Return of the Summer Bucket List

Looking for inspiration about what to do this summer? Try a making a to-do or ‘Summer Bucket List.’ Here’s a peak at mine.

Back from hiatus is my own summer bucket list. And, a short diatribe on why the term ‘bucket list’ is probably not very inspiring.

The dictionary defines ‘bucket list’ as “a list of things a person wants to achieve or experience, as before reaching a certain age or dying.” I’m totally on board with a running list of things you want to experience. But do we have to have ‘before you reach a certain age?’ (Don’t even get me started about dying.) Why do we have to make everything a race or competition? Why can’t it be a life list, or notes on things a person wants accomplish, explore or see?

While I am TOTALLY guilty of using the word bucket list, the more I think about it, the more I realize it doesn’t capture the essence of what I’m doing. I create short lists and notes about what I want to see, hear, explore and do because… well, let’s face it, without a list I’m inclined to forget most of it and spend my summer weekends on the couch. (In my defense, it can get crazy hot and humid in Washington DC). How’s that for brutal honesty?

Unfortunately, bucket list and even summer bucket list are catchy and people readily understand the root of what you are talking about. And, no matter how you define Summer -the time of year where you can wear white, three months of no school, those warm and sunny days that come before winter- Summer is a time where everyone wants to get out and go.

Generally speaking, I prefer not to travel too much in the summer. Most of the destinations I’d like to be at are too crowded and the cost of June, July, August travel is prohibitive. Instead, I lay low and relax. But that’s no reason not to get out and do things.

My Summer Bucket List (yep, still cringing about using that phrase) took a hiatus last year. I had too many things going on and was too caught up in overwhelming sadness and dealing with the blows of life. It happens. I knew I’d never do anything I wrote down. Knowing this turned out to be a critical turning point. Instead of setting myself up for failure, I decided to start looking inward and work on myself. So in a manner of speaking, taking a break actually helped me get my groove back.

The 2017 Summer Bucket List. As of this publication, I’ve already nailed two on my list. (Yes, if you follow my adventures and writing, there is a duplication from the 2015 list. I never quite got to Gospel Brunch at the Howard Theater.)

Enough with the personal stuff. This year’s list is healthy mix of things to see, explore, do and listen to around the great Washington DC area. I also added a few personal things, stuff that is important to tackle but for whatever reason, I get a mental block when I think about them.

If you are in Washington DC and looking for adventure, message me here. I’m always looking for someone who’s willing to expand their horizons and trying something new. I’m told I’m also pretty good at helping people plan a visit here.

The Year of No Summer Bucket List

You may have noticed, I’m late publishing my annual Summer Bucket list.

I’ve always had secret lists of fun adventures for the summer. Two years ago, I started sharing and writing about them. I enjoyed the local outings and weekend getaways. It’s fun to explore your own backyard. And, it was a lot of fun to see who was interested in joining along (and for what). You think you know a  person and POOF, suddenly they are all in for gospel brunch? Who knew?

For reasons outside this space, I didn’t actually finish my summer bucket list last year. I’ve reflected on this a lot and can say it truly, even deeply, bothers me. But I can’t seem to figure out why it bothers me so much.

Its possible that as an organized, list maker type of person, I have a gnawing feeling about unfinished business or broken commitments. It’s possible life got in the way. I had a lot going on last summer and at some point, the stress and emotional baggage I was carrying led me to shut down. Its possible, as a Type-A, hard charging person, I have a residual a sense of failure over these self-set goals. The truth is probably a hybrid of all of these things. While I continue to obsess, dissect and dwell on this (as opposed to allowing myself to move on), I have become more self-aware of my limitations as a result.

That’s a gift because late last fall, I was thrust very suddenly into the role of caretaker. (I’d love to share more, in fact it would be cathartic. Its not my story to share and I certainly don’t have permission to do so.) In this role, which most of time makes you feel like a failure because there is little you can do to heal a person, I’m painfully aware that writing a list of fun things to do, knowing that most of them won’t be possible, is … well, its pretty damn depressing. Whoever said being more self-aware was good, may not have been in this position.

It’s a one step forward, two steps backwards kind of thing . Some days you see the light at the end of tunnel and breath deeply. Other days, you feel shut in a dark closet, your hands groping the walls in a desperate search for the door latch. Things will improve, I know they will. It just takes time. And while I wait for them to improve, I don’t have the mental capacity to be side tracked by in town excursions, trips overseas or around the U.S.

Until things are “back to normal” rest assured, I’ll be day-dreaming about places to go and things to write about. With any luck, the summer bucket list will be back in all its glory next year.





The 2015 Summer Bucket List

Summer! Whether you define summer as that time between Memorial Day and Labor Day (rejoice! You can wear white without worrying if you are breaking a fashion rule), or if you follow the Farmers Almanac more traditional first day of Summer (June 21st: thank goodness I for the extra time to mentally prepare), we can agree the season is here.

Summer in the US is synonymous with barbecue and vacations (or staycations). Because I march to my own beat, for me, Summer means the return of my the Summer Bucket List.

Inspired by Carla Birnberg, I made my first summer bucket list last year. It was so much fun, I decided it will be my new “thing.” Here are a few highlights from my inaugural list.

2014 Bucket List Highlights
2014 Bucket List Highlights (from the bottom left, up and around): Pottsville, PA road trip, Ride in 2nd Trek Across Maine, Photography Tour of Central Park, Kayaking on the Potomac River, a National’s game and Visiting the re-opened Washington Monument.

This year’s list is not as extensive as my first go-around. I have a lot of work lined up and don’t want to be disappointed about not getting everything done. I’m already dealing with one failure, why set myself up for another?

But really, the length of the list is not what matters. The list is a collection of things and mini-adventures I want to have. Writing them down and sharing them becomes a device for making it happen. I mean, let’s be real. How many times have you said you wanted to do something and months, even years later, it still wasn’t done. Yeah, I thought so. I’m guilty too.

Instead of lolling around wasting beautiful days, my Summer Bucket List helps me prioritize my weekends, days off and most importantly gets me out enjoying life and all that the greater Washington DC area has to offer. Without further ado, here is the 2015 Summer Bucket List.


What do you think of my summer tradition? Would you make a Summer Bucket List?