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Miranda: Summer Vision

Summer 2010

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.)
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.
  11. 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.)
  12. Reading. Been reading a lot lately, both fiction and nonfiction, and I want to keep it up.
  13. 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.)
  14. 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.)
  15. 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.)
  16. 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.
  17. 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.)
  18. 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.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Can I steal your list? Seriously, could our lists be any more similar? The only thing that wouldn’t be on mine is the whole connecting with the teenagers thing – mainly because I don’t have any, right now. Everything else? Exactly right on.

    And, i might add, the message on the header here is quite pertinent to my situation. I think I need to slap that sentence up on my fridge so I can view it every single day. I think I will.

    Love to you! xoxo

    June 14, 2010
  2. How affirming for me, Mary! Perhaps we could check in on a weekly basis, here at the blog, on how our summer vision rolls out over the summer?

    June 14, 2010
  3. That’s a great idea. You’re really inspiring me. thank you! šŸ™‚

    June 14, 2010
  4. Sorry for the barrage of comments, but I wanted to share one more thing. I had the idea, awhile back, of getting a big sheet or humongous piece of paper, and taking it outside. Then I’d let the kids go crazy with paint – using their feet, arms, hands, elbows -whatever (as long as they don’t get it in their mouths, I guess)! I thought that would be a very freeing expression of art for them, since I always feel like I’m telling them to clean up, not make too much of a mess, etc., etc., blah, blah…

    I actually wrote a post about it – and after I had the idea, I found this blog post:

    http://www.gypsygirlsguide.com/2009/06/inspired_by_a_celebration_of_c.html

    – which was so incredibly serendipitous that it seemed as if it was something that truly needed to be done. It would be a GREAT summer project.

    June 14, 2010
  5. Brittany Vandeputte #

    Well I don’t have a list per se, but I have one BIG goal and one little goal for the summer.

    The big goal:

    We close on our new house on June 30th and my major goal this summer is to unpack and settle in and make the place feel like home. It already feels like it’s mine–that it was built especially for me back in 1930–down to the paint colors on the wall and the modern and original mix of details. I just want to mark my territory, so to speak… and as an extension of that, I’d like the boys to feel at home and settled, too. So we’ll be doing a lot of things in the area and around the house to give them a sense of “home”.

    The little goal:

    I re-started the Atkins diet today because I am committed to getting my diet in order this summer. I’ve been doing a lot of emotional eating this year (and having “just one more taste” of all my favorite southern dishes) and have started eating gluten regularly, even though I know at any minute my stomach will rebel against it. Atkins, for me, is a good way to detox off of sugar and gluten, and since we’ll be in temporary housing for 18 days, that’s long enough to go through induction in an almost-vacuum where no one can tempt me to eat anything I shouldn’t. I’ve got Beef Bourguignon cooking in the crockpot and it smells heavenly. Day 1 off to a good start…

    June 14, 2010
  6. What a great project, Mary — I can just see it. Maybe we could schedule a blog-wide project day and all carry out our various versions of the idea and then share the results!

    Brittany, I can’t imagine what it must be like to find a house that feels so entirely “right.” Wow. Can you BELIEVE your move has finally happened?? (Or maybe it won’t quite feel official until you’re out of your temporary housing!) Your summer is pretty much guaranteed to be memorable — full of fun and discovery.

    June 14, 2010
  7. Miranda, first off I am so relieved to hear I am not the only one who has to read a book twice! For some reason I have this compulsion to get to the end and then I can “relax and listen” the second time through.

    2 big goals (maybe 3?)

    1. I want to learn a second language. I bought the cds to learn German since we are living in Germany – not the way to learn German (at least not for me). So I decided since home base for us is Arizona and I am constantly watching Dora the Explorer, why not incorporate this into learning Spanish. so the cds are on my desk…

    2. I came across this site http://binduwiles.com/buddhism/my-new-project-21-5-800/
    that is doing a 21 day challenge: 21 days of writing 800 words, 5 days a week of yoga. The challenge has been going on for about 7 days but I thought I would use it as a catalyst to get back on the yoga mat more consistently.

    2. I started taking an e-course about 2 weeks ago with Kelly Rae Roberts and I am getting up the nerve to put together handbound journals with mixed media prompts and questions for sale in my etsy shop and in the holiday craft fairs.

    June 14, 2010
  8. everyone’s points are great here! love mary’s paint idea!

    miranda, your teen connection point reminds me that i have really been enjoying connecting with my teen in a big way in the little moments we have together, and of course i connect with my little one everyday in the usual amazement of how little ones just take in the world and spit it back out in their wholly unique way. but you also remind me, though i blog about my middle guy a lot, honestly, my time with him is usually less than desirably spent trying to get him to conform to societal or family expectations, rather than just enjoying him for the unique, quirky and fun oddball he is. i need to make more of an effort to be with him, in what he enjoys and focus on him rather than always trying to avoid the godzillaville, etc…

    oy the guilt. and he just did a great job yesterday in his 5th grade ‘promotion’ ceremony.

    also, i am right there with you on the yoga!!!! i need it so badly, and finally got to the point post-surgery, months later, where i felt i could get it back into my life, then i tore a tendon in my ankle. i am SO frustrated. i want to jump and stretch and swim and walk, etc, and just am having to ‘listen to my body’ a while longer.

    robin, you kelly and miranda are like the energy equivalent of a different species to me, how you’re all so energetic and motivated doers! then i think, well, between the kids, home, cooking, writing, blogging, gardening, etc…i’m nearly there myself, just in a different way. but boy am i pooped all the time!

    June 15, 2010
  9. Cath C – girlfriend I am tired! I can’t seem to stop myself even in my “restful” space. But you are giving me a run for my money with your activities. Plus I live in basement in Germany so what’s there to clean really? LOL

    June 15, 2010
  10. lol! and i’ve been in that basement apt…..in massachusetts. gotta say, apt living does seem to cut down on the clutter, but it does feel like more. sunlight beckons for certain.

    June 15, 2010
  11. ABSOLUTELY!

    June 15, 2010

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