Stop whatever you’re doing and read this list:
It’s by Vera Sweeney, who blogs over at Lady and the Blog (among other places). I first “met” Vera on The Mom Pack, when I used to have my own online business, and I’ve been following her blogs ever since. She’s that cool, funny, fashionable girlfriend you want to have over for Margaritas. And now she’s shared the Top 10 things she promises to do this summer. I found myself nodding over and over as I read her list, and it’s inspired me to create my own. (I’m borrowing a few of her great ideas, but I don’t think she’ll mind!)
MY SUMMER MANIFESTO
- Chill out in my gazebo whenever it’s not raining. Last summer, my husband built an awesome platform and anchored our screened gazebo to it. With the table, chairs, twinkly lights, and citronella candles, it’s a little oasis in the backyard from where I can perch myself to write, read, and watch the kids play. With the portable speakers, I just plug in my phone, tune to Slacker radio, and I have a library of tunes at my disposal. In the evenings, we move the table out of the way, rearrange the chairs, and enjoy Backyard Movie Night. (My husband hangs a homemade screen off the playset and we project movies from the laptop via a projector and the portable speakers.) It really is so much nicer than sitting in the house, albeit not quite as bug-free or air conditioned.
- Play outside with the kids every day. Like many mothers, I suspect, I usher the kids outside for fresh air and exercise in the hopes that I can get a few things done around the house without being interrupted. (Or catch up on Doc Martin episodes in relative peace.) This summer, I vow to take at least ten minutes to go out and push the swings, throw the ball, or squirt them with the hose.
- Read trashy novels. Ok, maybe not only trashy novels. But I do want to read what I like, what’s easy, what doesn’t make me feel guilty or cause me to re-evaluate every aspect of my life. In other words, something light, fun, thrilling. I have all winter when I’m hibernating to delve into deeper, moral texts.
- Host frequent cocktail hours. I have been toying with the idea of holding a standing cocktail hour at my house on Thursdays. A few years ago, a group of friends and I indulged in “Thirsty Thursdays”. During the school year, we would spend Thursday mornings sipping coffee together and talking until we had to pick our children up from pre-K. In the summer, we extended that to all day. The kids played in the yard while we sipped fruity drinks nearby. That just might have been my happiest summer in the past decade. I live pretty far from most of my friends, so I don’t know how many will actually join me, but I’m going to extend a standing Thursday invitation for whomever can and wants to come. After all, I have this big gazebo to put to use!
- Make the effort to go to the Farmers Market each week. I tend to get lazy in the summer. It’s the heat. So instead of making a separate trip each week, I just buy overpriced, over-ripened, eco-unfriendly produce from the grocery store. But not this summer! I am already craving fresh, local produce. We stopped yesterday and picked up some snap peas and kale. It’s soooo worth the extra trip!
- Go to the lake at least once a week, if not twice or thrice. I grew up with the beach in walking distance of my house, and while I’m currently land-locked, I have the good fortune of being near two wonderful lakes surrounded by sandy beaches. Just 15 minutes from leaving my driveway, I can have my feet firmly planted in sand, while the kids splash around in the cool water. It’s not quite the same as the ocean or Long Island Sound (where I grew up), but it’s sun, sand, and cool water… can’t beat that!
- Keep my toenails painted. I can’t commit to frequent pedicures, no matter how desperately I may need one. But I can commit to keeping my toes looking clean, neat, and polished. As for my fingernails… well, trimmed is about all I can commit to on those.
- Visit more museums/aquariums/zoos. I need to introduce my children to more culture. And with so many places offering free or reduced admission to military families, there really is no excuse not to take advantage this summer!
- Hike often. My husband loves to hike, and I enjoy it, too. We’re just not quite on the same level. He’s training to eventually hike the Appalachian. I like to look at the flowers and birds. But if I hike more, perhaps I can more closely match his skill level. Plus, it’s exercise and time spent together. The kids love to take hikes, too, though of course those are more like leisure walks.
- Make significant, measurable progress on my book. I actually have two works in progress, neither ready for me to open the door just yet. One is a memoir dealing with my years of infertility and my resulting spiritual journey; the other is a commercial fiction novel set in the 1980s that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2011. I promised my mom I’d finish the novel by her birthday in November, so my goal is to get it rewritten enough this summer that I can spend the fall proofreading and line editing it. For my memoir, I would like to get the essays I’ve already written organized somewhat, and write at least three more. This will probably be the hardest of my summer goals to achieve, but certainly one of the most rewarding.