Inspired by the recent viral list put up by Italian teacher, Cesare Cata, who himself is inspired by the Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet’s Society, here is our own To Do List for a summer of learning, imagination, wonder and fun. As school finishes for another year and we start packing I’m looking at ways to expand all of our minds and really make the most of all the exciting places, people and events we have on our Summer holiday itinerary.
1. Take lots of walks. Walk along the seashore by yourself and look at the way sunlight is reflected on the water. Walk across lush green fields down to a river, stroll up an avenue of trees planted hundreds of years ago or hike up a hill. Take a walk on the wild side in the big city – admire the skyscrapers towering above you. Walk through a gallery of classic portraits and imagine what the lives of the people was really like. Think about the things you love the most in your life; be happy. Didier recently told me that the last time he remembers being totally relaxed was on a picnic in a field next to a vineyard in the Luberon last summer holidays.
2. Try to use new words and expand your vocabulary: the more things you manage to say, the more things you’ll manage to think; and the more things you think, the freer you’ll be. I’m expanding my French – with a lot of help from my multi-lingual kids!
3. Read as much as you possibly can, but not because you have to. Read to inspire adventures and dreams, when you read you’ll feel like swallows in flight. Read because it’s the best form of rebellion you have. We have taken to reading aloud together every night – a chapter from a classic novel shared, discussed and enjoyed.
4. Avoid things, situations and people who make you feel negative or empty: Turn off the electronics, seek out stimulating situations and the companionship of friends who enrich you, who understand you and appreciate you for who you are. Let your true friends, both old and new, know how much you cherish them – write them a letter, stick a stamp on it and mail it to them. Spend less time cultivating ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ on social media – those likes really don’t mean that much in the greater scheme of things. Put down the social media and practice being social. Host a tea party, dinner or just invite a bunch of friends over for a bottle of wine and a catch up. Weed your garden of friendship so the flowers can grow.
5. If you feel sad or afraid, don’t worry: summer, like every marvelous thing in life, can throw the soul into confusion. Keep a diary as a way to talk about how you feel; jot down a few lines every day and illustrate and doodle as you go. Turn the worries into fuel for creativity.
6. Dance, shamelessly. With others on a dance floor, in the rain or alone in your room. Summer is dance, and it’s foolish not to take part. Host a carpet disco. Turn up the music and let yourself go. Make a Summer 2015 playlist.
7. At least once, get up super early and watch the sunrise. Stay silent and breathe. Close your eyes, be thankful. Listen to the dawn chorus. A new day is always inspiring – use it for something good. And don’t forget to #JumpforJoy.
8. Play a lot of sports. Challenge yourself to take up a new sport then practice practice practice. I’m working on my basketball shots ready for next season… Remy is into dolphin races in the pool.
9. If you meet someone you find enchanting, tell him or her as sincerely and gracefully as you can. It doesn’t matter if she or he doesn’t understand. If they don’t, she or he wasn’t meant to be; otherwise, summer 2015 will be a golden time together (if this doesn’t work out, go back to point number 8 or point number 5).
10. Review what you have learned this past year: Compare the things you have read and learned to the things that happen to you. Soak up knowledge like a sponge and feed your brain. Read lots of poetry – Yeats, Frost, Wordsworth, Larkin and Shakespeare and inspire your inner poet.
11. Be as happy as sunlight, as untamable as the sea. Paint a picture, knit a bag, create a collage, do a pencil sketch of a still life, paint an inspirational wall mural, sew up some bunting or learn watercolors.
12. Don’t swear. Always be well-mannered and kind. Kindness to yourself and others is key. Cook up a new recipe, roll up the carpets and create a magical picnic outside as the sun goes down or place tables end to end and invite friends over to celebrate an anniversary. Break bread, eat caviar, sip ice cold bubbles, make speeches and laugh long and hard about the silliest of things. #LeanLuxury
13. Watch films with heartbreaking dialogue (in English, Japanese and French if you can), in order to improve your language skills and your ability to dream. Watch movies from 100 years ago,explore a whole different era. Watch movies that move you to tears. Don’t let the movie end with the final credits: live it again while you’re living and experiencing your summer. First up Dead Poet’s Society and then Mississippi Mermaid in French and then perhaps Brief Encounter and Stealing Beauty and Napoleon.
14. In sparkling sunlight or hot summer nights, dream about how your life could and should be. During the summer, always do everything you can to avoid giving up, and everything you can to pursue your dream. If it’s not as perfect as you imagined or something pops unexpectedly to spoil your fun remember to forget your perfect offering… it’s how the light gets in: