Summer 2016 is off to a great start.
In the first six weeks, I’ve gone home twice, spent a week in California, started a job I’m in love with, and taken some new adventures around the city. My summer will end the second week of August, so to maximize the remaining half of the season, I have (of course) compiled a list of things to accomplish in that time. It starts with learning to be positive and ends with attempting to grow something — a pretty apt reflection of how I’ve transformed since this time last summer.
1) Be positive. Since last June, I have endured one of the most personally challenging years of my life, and I’ve often struggled with optimism in the face of obstacles. Last semester, I started a document called “Positive Notes” with the intention of writing down the silver lining of every day. It fell off the radar as finals, work and moving took over my life. One of the first things on the list was, “The three-year-olds I babysit are going through an ‘I hate you phase,’ but even when they hate me they ask if they can sit on my lap together while we read bedtime stories.” I’m really going to try to start again because looking back on the little things will make me smile.
2) Do active things. Barre is my most recent obsession, and I’ll talk about it at length with just about anyone who will listen. Besides that, I’m getting back into a gym routine, going to free yoga (!!!) on Sundays and training to do a 334.5 mile bike ride next summer. I am also dying to take another trapeze class, go kayaking on the Potomac, and hike another trail at Great Falls.
3) Do tourist-y things. D.C. is cool, and I should appreciate that more. Some tourist-y attractions on my summer bucket list include the National Arboretum and the top of the Washington Monument. Some off-the-beaten-path destinations are Dumbarton Oaks gardens and a taco place that people just won’t stop Instagram-ing.
4) Read widely and deeply. I’m currently reading three off-the-charts-awesome books — “Anthropology of an American Girl” (which is making me feel all my feelings), “#Girlboss” (which is inspiring me to be a full-time bad-ass), and “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences” (which is full of the hilarious autobiographical stories of one of my all time favorite journalists). In case you can’t tell by my current reading list, I definitely have a “type” when it comes to books. This summer, I’d like to read more editorials, long form magazine pieces and lifestyle blogs. (Cait of Pretty and Fun and Kate of The Small Things Blog are always inspiring — yep, the second one is a mom blog, but her kids are just so cute.)
5) Take more pictures (not just for the sake of Instagram). Sometimes it seems like I only pull out my phone to take a picture when I’m planning to share it on Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook. We’re all probably a little guilty of that. This summer I actually want to document my adventures — the things around me, the places I see and the people I’m with. I want to think about photography, not about social media.
6) Pay it forward. There are a lot of little ways to tackle this vague goal. When the cashier at the grocery store asks if I’d like to donate to pediatric cancer research, I could answer “yes.” When a person on the street asks for spare change, I could answer “yes.” When I see someone wearing a killer outfit, I could compliment them even if I don’t know them. When I’m missing my friends or family, I could send a “just because” letter or care package. Kindness always goes such a long way.
7) Learn to cook. Part of being a successful adult is learning to cook food so as to sustain yourself with nutrients and energy. I have failed at/completely disregarded this necessity all summer. Maybe Adulting can help.
8) Make a budget and actually use it. Ugh. Money. I’ve avoided basic financial literacy way too long. It’s time to step it up.
9) Prepare for next semester. This one’s lame, I know. But I need to go into this fall with a plan. I won’t bore you with those details, but it basically involves cleaning up my computer and making an obscene amount of lists. And also arts and crafts.
10) Make something. I’ve always loved arts and crafts, and my first upcoming semester as an RA guarantees I’ll have plenty of projects to do before the start of the school year. Last year, I painted inspirational sayings on some canvases and hung them above my bed. I’ll have to come up with some new wall decoration ideas in addition to bulletin board plans and door tags.
11) Write all the time about everything. OK, so this one is also a little bit lame, but still pretty important. Items on my summer writing bucket list include: pitch, write and report a story for NBC; write a short piece of fiction; journal every day and include details other than those of my own day; blog more often and attempt to find some sort of focus.
12) Learn something new. This could probably be filed under “Learn to cook.” But I need to learn some other skills too — like how to braid hair, for example. Summer is a good time for this.
13) Sleep. Wow, I have read, write and sleep on this list — what a fascinating summer I’m going to have. But a girl’s gotta sleep to be healthy and productive and put together, right? Right. So sleep stays.
14) Do an iconic summer activity. Last summer, I went to a drive-in movie with one of my best friends for the first time, and then the car battery died (after my dad told me exactly how to prevent this and would not come get us when he heard of our stupidity). And then we got really cold and had to huddle together while watching more big screen movies than we had intended to. This is the most “summery” activity I did last year, and it’s still a great memory despite the unfortunate turn of events. Maybe this summer I’ll go pick strawberries or bake an apple pie. Or maybe I’ll just relax by my cousins’ pool and that will be enough to make me say, “Wow this feels like summer,” and I won’t have to embark on these fruit adventures.
15) Reconnect with someone. Unfortunately, going away for school and staying in D.C. for the summer makes it all too easy to fall out of touch with some friends from home. Some long lost friends from journalism camp are in town for the summer, and I have plenty of catching up to do with PA friends as well. It can never hurt to reach out to people you were once close to.
16) Grow something. I have long roots in gardening (ha, get it?), but ended up killing the plant my mom got for my dorm room this spring. So I’ve been plant-less for a few months now, but I think I’m ready to try again with a new flowery creation.