As we near the end of summer 2023, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what these past few months have meant to me. The big thing this summer has shown me is that it’s possible to be going through a difficult, trying period and still find so much joy. It’s shown me that two things can exist at the same time. This realization has given me a lot of confidence as I face what it means to get older—to have more responsibilities and more things to worry about.
Even when a worst-case scenario happens, I know I still have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. A lot of this is because of privilege, yet a lot of it has come from making the choice to not give up on the parts of life that matter most to me simply because I’m consumed by fear. I can be afraid and still get up every day, move forward, and live life as fully as possible.
June was a really busy month. I did my best to support my kids as school ended and they moved into their summer routines, while also trying to navigate the ups and downs that came with transitioning my business and closing a big chapter with my team.
I felt really numb throughout a lot of this month. In the middle of June, we made the announcement that Wit & Delight would be evolving into a new chapter, and I had a full-on breakdown. I’ve never been more scared. I had some really difficult conversations and I learned that the only thing you can do when things break down like that is to have grace for everyone involved. This time period felt like an ego death.
As I tried to navigate through the changes, I found periods of joy in the in-between moments. On June 9, Joe and I went with a few friends to Chicago for the Dead & Company concert. I enjoyed time in our new front yard. I announced the Nine Pines design project—something I’m so excited to be working on.
Throughout the month, I spent plenty of time outside. I went to dinner parties with friends, including a gorgeous dinner hosted by Brooke Faudree. I walked so many miles and played a lot of tennis. Our family had a pizza night at a nearby pizza farm. We went to the pool a ton. I ran in the rain with the kids. We celebrated Joe as he started a new job.
July kicked off with an extended family vacation in Hilton Head. I thought going on vacation was going to mean I could fully unwind, but this was not the reality. I was faced with a lot of triggers from family members—something that was no one’s fault. We just fall into old patterns sometimes. I felt a lot of my success fall into question because of the choices I had made in June. I questioned my ability to do this next phase on my own. I thought about getting a corporate job and setting this space aside entirely. It was a total “Who am I?” moment.
This month, I started to get really nervous about all of the changes I’d made with Wit & Delight. Summer has always been a really slow time in terms of incoming opportunities, but I didn’t know what this slowness would actually feel like this year. The wise part of me knew these changes needed to happen but my ego definitely didn’t take the quiet well. It was humbling, but something I needed to face and start to process.
Amid all of this reflection and doubt, there were some wonderful highlights. I took some incredible morning walks at sunrise. When Joe was out of town for work, I took the kids out for pizza and ice cream. It felt really meaningful to share those sweet little moments with them.
I learned the virtues of wide-leg slouchy trousers and found the perfect little black dress, which I’ve worn four times already. I made my favorite potato salad recipe. I watched all of Wimbledon and saw the Barbie movie—even with all of the hype leading up to it, I was still blown away. I read Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. It’s my favorite book I’ve read this year so far. Her writing reignited the hunger in me to express myself through words again.
On July 9, I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Myriel, to celebrate their second anniversary. The food was delicious and the space was beautiful as always. On July 16, the celebrations continued as we threw August an epic seventh birthday party in the backyard.
On the work front, I received all of the new Wit & Delight planners I designed for 2024. It was so fun to see them in person after the long design process. They’ll be available to buy starting this fall! I also finalized a lot of design details for the Nine Pines project and shared some colorful design updates in our basement family room.
At the end of July, we went up to Lutsen for our annual trip with Joe’s side of the family. I had the best sandwich on the drive up at Northern Waters Smokehaus. We ate lots of good food and spent plenty of time outside. Every year, I appreciate the simplicity of this trip more and more.
In August, clarity began to emerge for me around where I’m at with work and the content I want to create, particularly as it relates to my newsletter, House Call. I found myself feeling more excited about what’s to come and finding it easier to get into a flow state with work.
On August 1, I went to Goodwill and found an amazing set of canary yellow dishes. I’m so excited to entertain with them on countless occasions to come. Speaking of entertaining… I also launched a line of tabletop linens this month! I love how all of the patterned pieces turned out. You can shop them now through September 13 on Etsy.
This month, we had a few epic afternoon thunderstorms and I loved every moment. Getting to experience the mix of thunderstorms and gorgeous, sunny summer days has been really special. I’m so thankful to have a brain that can access such delight for both sides of the spectrum.
On August 7, Birdie had surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids. The surgery went well but the recovery was somewhat difficult. After a week or so, she was feeling so much better, and her breathing and sleeping improved dramatically compared to pre-surgery.
On the reading front, I dove into Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros and loved it so much. I’ve found fantasy books to be such a positive escape for me in times when I’m feeling adrift. It’s a lighter way to support me through difficult times.
I played tennis more days of the week than not. The process of learning to play tennis has taught me a lot about how to have a more trusting relationship with my body. It’s taught me to remain calm, even in constantly changing circumstances, and to trust that I’ll know how to react. On the court and off, I’ve been learning a lot of lessons through the act of not giving up.
This summer has felt different than summers past. I have that twinge of melancholy that comes with the back-to-school season, but also a sense of relief to be moving on.
This summer has felt different than summers past. I have that twinge of melancholy that comes with the back-to-school season, but also a sense of relief to be moving on. Things felt slower, heavier, and more difficult than usual through most of the season. I kept thinking about how I needed to be in this space, not run away from it. In the end, I think it was a real gift to take things slower and not try to numb the complicated mix of happiness and sadness that drummed through the background of all our fun summer moments. I can be in the middle of a really challenging time and still find ways to bring joy to my life. I’m so thankful for that lesson.
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BY Kate Arends - August 29, 2023
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.