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Summer 2012: A Creative To-Do List

It seems easy to be lazy during the summer months, but this summer I am going to be creative, adventurous, and productive.

As a student, and now as a teacher, I typically make a summer “to-do” list. A huge list of things that I want to accomplish before the new school year rolls around to improve, inspire, and better myself. Honestly, the idea of productivity and summer don’t typically go hand-in-hand, and my summer bucket-list never really finds itself finished (or even half, for that matter).

But this summer will be different! And that is why I’m sharing this list with you. While my actual list is a little more specific, and rivals Hugo’s Les Misérables (1,400+ pages ...I kid), I’ve narrowed it down to a few general areas.  I have even dubbed it the “Summer of Creativity” because everything I hope to accomplish is a means to nurture the creativity inside me. Here they are:

Read
I have to admit, for most of my educational career, as a student, I hated reading. I don’t think the education system fosters the desire to read. But, I’m learning now that if you give a person the right material (...that is if they can read ...which brings me to a whole different education system argument) they will enjoy it and want to continue.
I have already finished a few books, and have a long list to continue through (trust me, when I look on my goodreads account it is daunting and seems nearly impossible). I’ve got a lineup that includes graphic novels & comics, non-fiction, historical fiction, classics, cook books, young adult, among many others. There is so much you can learn from a book that can inspire and motivate, you just have to find what it is that you enjoy.
I, myself, am still learning what I like to read. I think that’s why I’ve found myself in two book clubs and frequenting the NC Public Library. I have signed up for emails that send me a quote of the day, a word of the day, and I’ve started following inspiring people on Twitter (bye-bye Kardashian's!) I want to be immersed in new thoughts and ideas.
Which brings me to one of the books I most recently read. If you are interested in learning about where inspiration comes from, how the creative process happens and when it is most effective, (and really, my motivation behind devoting myself to a summer of creativity) I highly recommend Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works. I finished it in less than a week and I put it down feeling like I was ready to change my life and my educational philosophy.

Get Out and Explore
We live in an awesome area, hours away from some of the most beautiful landscapes, interesting cities, and amazing cultural places and events. It is my goal to explore new areas, meet interesting people, and learn as much from them as possible.
I think I am most excited that on June 16, the Akron Art Museum will be opening the Gravity and Grace exhibit and hosting artist El Anatsui. He is by far one of my top three favorite working artists and I am blown away that I will get the chance to hear him speak and see a whole exhibit of his work so close to home.
While many of these things I hope to do are within the visual art field, many of them topics and areas unfamiliar to me.
For example, yesterday, for the first time ever I found myself in a canoe on the Tuscarawas River. It was amazing to me, that for 20+ years I had lived about 30 minutes from this and had not once had this experience. I found myself with a desire to not only sketch and photograph my surroundings (it was beautiful!), but I found myself curious about the history of the area, I wanted to get out and stop to clean up the banks (there was so much litter!), and I found myself in some fun and interesting conversations with the people I was with. Just one afternoon and one new experience had me inspired in so many different ways!

Perfect My Own Skills & Cultivating New Ones
Obviously I want to continue to grow and perfect my own artistic skills. I have looked into workshops offered with the area and entertained ideas of volunteering with local arts events. But while most of those require money, one thing I know I can do for myself (and is free of charge!) is to continue working on my own personal art. You learn to draw by drawing, paint by painting, photograph by photographing. Get the idea? So I’ve pulled out my small sketchbook and thrown it into my purse. It will follow me around this summer and come out (hopefully!) once a day, if only to jot down an idea.
Other skills I hope to improve? Well, I have decided to not put my writing to the side this summer, and hope to journal, blog, and document, both personally and publicly.
I’m also interested in learning how to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. My husband and I expanded our garden, and I hope to cultivate my green thumb and a more “green” way of living.

Create Curriculum Maps and Develop Student Learning Objectives and Assessments Based on New State Standards that are Aligned with the Common Core
Yeah, you heard me.

Like I said before, this is just a brief list of things I hope to accomplish and hopefully as I continue into the days and weeks of summer I can keep up with my list and go back to work at the end of August feeling productive and accomplished.

What about the rest of you on summer break (and those who are not), any goals you hope to achieve by the time September comes around?

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Christina Weyrick-Cooper June 06, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Great list, Ashley! The North Canton Public Library has a program on gardening tonight at 6pm and still has a space or two left if you're interested. :)

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