Letters From Miss Jill: The Beauty of Simplicity

By Jill Carstens

My hard-working, often- traveling father went to extremes to provide us with, frequently extravagant, summer travel experiences. But some of my fondest memories are of getting there; traveling in our car as a family, all squished into one tight automobile space, a bit uncomfortable but inescapably together.

jill carstens
Jill Carstens

For myself and my son, we kept our summers peaceful and simple. Some of the reasons were budgetary, but I also did not like to pack too much into those warm days that were supposed to be part of a relaxing time of year. We slept in and had leisurely mornings.

Jack would often have a Lego project happening on the coffee table or some ongoing setup with his Hot Wheels tracks and cars. I rarely made him clean it up if he played with it every day. We embraced being at home. Our home is where we can truly be ourselves and spending more time there allows us to reconnect with ourselves and our passions.

Clare Cooper Marcus, author of “House as a Mirror of Self,” suggests that our memories of home can act as a “psychic anchor, reminding us of where we came from and who we once were … where the person we are today began to take shape.”

We got out for field trips to Scheitler pool and to the mountains for day hikes. I stumbled upon the activity of letterboxing, which is a public scavenger hunt with online clues. These hunts made a hike more fun for my son when he was younger.

Some of these hunts happened downtown and taught us a little history of an area as well. All of our letterboxing is preserved in a little journal where we recorded the rubber stamps at the end of each hunt.

Additionally, I might sign up Jack for a class, but usually just for a week. We might go away for a weekend or two and we kept busy enough. But the theme was “take it slow.” Now that he is grown, I can see how our lazy summers influenced my son.

The slowing down during that time frame established an awareness of the need to stop for a little bit. He is a hard worker and knows the value of prioritizing and planning breaks. As the years progressed, the way of our summers indeed became a tradition, a time of year where we could look forward to “puttering.”

Things can get so hectic and busy during the school year. Is it necessary for us to race around every month of the year? Not having a plan everyday allows for spontaneity. When we are not rushing around to get somewhere, we also leave more room for humor and lightheartedness.

Maybe the dinner you planned isn’t working out, but if there is no hurry, you have more time to include your child in the process of cooking without pressure. As summertime ends and school hovers, remember that sometimes the simplest of endeavors create moments that become lifelong memories and wonderful habits.

Jill Carstens taught for 30 years and now enjoys writing for this publication! Email her with comments or story ideas at jill@denvernorthstar.com.


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