Miranda: Summer Vision
As of next week, all of my kids will be out of school and summer will begin “for real” at our house. I’ll no longer need to get up at 5:45 every morning (although I may still do so). Schedules will open and priorities will shift. The prospect is tantalizing.
Summer tends to fly by, of course, and I’m sure this year will be no different. That said, now that my youngest has turned 2, our bandwidth has definitely increased. We’re doing more — and sleeping more, thankfully — than we were last June. To make the most of my increased capacity, I wanted to focus my hopes and framework for the summer. (OK, so I’m a sucker for any excuse to make a list.) What kinds of memories do I want to create for my family this summer? Where can I invest in family relationships? In what ways can I further my personal growth? In what ways can I work toward my bigger goals, without getting stressed about deadlines and “shoulds”?
I sat down to think about all the things I wanted to do this summer, and areas where I have an opportunity to focus on my family, my creativity, and myself. I came up with a list of 18 things that I want to be mindful about and enjoy fully. Some of these activities are things that I’m already doing — and some are new. Some of these things will surely stay on the list well into next season and beyond. In total, the list represents all the “cylinders” I’d like to hit in the coming months in order to feel balanced (as much as I don’t like that word) and good about how I’m using my time.
Then I decided to turn my list into a vision board (above — click on the mosaic for a larger view). Each photo in the mosaic represents one item on my list. Some of the photos are mine, and some are from Creative Commons (photo credits noted). From top to bottom, left to right, the images/activities are:
- Having picnics. Eating outside is just plain fun. I want to enjoy al fresco dining as much as we can during the warm months, whether that means packing up dinner and eating on a big blanket on the grass at our local park, or just eating out in our own backyard. (Photo credit.)
- Doing art projects with the kids. With more time at our disposal, I hope to get through some of the craft projects I’ve been thinking about. Of course, doing something creative with the little guys is a great way to satisfy my own creative itch without needing solitude. (Photo credit.)
- Meditating. I’m trying to meditate every morning. It doesn’t always happen, but my plan is to still get up before the little guys do, and start my day with mediation and coffee before “momming” begins. (The photo is of my zafu and zabuton, where I practice in my bedroom.)
- Eating mindfully. I’ve been reading a lot about mindful eating, from Geneen Roth to Jan Chozen Bays to Thich Nhat Hanh. The Buddhist perspective on compulsive eating has opened new doors for me, and I need to stay in touch with this learning on a daily basis. (Guess what? I put my scale away about six weeks ago — something I never, ever, ever, ever thought I’d be able to do.) (Photo credit.)
- Running. I’m running 4-5 miles three or four times a week, and liking it, a lot. I’m getting faster, too, which — after nearly 15 years of running at about the same pace — is quite satisfying. (Photo credit.)
- Doing art projects for myself. I have a few painting and collage ideas percolating that I’d like to explore. I have such a steep learning curve in this department that it’s hard for me to tune out the inner critic. “What? What are you doing? This is the most hideous thing anyone has ever created!” <sigh> (Photo credit.)
- Writing. It’s been a few months since I’ve worked on my novel, and even longer since I worked on my nonfiction project. I’m getting itchy to return to both. This probably won’t happen unless I schedule the writing time. (Funnily enough, unless I commit to a writing session, I tend to find a million other things that need doing instead.)
- Going to the beach. It’s time at the beach that makes summer so memorable, isn’t it? I plan to take full advantage, from our local watering hole to our beautiful New England coastline.
- Baking with the kids. We already bake on a fairly regular basis, but I want to keep at it this summer — especially with my oldest son at home from college to help eat the end results before *I* do (see item #4 above, lol).
- Gardening. I love working in the garden, and this year I’m able to do so while the little boys play outside. I still have to keep an eye on them, of course, but I don’t have to worry quite so much about the youngest one eating ants or crawling into the rose bushes.
- Going out with my husband. We miss having a regular date night, and this summer I’m going to rope the teenagers into helping out each Thursday night. They only have to take care of the little guys for an hour before bedtime, so it’s not a hardship — oh, and I pay them, anyway. My husband and I really need this regular connection time and I’m looking forward to a “regular” date night, even if much of the time we end up doing something on a shoestring, like browsing at Barnes & Noble and chatting for an hour or two. (Photo credit.)
- Reading. Been reading a lot lately, both fiction and nonfiction, and I want to keep it up.
- Doing yoga. I haven’t done yoga in years — aside from the occasional DVD session at home — but with my meditation practice and Buddhist study, I feel like yoga practice is a natural addition. I have yet to find the right class at a convenient time and place (ha ha) but I’m optimistic. (Photo credit.)
- Connecting with teens. I haven’t been spending enough one-on-one time with my three older children (ages 19, 16, and 14). Tuesday evenings this summer are now reserved for time with my teens in rotation — whether that means going out for a decaf cappucino at Starbucks with the oldest, a music-blasting joy ride with my 16-year-old, or staying in for pedicures and a movie with my daughter. (Photo credit.)
- Taking pictures. I love photography, but I don’t know enough about the finer points and I feel like my lack of technical knowledge is holding me back. I’d like to make some time to begin reading through an excellent guidebook that my husband bought for me a couple of years ago. (Photo credit.)
- Keeping house. Don’t laugh. I actually like a lot of things related to domestic chores. In addition to mindfully enjoying the regular, daily tasks, I’d like to get to a few of the things on my household project list.
- Studying Buddhism. I find that I need to take notes from the books I’m reading, which usually means reading the book once through while making a few notes in the margins and then going back through the whole book again, page by page, to put all the pieces together. I also find that writing out notes longhand helps me “learn” and remember more effectively. (Photo credit.)
- Blogging. I hope to get back to writing at least one personal blog post a week, in addition to posting the usual items from our wonderful community of creative mothers and sharing at our Facebook page.
The list is long, but I have to keep in mind that I’m already doing a bunch of these things. I’m grateful for that; grateful for being able to do so many things that I enjoy and spending so much time with my family. This summer feels like an unprecedented opportunity in many different ways.
How about you? Have you thought about your summer in macro and micro terms? Are your “plans” as simple as “relax and enjoy” or do you have something more elaborate in mind? If anyone has created or intends to create a list — or even a vision board, digital or handmade — please share.