What’s your idea of a good way to kick off the summer? I know that summer is supposed to be lazy, the period when you kick back, read a good book and daydream. That, however is the summer of myth. It may have been my summer at age ten, but it’s not close to the summers of ten-year olds these days. For most adults, summer is just another season for working hard. That this topic even comes to mind is due to the luxury I had of working in school systems for many years and to my current state of retirement.
My launch into summer has always been to create an endless things-to-do list of activities, places to go, new things to learn. I started my list in my head in early June and captured it in writing at the beginning of the summer break. I always began the season thrilled at the possibilities that lay ahead. However, the outcome of these annual adventures in mapping out my future is not what you’d expect. I rarely accomplished anything on my list. The sea of time I imagined spread out before me didn’t exist. Summer still meant working on weekdays, cleaning the house on weekends, doing the laundry and shopping for groceries. I wasn’t alone in recycling my list the night before the first day of school. “I had planned to get so much done over the summer,” followed by a shrug was everyone’s mantra come September.
This year our spring weather has been lovely. We are now lulled into believing that summer is on its way and we won’t have to wait until the end of July to see the sun for the first time. For this reason and because my writing class ends Wednesday, I started my list early: 1) Sit on the patio on warm evenings with my husband and a glass of prosecco, and watch the butterflies, hummingbirds and bees explore my garden; 2) lose fifteen pounds by eating small dinners and exercising; 3) take day trips around the region; 4) finish the first draft of my novel; 5) read a lot; and 6) bone up on Spanish conversation in preparation for a trip to Spain. This is much shorter than earlier summer lists and, therefore, sounds more manageable. I imagine it will end up as all my previous summer lists. That’s okay. I don’t need a list to enjoy the warmth of the season, the fresh fruits and vegetables, and seeing the neighbors outside for the first time in months.
If my list sounds too compulsive, a Facebook friend of my husband’s shared a different sort of things-to-do list — for use in any season: 1) write “To Do List” at the top of a piece of paper and write “make to-do list” as the first item on it; 2) check off that item on the list and realize you’ve already accomplished two things; 3) reward yourself with a nap.
Until the last 2 months, I have avoided making lists – of any kind. My reason: there has always been this gremlin in me that seems to take great pleasure in making sure I do not complete – much less even begin – the list of chores or activities I hope to accomplish.
With the death of my mother, and now my brother-in-law, I am finally finding to-do lists not only useful, but necessary. Deciding what tasks must be accomplished each day helps me to feel I have a little control – other wise I am more likely to run from one thing to another, and seldom complete anything.
I am looking forward to the return of the days of no-lists!