Summer of Intentionality

Dear Friend,


Just saying the word elicits a certain feeling.

Though I loved school so much that I became a teacher, I have always wholeheartedly welcomed summer. There is just something about the possibility of summer, the way its days are a blank canvas to mold into what you most want, what you most need. But for too many summers, my excitement about what might be possible in a summer was never fully realized.

Then, in 1995, I learned a powerful tool that changed how I approached summers and how I am hoping to help my son approach summers. Like several summers before (and many after), I was working at a holistic residential summer enrichment program for high school students called Love of Learning. The program always began with a very intense, often emotional staff retreat to help us form bonds and make plans that would enrich our work.

Usually, the retreat included the writing of personal mission statements and manifestos (and thus my belief in the power of both was born), exercises meant to help us capture our values and gifts in a way that would allow them to be our guide as we did our work. These sessions were the highlight of the retreat for me, always making me feel inspired not just by my own statements but awed by those of my co-workers.

One of my closest co-workers was a dear friend who was a year behind me in school. This particular year, he included part of Rudyard Kipling’s If poem in his statement and my mouth rounded into awe as he added the words from the top of his head while we worked together in the corner, a pile of candy between us.

“Dude, how did you know that?” I asked, impressed.

And that’s when he shared about the coolest parenting strategy I’ve ever heard.

Every summer that he was growing up, his parents sat him down and said, “what all do you want to do this summer?” And he would come up with this super list:

go to the local amusement park

check out a pro or semi-pro baseball game

have a friend spend the night

camp out

go to the beach

go fishing

 Basically, the stuff of summer dreams.

 Then they said, “what do you want to learn or experience this summer” and that list would read like:

learn how to throw a football spiral

identify 5 insects

write Grandma three times

read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc.

 Then his parents would add their own things to the learn or experience list like:

Memorize Rudyard Kipling’s If

Volunteer, etc.

 Next, they’d line up each experience with a reward.

 Write your grandma three times, you can go camping.

 Memorize Kipling’s If and you get to go to a baseball game.

 And so on.

Those lists hit the refrigerator and then it was up to my friend, by being intentional about how he spent his time, to make things happen. If he did what was on the “to experience” list, he earned what was on the ”to do” list.

Hence, more than a decade later, he still had If (a great poem for a kid to know) in his head.

Intentionality matters. Needless to say, the idea of capturing what I wanted to do and experience over the summer- a master to do list if you will- thrilled the girl who always kept a day to day to do list.

Now, my family has our own version of this tradition that we call Summer of Intentionality. During Memorial Day weekend, we sit down and brainstorm a master list of things we want to do over the course of the summer as a family and things we think are great for our son to try or do (like learning how to make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich or going through his toys and donating some). While we’re at it, I make my own personal list that includes some fun things that I want to do and some bigger work to dos that I’ve been dreaming about getting off the ground but that my teaching schedule prohibits during the school year. When we’re done, we transfer the lists onto butcher paper and hang them prominently in our home. As each item gets completed, we cross them off our lists. For items with multiple parts (like read 100 books), we keep track of them in a journal until we’ve completed them and then check them off the master list. These master lists work whether or not you have kids and no matter your kids’ ages. As Happy gets older (I am thinking either the summer after Kindergarten or the summer after First Grade), we will likely move to the “earn your adventure” approach.

Today, I want to encourage you to create your own Summer of Intentionality dream list for you or your whole family.

What do you want to learn, do, experience, enjoy?

Capture all your wishes, make plans, and then get started having a summer that lives up to your hopes with the caveat that not necessarily every single thing will be crossed off the list, but you are far less likely to get to the end of summer and think, “I wish I had made better use of my time.”

We would love to hear from you. How will you be spending your summer? Leave a comment and let us know about your summer plans.

And as always, if you have questions for us, please let us know.

With much adoration,

 Rosie (and Tami)

 PS – If this message resonates with you, please let us know what spoke to you. If you know someone who might like it, please forward it to a friend.

summer of

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7 Self-Care Tips to Get You Through The End of the School Year

It’s right there. The light is at the end of the tunnel. The finish line. The end of the school year is coming!

And with it a lot of additional stress from last minute grading, report cards, Open House, field trips and all the other time consuming business of wrapping up another school year.

It would be so easy to just power through and ignore the fact that, despite your good intentions, you haven’t exercised in weeks and you are eating lots of sugary treats in the staff room to fuel your over-filled life. We know. We’ve been there.

But we also know it doesn’t really work if you want to feel good mentally, physically and emotionally.

Instead we offer an alternative to business as usual.
7 self care tips for end of the school year

Self-Care Tip #1

Ditch the soda and coffee and replace it with lots of plain water.

A lot of times we think we are tired and hungry, but really our body needs water. Next time you are feeling sluggish or hungry grab some water and see if it doesn’t perk you up.

Self-Care Tip #2

Take 10 for 10.

As in 10 minutes of guided meditation for 10 days. It sounds counter intuitive to spend time meditating instead of working, but trust us, it works!

Headspace offers a FREE 10 day meditation program. Tami did it last summer and is still with the program 9 months later. With LOTS more space in her head. And life.

Self-Care Tip #3

Use the buddy system.

Make a pact with a colleague to do one hour a day of personal time. Maybe you do a yoga class or hit up the gym. Or instead you read for pleasure in the tub. Just make sure you have an accountability partner to keep you honest!

Self-Care Tip #4

Go outside.

Nature heals. Maybe it is a walk on the grass bare foot for a few minutes or a half day hike with your family on the weekend. Just get outside and let nature do its work.

Self-Care Tip #5

Turn in upside down. You can even do it with friends.

Check out this post from Tami about how to make it through the day without more coffee or trip to the vending machine.

Self-Care Tip #6

Stop thinking self-care takes a lot of time.

Check out this post from Tami on how to use a timer to take better care of yourself.

Self-Care Tip #7

Drop one thing.

Instead of trying to keep every single commitment when clearly you are up to your eyebrows and totally stressed the limit, drop one thing.

Rosie shows you how in her post Drop One Thing.

We hope you find these tips helpful and easy to implement. 

Please hit reply and let us know how the end of your year is going.

With much adoration,

Tami and Rosie

PS – If this message resonates with you, please let us know what spoke to you. If you know someone who might like it, please forward it to a friend.

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