What I learned this summer

5 Important Lessons I Learned This Summer

And how they've affected me.

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Most of my summers in the past have been filled with boredom, no money, and Starbucks coffee. Well, this summer I changed things up a bit with a trip to Europe, a job, and new responsibilities.

1. Falling in love young is a blessing.

I started dating the love of my life this summer, and he makes me the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Most people doubt young love and it's longevity, but there is not a single doubt in my mind that I will spend the rest of my life with Jake. With his influence and his love this past summer, I have become healthier and realized that it's ok to be vulnerable and open up. It may just lead you to find your person.

2. Getting a boring summer job makes you really value your money.

We all know it is a whole lot easier to spend other people's money. $200 shirt on sale for $175? Heck yes, what a deal! But when you work, and you begin to really think about how many hours of work $175 dollars is...that deal becomes...em not so great. Working this past summer at a boring retail job really made me realize that money, in fact, does not grow on trees.

3. While Starbucks is good, you can't buy it every day. Sadly.

Ok so my favorite coffee shop is a little place called Serda's, but their prices go hand-in-hand with Starbucks, so the same principle still applies. I would go every single day, without fail, to Serda's and get myself my medium soy latte. $4.44 doesn't sound obscene until you start adding up all those $4.44 for a month. Luckily, my parents bought me a Nespresso machine and I began making my own lattes and saving some major money.

4. Traveling around Europe with your best friend is a life-changing experience.

I had the opportunity to spend the month of May in Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, and Italy with one of my dearest friends and her family. They were kind enough to show me so many amazing places, and together we created so many amazing memories that I will never forget. So while I learned the value of money, I also learned it's okay to spend a little and have some fun sometimes too.

5. Spending quality time with your parents is important.

After being away at college and away from my parents for the first time ever, it was nice to be able to spend the summer at home with them. We got to spend countless nights bonding and cooking together, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I had an amazing last summer at home, and I will always cherish the memories I made.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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Poetry On Odyssey: Rain

I've always loved the rain, for how it fascinates me. A calm reminder from the sky to let things be.

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Rain

There is something about when it rains

It's as though the world goes quiet, and time remains.


A calming shower for the grass and trees.

A dance of raindrops for those who see.


I've always loved the rain, for how it fascinates me.

A calm reminder from the sky to let things be.


For even the sky has days it weeps.

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