An Interview with Summer Lydick

I recently wrote a blog about how I see the Sacred Feminine walking in the world today – in real people, in me. She walks with an open heart, willing to witness and connect; allowing and healing in all sorts of ways. I know so many folks who embody and express all of that. And so I was inspired to connect with some of them to chat, both to strengthen and to expand my perspective on it all.

The first person I was drawn to was Summer Lydick. I met Summer on Instagram a year or more ago and was intrigued by her colorful, layered art and her buoyant approach to life. In the last several months, though, I could feel a change, a deepening in her and I started to really pay attention. (It continues to be fascinating to me how unfiltered, honest sharing on social media can be felt so clearly.) I reached out to her through her artist website to set up a Skype connection. Meet Summer…

Me: It feels to me that PEACE is something you explore and feel deeply about. You have retreated for some solitude and quiet in the past months in order to find peace. Can you put into words or images what that feeling of peace is for you – how it feels in your body, how it changes you, how it changes your world, and/or how it shifts others when you seek and find it?

Summer: Another word for peace is acceptance – of the moment, of everything. I did a meditation retreat not long ago with a great schedule – first an inside meditation and then an outside walking meditation. I took off my shoes in the meadow between the forest trees. For my whole life I’ve been looking for this big bolt from the blue, this aha moment to tell me “here’s the purpose, here’s the path.” Then a thought came on this walk, “Is this it?” followed by a voice that said, “Yeah, and why do you expect more?” That’s the whole thing. We’re always seeking something else as humans that’s nicer than this moment or that we saw on TV that is better than we have. So peace to me is really about acceptance of the present moment because that’s really all we have. Everything else is a memory or a desire and so really feeling into that – leaning into that – and letting it be enough is peace. And then I went to India.

Me: Yes! India – WOW! – I love the whole idea, the action, the intention of that trip for you – turning 40 and coming into your own power, living life on your own terms – knowing the power of that intentional transformation and moving into it. With all the beautiful, good, wonderful things that came during that trip, you also ‘lost your shit’ a handful of times – before and during. And now after as you process, your realization that only peace can help you return to yourself. Explain if possible.

Summer: I was definitely intentional with the India trip. I’ve always been intrigued with India for the colors, patterns and architecture and would pull from photos for my paintings. So it was cool to actually walk around in those images. But it’s also India – one of the poorest countries in the world and the closest thing I’ve experienced to a war zone. I panicked in the airport on the way there without knowing why, but then realized, ‘I am scared.’ But I wanted to keep going. And then two weeks into the trip I had a moment because things were moving so fast with the travel schedule. My goal was to deepen my meditation and I did have two times it really happened. Once this happened in a tuk tuk with utter chaos pressed up against me from all directions for 30 minutes several cars deep. I just had to find my calm space inside and not lose it. I kept thinking of my cat back home – my little savior – and I was able to deepen. But beyond those fleeting moments, there really was just no time to process any of it while I was there since it was so fast paced, so when I got back to my peaceful little home I cried and had chocolate cake and red wine for two weeks. After living on adrenaline for 45 days, it took me a little bit not to be in the fight or flight space. It took me a bit to realize what it all was.

All of my peace was shot. India was a snow globe. It just shook up everything – stuff that I thought was behind me that was floating around again. That was unexpected. I knew the trip was going to be hard, but I did not expect the fallout and depression to follow – the revisiting of old stuff. It helped me shed even more layers of ideas and thoughts that I was clinging to – the looking for answers and seeking peace. Now I look to nature more – everything goes in cycles. The tide goes in, the tide goes out. Animals are either vigilant or at rest. If humans are vigilant, people think they’re restless so ‘take a pill’. If humans are resting, they say you’re depressed and ‘take a pill’. I just want to pattern myself after the cycles. “Everything is for a reason” or “Hang in there” or “God has a plan” – all of this may be true, but maybe not. Maybe it’s just the cycles of life.

Me: So that’s a lot of layers to unpack. What’s your most recent learning from it all? What are you feeling now?

Summer: I think about India every day, but not for the deep processing any longer. The biggest thing that has me right now is my partner leaving. It’s been almost a year ago now. It was a freaking death – a voluntary death – and it still gets me every day. I’m trying to get through that, yet I know there’s nothing to do but let time pass. We just really want to be loved and accepted by people. And when I think about why my partner left me – he left me because I am who I am and that was a real eye opener. That’s going to happen when you are yourself. Love and connection are more rare than I used to believe. Yeah we are so similar, but there are those tiny pieces of us that make us so different and those differences just don’t jive with everyone else. That’s why family and friendships are really important and valuable because those are the few people who get you.

Me: Yes, healing often simply requires time to pass. Are there any other tools you’re using to heal? 

Summer: One thing I’m looking into is the realization that I miss having someone to take care of, so I’ve applied to a local girls’ shelter in my town. It feels like a place where I can feel needed and mentor one of the girls. Family is all different shapes and sizes. There’s always someone around that needs love and attention. I can be a big sister or a crazy aunt. Hopefully that will be something to be of service, to be able to care for someone who is really in need. And I recognize now that this can be expressed outside of a romantic relationship.

I’m also getting into the studio again. The artwork I’ve been creating shifted to something really safe and simple and comforting…a safety net or playpen of sorts. And the whole time I’m doing it, I’m asking in my head ‘Is this really me?’ And the answer is ‘No, it’s not. It’s just what I needed to do for awhile to heal after India.’ So now my creativity is waking up a little better and it’s feeling more organic and the color squares I’ve been using feel limiting. So I’m looking forward to getting back to painting and seeing how all of this loss and India will work its way through me. Creativity is a weird little thing. My process is usually very free flowing with the music on and the windows open. Just truly being me at the easel. I can never just say ‘this is what I’m going to do’ and do it. That will feel good and healing again.

Me: You talk about coming home in one of your Instagram posts. You describe the freedom in loving the life you’re already living. And that it felt like time to lay down the questions as well as the answers. LOVE this. Can you expound on it? How does it translate to everyday life? What are the questions and answers you’re letting go of?

Summer: I’ll always have questions, but I used to cling to certain answers that this is the thing! I’d find certain books or people. Even religion is an answer, so I got away from that and latched onto spirituality for more answers, but we really don’t even know that either. So now things are shifting. The tide is just out. When it comes back I’ll have more things to say and do but now I’m just in a place of recuperation and healing.

It’s why I’ve taken a step back from Instagram. I started it to get my artwork out there and create a brand. It was great. Then my partner left and everything went to the toilet. I realized that there are other people on the end of this. It’s not just about collecting numbers. So then I wanted to step out with more authenticity. The more I tried to do that, the more I realized, ‘Who the hell do I think I am saying these things because I don’t have any answers?’ I’ve always been a seeker of truth and knowledge. I traveled around the world looking for that and finally caught up to the answer that there are no answers. There are just questions. So I don’t know what to say on Instagram anymore. I was in such a fired up place a year ago when I reread those old posts. And now I’m more holistic and wiser and the fact that I don’t really have anything to say. Who am I to give out my two little cents? It doesn’t feel like I’m called to be there anymore. To be a persona. I just want to connect in my community and be of service rather than casting ideas and positivity on Instagram. I used to believe ‘Whatever you seek you will find’ and ‘What you put your energy toward you can create and manifest’ and now I don’t believe any of that. You can hope for the best and it can get you places, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee anymore. I’m just out here swimming in the soup of unknowns like everybody else.

As for my current home…I love the peace and freedom of my current life. My schedule is to wake up and check in with what I want to do now. Every day looks different. Maybe eating ice cream for lunch and drinking gin for dinner. Just being who I am. This might be a shock to people, but I’ve finally accepted that I am a free spirit. ‘Oh, so that’s why I can’t do math!’ But it just doesn’t work. Now I know it’s why I do things the way I do and it takes a colossal effort to do it any other way – which I tried for years. That’s one thing about turning 40 – I just can’t do ‘it’ any other way. It’s going to come naturally or it’s not coming at all. So I’m just trying to follow that up to the point where I can still pay my bills and I’m good and I’m not flashing anybody my nipples.

Me: You’ve opened yourself wide on Instagram with your posts about how life is hard and we’re all in this together – the seeking, the heartbreak – ‘Feeling our way through guided by our hearts.’ My recent blog about the Sacred Feminine in today’s world mirrors this, i.e. the need to keep our hearts open knowing the pain that will enter as well as the connection and joy that will follow. How do you describe an open heart or being guided by your heart?

Summer: If you close your heart, you might as well pack up and go. Witness. Feel it all. Some people have their limits, but I want to keep going until I get it right.

Me: What’s ‘it’?

Summer: Life, marriage, career…so many have a bad experience and say, ‘I’m never doing that again’ and I think, ‘Don’t you want to keep trying until you get it right?’ I used to think I was too sensitive with everything, but now I want it to kill me a little bit – be moved by it – jump in, stay open, be present.

Me: Thanks, Summer, for accepting your beautiful, free spirited self!  I always feel that any time we share from our core, i.e. our authentic being, we are an expert – an expert of self in that moment. We need that. We need open honest hearts, willing to witness and to be vulnerable sharing what is seen and known. Not in an definitive answer sort of way. Rather from a space where we can admit that we’re just feeling our way through and connecting with others as fully as possible. It gives others permission to do the same. And, you doing so has given me permission to do the same.  

Rainbow Lotus 48×48 mixed-media with gold leaf on wooden panel

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6 Comments on “An Interview with Summer Lydick

  1. My sweet friend, Summer Lydick!!! Great interview. I’ve witnessed her growth in the short time I’ve known her! So proud to share membership with her in the tribe of warrior women. Sometimes simply speaking your own truth is the most valuable thing to do. It doesn’t have to be “profound” or move mountains. We don’t have to be gurus or life coaches. Just by sharing our personal experience we have the ability to add membership to this club we call humanity. Thank you, Summer, my friend, for doing just that!

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  2. It’s interesting to hear of others’ experiences in the searching of this life. And so true – just when we think we have it “right,” we find that it doesn’t fit anymore. I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Keeps us moving and growing. I don’t think I even believe in the “right” way anymore. Harder or easier ways, yes, but whatever way, as long as the end result is growth and compassion, I think that’s all that matters. Thanks, Summer, for sharing your heart! And thanks, Ellen, for doing and posting the interview!

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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