Photo courtesy of Monica O‘Malley-Taveres

by Monica O‘Malley-Taveres

It’s summer break. And this teacher is celebrating. I am celebrating 25 years of teaching middle school. Complete. Along with hormones (theirs and mine), an endless stream of changes… mostly for the better, and a forward vision that cannot be contained.

I’m sitting here alone this morning, every possible window thrown fast to the sky. The ocean breeze must be perfectly southeast today, its lingering salty thickness fills my nostrils and invades every open space (although several miles away). I welcome it with a milky coffee and a pair of petite gluten-free muffins.

I revel silently in the quiet of the kitchen, absorbing all that summer brings and means. It is planning and dreaming and hoping. It is a garden just planted, laundry to be hung, a house to be willingly cleaned and organized.

Summer has always felt like a friend lifting an unnoticed weight from my shoulders. Not a burden. Just a heaviness that carries with it too few hours of sleep, and a jumbled brain.

This new freedom sparks my creative side. I long to tug the color from the not yet ready flower blossoms. For now I will be content with their amazing structure and late afternoon shadows.

I look around at rooms filled with filtered sunlight and indulge in the dappled glow that I miss on early-to-school mornings. I pretend I am a stay-at-home mom, and coddle two teens a bit more than needed…or wanted…I also sit here with regret. Regret for summers past…ones where my planning came up short…or my dreams became murky and lost.

So today I make myself a promise, one that only the ocean air and I will know…a promise to just live life this summer. A promise to feel joy or exude kindness. A promise to explore and listen and love. A promise to be patient with myself and to let some things go. A promise to write, write, write, to conquer the stack of books by my bedside and to carry my camera everywhere. A promise to head to the beach at least one a week (even if the house is a mess) to walk for pleasure and to eat healthy, yummy meals from the garden. A promise to not look back with regret…rather to look forward with hope.

Monica O’Malley-Taveres is on a journey as wife, mother, gardener, writer, photographer, gluten-free baker, decorator, teacher, and dreamer. Join her at