By: Sandra L. Churchill
The temperature today hit 90 degrees and morning dew was heated to a mist nearly at dawn. In recent days, summer has surely arrived. Sunlight is blazing down, meadow flowers are blooming, and the earth is warm and green. School is out for some and in the home-stretch for others. At our house, this means it is time for summer wishes—not the birthday candle kind or wish-upon-a-shooting star variety…but a glorious journaling that takes “to-do” lists to a joyful new level.
Much like the mindset of New Year’s resolutions, our family often uses summertime as a 12-week sabbatical to tackle special projects, visit new places, embark on outdoor adventures, and use the longer daylight hours to grow and learn. Of course, we still have work schedules to juggle and the usual household chores. But there is something wonderful about using the break from school to go painting en plein air at the park, head for a summer evening walk, watch the sunset at the beach, take time to pleasure-read on an outdoor swing, or polish cake-decorating skills. Sometimes we start with the “fun list” of summer traditions such as the local drive-in movie theater, picnic spots, or gazebo concerts.
Other times we embark on “this year I want to learn how to…” yearnings shared aloud. One year it was learning how to make our own jam. Another year it was tackling solar oven recipes and expanding our camping menu of items that could be made easily in the woods over a fire. We’ve embarked on charcoal drawing or watercolor painting journeys, mastered new games, learned archery, and pursued letterboxing as a family. One daughter taught herself to French-braid last summer, and my son is mastering knock-hockey with a home-made board this year. I am crocheting a family afghan and finishing my third novel while my husband is prepping for a yard sale and experimenting with grill marinades.
Sometimes the projects are insanely practical. One year we did a 30-bin overhaul sorting clothing, decorations, and myriad other items stored in the attic. This was such a burden we motivated everybody with lunch take-out and a trip to play laser-tag. Other times, projects are more about fun—such as inventing new smoothie/shake recipes and taking time to make ice-cream. The premise is not about project specifics, but about expanding your personal horizons.
Tips to make your own summer wish list:
- Start with a journal or small notebook—just for this purpose.
- Try listing some places you’d like to visit this summer—museums, restaurants, beaches, even relatives or friends you’d like to visit.
- Include books you’d like to read or movies you’d like to see. (We’ve done Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Gone with the Wind marathons, among others.)
- Are there skills you’d like to try? Jewelry-making, golf, hiking, origami, crocheting, French cooking, learning a new instrument, writing a song…the possibilities are endless!
- Is there a project you’ve been longing to tackle—scrapbooking several years’ of birthday parties or finishing a quilt? How about organizing the basement or clearing out mismatched Tupperware in your kitchen cabinet?
- Are there special, summer-themed events you’d like to attend—e.g. outdoor band concerts at local parks, theatre productions at the Cape, stargazing at the seashore, etc.?
- Don’t forget to record any activities you decide to do on your list. This helps to savor the season and not let the all-too-fleeting days escape before the colder weather arrives. It’s wonderful to look back on your summer wishes coming true!