Pondering on the Days of my Youth

While my childhood, for the most part, is a bit of a blur to me, there are a few things I do remember rather fondly from the days of my youth.

I was not particularly graced with an abundance of toys, and therefore, the ones that I had become all the more special to me. There was one very treasured toy in my somewhat small collection. My beloved Mrs. Beasley Doll. I vaguely remember for years, how I carried this doll around with me and showered her with the most adoring love and affection a child can bestow on one’s most treasured toy. Aside from my beloved doll, I can remember distinctly how from a very young age until well throughout my teenage years, my next greatest love was my radio. Whether it be a small portable cassette recorder, to a small pre- “boombox” era radio. I can still remember the day I finally got my very first Sony Walkman! Boy, did I sure think I was somebody then. I had been blessed with the ability to have portable music pretty much throughout my youth, but now, with the tiny little speaker that fit just over my ears, my music was more private, it was mine, and I did not have to share it with anyone. I am not entirely sure why the idea of having my music all to myself was so appealing to me. Given that today, as an adult, I love to play songs for other people, and I enjoy sharing songs that mean a great deal to me with people that I am closest to. I suppose, in retrospect, during my childhood, there were a lot of things that were out of control and far beyond my scope of comfort, and when I could put on my personal speakers and control the music that only I listened to, it was a form of escape. Ironically, music has long been a form of escape for many people, and I am among those plenty.

I did not have the luxury of having a large group of people in my life throughout my childhood. My family was very reserved and kept a pretty tight circle. Growing up as a child, I only had a handful of cousins, and only three of them were even within my close proximity. The other family members were only present in my life once a year, during Thanksgiving, and then there was one family that I saw sporadically throughout the year, but we were never close. One of my cousins that did live next door to me became my best friend. He was a second or third cousin; we never did actually figure that out. However, it did not matter. He became closer to me than I was with my first cousins or even my brother. We went through a period, as young teenagers, in which we wanted to escape our lives. We had a lot of things in which we wanted to run away from. But we were too young and far too scared to even try running away. So, we created these imaginary fantasy lives for ourselves. I had always dreamed of being a drummer in a rock band and he loved the guitar. With a badminton racket and a few sticks carefully selected and snapped off an unsuspecting tree, we would fire up some music, normally on the portable radio outside, and instantaneously become the heroes in our own little world of rock and roll. Music videos came on the television on weekend nights late into the night. Even though, I knew we would both risk getting into more trouble than we ever wanted, I would let him slip in the front door after midnight on the weekends, and we would sit quietly in the living room, watching videos, and dreaming of one day escaping the world in which we knew and becoming famous in our own rock band. Aside from music, we actually created our own pretend identities. Looking back now, it is really funny and really sad at just how much we craved to be someone else to the extent that we began to really take on the personas of our make-believe personalities. Our alter egos even evolved with us as we grew up as teenagers. We created the identities in our youth, and as we became older teenagers, we changed our characters names and personalities to adjust to our newfound lives from childhood to teenager. The saddest part of it all, looking back, is that my alter ego was always a boy. Things had happened to me that I felt like if I had been a boy would not have happened. My pretend persona was a boy because I despised how being a girl made me feel weak.

As a child, I remember developing a strong love for reading. I suppose it was yet another means of escaping reality. I could sit for hours and read about anything or anyone. I still remember one of my most favorite books of all that I read at about the time of transitioning from a child into a teenager. I cannot remember my exact age, but I remember I was young, but still old enough to comprehend reading a young adult fiction. The book was titled, The Summer of the Sky Blue Bikini. I have long since looked for that book in my adult years, as I would love to sit and re-read one of my most favored reads every. But, alas, I have yet to find it. We had a small creek that was behind my house, it was just a small hike through some deep woods, but definitely worth the trek down to it. There was this bend in the creek that had this huge rock tucked in the curve that made a perfect place to sit and watch the water streaming by. It was deep enough in the woods that there was such a sense of peace and solace, yet it was close enough to the house that my parents never concerned with us being down there for hours on end. I would often take me a treasured book down to the creek and assemble myself comfortably on the rock in the bend. I would take in the serenity of my surroundings. The ferns, the moss, and the babbling of the water racing past me. Then, I would sink into my treasured book. During my teenaged years, it was mostly a Stephen King masterpiece. I would sit and read until the light of the sun was getting just about too dark to see to get home. Then, I would reluctantly make my way back out of the woods and back to reality.

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A Story of the Undone Summer Bucket List.

This past spring, as the days became just a little bit longer, and the temperatures became just a little bit warmer, I sat down to gleefully write out my Summer Bucket List. Little did I know at that time, that before Summer’s end, my life would be taking a drastic shift. I still have things left on my bucket list that I haven’t had the opportunity to complete! Now, I am faced with the daunting dilemma of how to accomplish some of the most desired items on my summer bucket list.

When my husband and I made the move to South Florida last year, it turned out to be quite a difficult transition, teetering on the brink of down right depressive. Being so far away from our family and friends, combined with the cost of living being substantially higher than where we came from and employment pay scales not faring comparable to those increased costs of living, it was a rather challenging adjustment. Yet, we were determined to make this work, and believed we could enjoy Florida and all it has to offer for as long as we were living here. I did some research on the area we live in and the surrounding are and compiled a beautifully constructed bucket list of things to do, see, and experience this summer. Being our first summer to live here in South Florida, we were determined to make it a most memorable one. One of the first things we learned was that a summer in South Florida is not that easy to get out and enjoy. Between the sweltering heat and humidity, the continual barrage of daily thunderstorms with their intense lightning make any outdoor activity a battle. We have visited New Orleans in August before and were somewhat familiar with the humidity and heat of the Gulf of Mexico. However, visiting for a few days does little to prepare you for enduring those unfamiliar conditions as part of your daily life.

We recently made a trip up to visit our family back home in North Georgia. While there, everyone made it abundantly clear that they wanted us to move back home. We miss them dearly. Given the fact that we have no family or friends in Florida, and the increased cost of living with decrease in earned wages, we expressed a desire to come back home as well. It just wasn’t in the cards at the moment. During our trip back down to Florida, we talked of little else than how much we enjoyed seeing the family and wish we could be closer to them. The drive is ten hours. While that may be closer than many people who relocate here are from their family, it was still a bit far for our peace of mind. A few days after arriving back in Florida, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity. One that would put us back in North Georgia close to our family and provide an opportunity to save money for a home. Without hesitation, we accepted the offer.

The reality of leaving Florida washed over me in a bittersweet flood of emotion. I miss my family and truly wish to be close to them, but I had come to really love Florida, and still had plenty of things on my bucket list yet not done. That being said, there are still a lot of things unchecked, not only on my summer bucket list, but also my whole Southwest Florida wish list. I still have not had the opportunity to dip my feet in the majestic waters of Islamorada, or eat authentic Key Lime Pie in Key West, or visit the Naples Zoo, or tour the infamous gardens along the river at the Edison Estate, or drive up and see Clearwater Beach, the current number one voted beach in the nation. As my time here in the Sunshine State draws closer to an end, I will attempt to complete as many of those as I can. However, the problem with many of them is that, given the cost of living, I have been unable to collect the spare funds needed to accomplish them, and I do not see that condition changing in the time I have left here. Although, I will be here through summer, and I have the utmost intention on stealing away every possible moment I can to enjoy an ice cream and watch the sunset at the beach, and I will enjoy the resort style pool located at my apartment complex, and I will take hundreds of pictures every where I go. Yes, I will savor these final moments and I will forever hold this place and this time in my heart and my memory in the most beloved of regards.

Boost Your SUMMER, BUCKET LIST With These Tips

Ah, summer, it’s that magical time when we all get to revert back to our childhood and enjoy the things that make us feel free and young. Whether you are hitting the road to take on those great summer adventures, or having a fun-filled summer staycation right in your own town, there are endless possibilities to create your own perfect summer bucket list. I am going to break down the top favorite activities to add to any summer bucket list and make the most memorable summer ever!

If, however, you are having trouble coming up with specific ideas to try out this summer, aside from many online websites, there are books that are targeted toward providing many great summer bucket list ideas, whether you are looking for ideas to keep the kids occupied or looking for some special ideas for a date night or weekend getaway for two.

Among the more famed summer fun things to do, going to the beach is a must for many. To plan for a fun and event free day at the beach, some necessities that you should pack for the day, in addition to snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated, include, a good cooler, some trendy beach towels, sand toys for the kiddos, and even consider a beach tent for when you need to take a break from the sun, or take a nice shaded afternoon nap to the sound of the waves crashing.

Find shelter from the sun with a pop-up Beach Tent

Campout! No matter if you are gearing up to hit up the local state park for a weekend adventure full of fishing and hiking, or throwing up the tent in the back yard for a night of marshmallow roasting and ghost stories, good camping gear is an essential. From the tent to the backpack, to proper hiking shoes, things can go awry when you have worn out or poor quality camping gear that leaks or breaks apart on you during your camping trip. And, don’t forget to take the Kindle with you to enjoy some leisurely reading while you are catching those rays!

Great camping adventures start with a great tent!

What would summer be without ice cream? While is may be convenient to pile the family in the car and drive down to your local ice cream shop, or grab that coveted ice cream out on the beach, you may find it a more fun family event to churn your own ice cream with a personal ice cream maker. Imagine the anticipation as the motor churns away and the end result is your very own creation of frozen summer goodness? Another benefit of making your own ice cream is the ability to mix and match ingredients and create a bowl of ice cream that suits everyone’s tastes, and will likely last beyond one single serving!

Make your own summer treats with an Ice Cream Maker!

Swimming is the ultimate go-to sport of summer. So, whether you are heading off for a day at the beach or lounging at the local pool, you need to make sure you have the essential products on hand. First, and foremost, is a good quality sunscreen– the SPF factor will be dependent on the individual. If you are looking to get a little tanned for the day, then you would obviously go a little lighter on the SPF that what you would want to lather on your delicate skinned toddler. Pool toys and goggles are also necessities when it comes to taking children to the water. Additionally, don’t forger to pack plenty of snack and waters to beat the heat and replenish all those calories burned up making a splash.

Don’t forget to pack all your swimming necessities for the pool!

Have a BBQ and eat outside. One of the things that people enjoy most about the summer months is the chance to get to enjoy their meals outdoors. Be it, dining on your own back deck with the family and a lovely meal you prepared in your own kitchen, a nice little spot at the park starring a blanket and a basket, grilling a burger and hot dog at the campsite, or perhaps setting up a portable grill for a little tailgating before the ball game. Any time is a good time to enjoy a nice meal outdoors during the summer, just don’t forget the bug guard, especially if you live in the south!

For dinner on the go, a portable grill is a no-brainer!

Go on an epic date! No matter if you are enjoying a nice meal outdoors while gazing up at the stars, or being entertained by a concert in the park, having a good blanket that the two of you can snuggle up on and enjoy the fresh air and atmosphere is a must. Or, if you are feeling more adventurous, jump in the car and venture off on a road trip. Summer is a great time for taking road trips, being that you don’t likely have to worry about snow or iced over roads, and there is a great opportunity to get out and really sight see. Roll the window down, turn up the radio, and just let your sense of adventure lead you off into uncharted territory. Of course, epic dates do not always have to be just the two of you. You can have a great family date night by enjoying the fun and laughter of family game nights or even plan a couples’ date night and play games with your couple friends.

Enjoy those concerts in t he park with an outdoor blanket!

There really is no end to the amount of fun you and your family can have this summer. So, take these ideas, expand on them, and create your very own summer bucket list. You are only limited by your imagination! Okay, perhaps, your budget as well. But you can find many a great adventure awaits you within your own budget and available time. Now, get creative, and get out and start enjoying this summer!

Affiliate Disclosure Statement- This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you.) Thank you for your support in this way.

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