Summer 2015: The Summer of Goals and Firsts

At the beginning of the summer, I set a list of goals for myself. I knew this summer would be different than most as I would not be nannying so I knew that I would need to be thoughtful and intentional with my time. I will be honest, at the beginning, too much time was difficult for me. I like to be busy and I like to be productive so it was difficult to feel out of my norm. However, this was a very restful summer filled with reading for fun, visiting with friends (old and new), plenty of delicious coffee, and time to be still!

Original Goal List:


Here’s how I did on my goals:



My goal this summer was to read a book a week; so often during the school year, I am so tired at the end of the day that I cannot keep up with my reading as much as I would like. I have learned that reading is my escape; reading is my way to refresh and recharge myself. I need to read consistently to flourish and to be myself.  I read some great and different books this summer.


Books read: Rena’s Promise, Let Justice Roll Down, Stone Angel, Cutting for Stone, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, Go Set A Watchman, Mosquitoland, Traveling Mercies, By the River Piedra I Wept, All My Puny Sorrows, Me Before You, Prudence, Yellow Crocus, The Weight of Water, The Mapmaker’s Children, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Silver Star, WitnessThe Reason for God, Girl at War, and Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl.

A few, quick thoughts on these books:

Rena’s Promise – a challenging but important read as it highlights the story of two Jewish sisters who survive the Holocaust.

Let Justice Roll Down – I had a chance to hear John Perkins speak just a few weeks before the summer began and knew I wanted to read his story; he is passionate about social justice and equality for all and I found this an interesting perspective on his own experiences.

Stone Angel – though a Canadian classic, I had never read it. I thought it was a beautiful, raw, and honest reflection of life, death, love, and pride… definitely worth reading.

“‘Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear. I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains within me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched. Oh, my two, my dead. Dead by your own hands or by mine? Nothing can take away those years” 

Cutting For Stone – interesting! A very different story than one I’ve ever read. I appreciated the integration of science and history into this fictional story. Powerful read.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James – a lovely story; a beautiful tale of friendship, love, and loss along the way. I couldn’t put it down and purchased a copy to keep.

Go Set a Watchman – so many thoughts; this may be a blog post all by itself! Definitely worth the read.

Mosquitoland – a sweet story of a young girl’s journey and the friends she makes along the way.

Traveling Mercies – honest; raw; powerful; needed.

By the River Piedra I Wept – bizarre; too new-agey for me. I didn’t get it.

All my Puny Sorrows – so beautiful and tragic and lovely all at once; a Canadian author I had never heard of before but I will definitely be picking up more of her books. The complicated journey of suicide and all those this struggle impacts. So, so beautiful.

“It was the first time that we had sort of articulated our major problem. She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other.”

“… I will bow down before her suffering with compassion.”

Me Before You – a surprisingly enjoyable read! I am not one for love stories but this one really swept me away and I will definitely go see the movie when it comes out.

Prudence – bizarre; not recommended. Had a lot of potential but missed the mark.

Yellow Crocus – an interesting story of the complex relationship between a slave milk made and the baby she raises.

The Weight of Water – I love free verse and tales of coming of age. Lovely.

The Mapmakers Children – an interesting look at the Underground Railroad.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – no no no. If I didn’t have the need to finish any book I start, I would have stopped halfway through. Waste of my time.

The Silver Star – love the author and love the story.

Witness – once again, free verse is a powerful story-telling agent. This tells an interesting story of the complications of racism and prejudice in a small town.

The Reason for God – my first Timothy Keller read; I appreciated what he had to say, though it was a bit “heady” for me at times. Worth the read and a good conversation starter.

Girl at War – a powerful look into the Bosnian genocide.

Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl – quirky, different, I liked it. More my style than The Fault In Their Stars.

Eat Better:

Meh. Not so successful.

More Activity: yes! See 10K and soccer below!

Teacher Certification:

Well, let me tell you, becoming certified in a whole new state is a lot more work (and money!!) than I had expected. After forking out a bunch of money to register, apply, and send in all the necessary paperwork, I needed to take 9 exams! Unfortunately, I did not know how difficult it was to book these exams. But, I successfully completed seven of my nine exams this summer (even the math exam – woowoo!) and will finish my final two in September. 7/9ths certified! I’ll take that as a win. Perhaps the funniest moment of this whole certification journey – the test I was most nervous about  (math) was my top score!

Relax and Be Still:

Yes. Absolutely. It was lovely.IMG_0002

Here are some of my firsts that I enjoyed:

First time at Empire Coffee:

Last summer, I ventured to discover as many new coffee shops as possible. This summer, I wanted to find a coffee shop that was quaint and felt like home. I was successful and found a coffee shop that is sister-run (how awesome is that?), is bright, fresh, lovely, and feels very much like home. Enter “Empire Coffee and Pastry“. It is really lovely and you should definitely check out this Northeast gem.

IMG_0653 IMG_0837

First 10K:

I am not sure if enjoyed is the right word but I am really glad I stuck with it and completed this race! I am not much of a runner but wanted to challenge myself and my body. For my first run – my goal was to run the whole thing and to finish! Success on both counts. I ran the 10K in 1 hour and 3 minutes and I am very proud of that!


First Adult Soccer Team:

I haven’t played soccer since high school but I have been wanting to play ever since I moved to MPLS. Easier said than done. Finding a league, much less the courage to try to start a team meant 6 years with no soccer. This summer, with the help of some pushy encouragement from others, I successfully created a soccer team and entered us into the recreational summer league. This was so much more enjoyable than I expected. It was QUITE the workout and a definite reminder of my age but it was so great to be a part of a team again and be active while in community!


First Trip to NYC:


So much to see; so many people! Beautiful city with so much diversity to be celebrated; food… art… fashion… music… Cannot wait to go back!

IMG_0948  IMG_0965 IMG_1025 IMG_1126 (1)

Summer 2015, it’s been real. Sad to see you go. Excited for what is next!


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