points hit home. <3

  23. Adriana

    September 15, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Love this! Sometimes the best learned life lessons do happen unexpectedly. But it sounds like you learned a lot, which is so important girl!

  24. Erica @ Coming up Roses

    September 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

    That first tweetable tho…*APPLAUSE* That sums it all up so perfectly, Crystal!!!


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  • Met this handsome fella today. His name is Chauncey. When he blooms he’ll smell like eau de rotting meat and will make everyone swoon. 😍🥴😷 (If you live in the Twin Cities and visit him on Tuesday you might be able to see/smell him in all his glory.)
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PS - There’s a new post on the blog featuring this guy and a few other cute dogs. 🐶
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Yesterday was a hard day. It was filled with this view, that brought some peace. It was filled with cute dogs, who brought some comfort. It was also filled with a lot of anxiety and tension and sadness. We ended the day in a group and our conversation was filled with tears as we talked about what’s happening right now and how we feel.

And then the tears turned to laughter as we reminisced about the past and talked about dogs.

It brought to mind that quote by the wise Albus Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” The day I left, a friend and I were chatting and he said, “Your heart must be aching.” And it is. I wouldn’t necessarily describe anything I’ve felt as happiness, but yesterday I was reminded (because I’ve always known this, sometimes it’s just harder to remember) that the heartache and sadness can coexist with easier moments, too.

I can enjoy this view and accept the peace that it brings as I wonder what the outcome of this will be. I can feel the heaviness that I might not see this person again and accept the comfort that these dogs bring me. I can band together with people that I love to live through a rough day, but also enjoy the good moments that we share in the midst of it.

Laughter can accompany tears.

And when I live through days like today, I wonder if it’s exactly what we need in order to get through them.
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