When I was younger, I kept a list of everything I did during my summer breaks. Of course, I had all the time in the world to plan and execute my activities. School was out and I didn’t have the crazy schedule and adult responsibilities that I do now. I was motivated by the desire to feel like I spent my time wisely so that, at the end of summer when I looked back, I could say I had accomplished a thing or two. This is where you will probably pause to think about how most kids just want to pass the time with their friends in a pool. While I did that too, there was always something I wanted to do or learn before summer was over, and it wasn’t always going to happen in the pool. So from the books I read to how many new activities I tried – like barefoot waterskiing – it was noted on a list, admired at the end of August, and tucked into a special box.
And I’m pretty much still the same way. Five summers ago I grew my first vegetable garden. Four summers ago I taught myself how to play the guitar. Three summers ago I volunteered at a summer camp for underprivileged children. Two summers ago I made pickles and entered them into a fair. Last summer I sewed my first article of clothing. Among other things. And yes, these all made it onto a “Things I did this summer” list; that’s how I can rattle them off so easily! I certainly won’t look back on my life and realize that I was bored or unaccomplished, and that’s partly why I do it. The other part is because I’m pretty much positively smitten with so many things!
My lists aren’t always mega-challenging, like scaling Mount Everest. Sometimes I just want to pack a picnic lunch on a sunny day that I should be working, or paint a waterfall at a park I’ve never been to. But even activities like these can be so hard to accomplish – time, priorities, and even talking myself out of certain adventures are all factors that get in the way.
Now that I’m older and have a full-time job, a house to take care of and a boyfriend to share my time with, it’s so much harder to spend my summers the way I used to. It’s hard to spend my time wisely, to be as proactive. And yet I still have a burning desire to do so much like I did back then.
It doesn’t help that when I’m short on time, I tend to fret over all that I want to accomplish but haven’t yet. If I had it my way, I’d have my summers free again so I could do it all. But that’s not the case, so rather than wait for the end of summer to reflect on what I did or didn’t do, I’m going to write a list now of what I hope to accomplish, and I’ll tackle them one-by-one. The hope is that by scheduling the time, it will make it that much easier.
So in no particular order, here’s my list of what I hope to accomplish this summer. I need you, dear reader, to hold me to it!
– Go to a winery and that chocolate factory that I keep hearing about
– Complete a race
– Sign up for a class (salsa dancing, painting, sailing, hunter’s safety course)
– Find a great cook who can teach me how to make tomato sauce and other must-know recipes
– Use a vacation day to take a day trip somewhere I’ve never been
– Ride my bike on a Rail Trail
– Camp out in a tent, whether it’s in a state park or my own backyard
– Go fishing at my favorite stream
– Go deep sea fishing in Maine
– Go whale watching
– Take my niece to the Butterfly Conservatory
– Sew something, anything
– Read a novel
– Spend a day in good ol’ Boston or NYC
– Spend more time with my friends
– Go rock climbing, zip lining or sky diving
– Schedule a day at the spa with my mom
– Volunteer for a cause I really believe in
– Go on a picnic, or two or three
Basically, if it’s crossed my mind as something I think I’d enjoy doing, I’d like to try it. Or if it’s something I used to do as a kid and my soul could use more of it, I’d like to do it again, this summer.
Having a list of things to work toward gives me something to look forward to. I can’t help but feel enriched, well-rounded and alive both in the moment and afterwards while reliving the memory. I’m well aware that this is a long list and is likely to keep growing. I’m also aware that I’m a perfectionist and I tend to feel inadequate when a list isn’t completely crossed off. I’m also well aware that some things I might not enjoy or might not be good at (every summer I’ve tried to learn how to drive standard but never practice enough to call it a new skill — notice it’s not on the list). Nevertheless, this is the list that will motivate me over the coming months. In the grand scheme of things, it will help me enjoy my life and not go through the motions. When the summer is over, I can’t wait to see what I’ve accomplished.
What’s on your list? Do you dream of taking a photography course or hope to go horseback riding this summer? Whatever it is that you daydream doing or learning, I hope this is the summer you make it happen!