Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
May 24, 2011 1:21 PM   Subscribe

How to make myself GREAT in 6 weeks?

Each summer the kids and I take a summer trip to Pennsylvania to visit with my family and so that the kids can actually play all day long outside - how summers should be!

My husband will be joining us the last week of the trip. I want to be absolutely fantastic by the time he sees me again. I want to look great and I want to be interesting and just awesome. Mysterious would be cool too. How do I pull this off?

To consider:

1. I'd like to lose 10 pounds. How do I do this? I need specifics. I need a plan down to the detail on how to do this and not talk myself into eating all the garbage I usually eat. I enjoy running, so I'll keep that up while I'm in PA.

2. I have 100 + acres at my disposal, most of which is wooded. It also contains three very small ponds and a small "river." Lots of bears too! I also have access to a lake that is about 3 miles around, with a path that goes around it.

3. I have three children. I still need to take care of them.

4. We will be in the middle of nowhere. Closest store/town is about 20 minutes away. Venturing out isn't always feasible.

5. I really like to eat my mom's homecooking. I can easily at the drop of a hat talk myself into eating anything (and then regretting it terribly as soon as I finish it).

6. Said lake is part of a fancy association with accompanied fancy parties. I'm an introvert and I typically despise these get-togethers, but I was thinking that maybe it would be a good place to help me be more interesting. I'm a wallflower at these things. Although I grew up with most of the people there, I'm pretty sure that none of them know who I am (or have forgotten).

7. I don't just want to look fantastic, but I want to be interesting too. How?

What else can I do in 6-7 weeks that would make me a better person, someone my husband would be really interested and excited to be with? Not only that, but someone I'm excited to be?
posted by Sassyfras to Human Relations (53 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Well you can lose ten pounds in six weeks if you cut out all sugar, alcohol, and starches. Including fruit and potatoes.

But I think your husband already KNOWS you're awesome-- otherwise he wouldn't have married you! Just let YOURSELF realize how incredibly awesome you are, and give yourself a lot of credit and kudos for all that your already are. If nothing else, a head held high and an accurate sense of self worth, are very sexy and awesome things.
posted by np312 at 1:26 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Nthing that you already are.

But, six weeks is plenty of time to get most of the way through Couch to 5k. I don't know how old your kids are, but maybe they'd like to do it with you. It's a good way to become a runner, slowly.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:30 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: Build a treehouse, or a fort or hut or something. Maybe you and he can stay there by yourselves the first night he's there.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

I enjoy running, so I'll keep that up while I'm in PA.

(She's already a runner.)

I can't tell if what you want is to break out of some bad habits you've had before at your mom's--like eating too much of her fantastic food--or if you're looking for a renewal/makeover experience.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:34 PM on May 24, 2011

I suggest lifting weights or doing other strength building exercises. Good posture, good core strength, these things will make you look more confident and sexy, whatever your size.

(As will a nice new bra that fits perfectly.)

In my experience, dieting (especially when you know you're not great at sticking to a particular diet) is a recipe for obsessing about food without actually modifying your eating habits, which is unhealthy and often counter-productive.

Obsessing about food tends to make people boring, not interesting and awesome. Rethink that particular point in your plan.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:40 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Maybe it's a good time to do groom-y type things like regular manicures, pedicures, trying new skin treatments, etc? Bring supplies with you like a good manicure pedicure kit and some luxe skincare products; tell your mom you'll pass on the dessert but could you use some of that honey and egg for a hair mask? I find that indulging myself in this way is fun, makes me feel more beautiful and glowy from the inside out - plus these are things I wouldn't necessarily want to indulge in in front of a partner!
posted by ladybird at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: bluedaisy - I guess I'm really looking for a renewal experience - with part of that being the experience of losing those 10 pounds, but I don't want that to be the only focus, just part of a whole. I'm a pretty boring person and I want to be filled with life and be an interesting person in general. I want to look good and feel good and be interesting. I want to be confident.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:42 PM on May 24, 2011

Another couple of ideas on the "be more interesting" front, though you already sound like a lovely and engaging person: maybe start learning a new language via internet or DVD? Or start making your way through a "Top 100 best books of ALL TIME" list (I did both of these things during a summer I was stuck out in the country against my will, and enjoyed the experience.) I don't necessarily think that foreign languages or new books make you more interesting per se, but having some new knowledge under you belt might help you feel more confident.
posted by ladybird at 1:47 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Recruit your mother to help. On the weight loss, social support is crucial. Explain that you love her cooking and you look forward to eating it, but you are making healthy eating a priority and you need her help. She can support you by (gently) reminding you of your goal and giving you positive feedback. More directly, you can ask that she try to cook especially healthily. If practical, also ask others to watch the kids so you have time to exercise, in addition to working it into the time you spend with the kids.

To be "filled with life," read more, if you don't already read a lot, and if you do read, try reading something different. That can be self-help type books, but I think you'd be better off just good books that will engage and educate you. One possible place to start is the NY Times annual list of 100 notable books.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:49 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: MrMoonPie's answer gave me some ideas.

Can you take, say, two hours to yourself at the same time every day? Or maybe in one hour increments? Like, can you get up early and leave the house while your kids wake up and get breakfast with your mom?

I think what you what is a fitness bootcamp. Maybe you could find a good personal trainer in the nearby town (set this up in advance) and have a once a week in-person check-in and a check in by phone once or twice during the week (if that would help you stay on track).

If you want to do this on your own: search online for some great routines and see if you can set a course through the 100-acres. Have it be 2-3 miles long. When you want to take a breather, stop and do some push-ups. Then sprint for a bit. Then jump over a log. Something like that. The idea here is to crank up your calorie burn. Or get some small weights and leave them outside.

The key is calorie burning and routine.

As for food: I suspect you might need to recruit your mom's help on this one. It's really hard to change habits, but it might be easier if, for example, she keeps the cookies in a cabinet instead of on the counter.

Also, have lots of healthy foods around and perhaps commit to trying a new fruit every week. And make locally available, seasonal food the focus of your nutrition, if you can.

Do set up an activity and calorie tracker (live through livestrong) or write it all down in a notebook. If you really increase your activities, and watch your consumption of bad foods, I bet you'll find yourself with an improved mood and body.

It's great if you can do this with a friend. Could you enlist your mom to find out if there's someone around who could be your fitness partner this summer?

I also think a great thing to do is really play with the kids outside. Built a fort, as was suggested above, or create a kids' obstacle course in the woods. Build something, or create something. I always have a great time playing in creeks with my kids. We spent hours trying to change the way the water flows (we always fail!).

As for the personality part: wow, I'm really sad to hear your describe yourself as boring. I bet your kids think you're awesome. And your mom and husband too. I don't think there's really such a thing as a boring person.

What are your passions? Or, what were they before kids? Is there any way to explore any of this here? Could you finally read a few books? Try some new sports? The advice for couples who are bored with each other is to try new things together. I wonder if you could try new things just for yourself.

So... on a related note: I'm going to a woodsy place for four weeks in a row this summer. I'm planning to exercise every day. Well, let's say 5/7 days. If you want to set up an accountability trade with regular phone calls with another mom (even if our weeks don't overlap), send me a note. I'll be glad to be the supportive bully for you if you do the same for me! (There are also online groups where you can do this.)

Good luck. I'm like some self-acceptance would also be a really good thing for you!
posted by bluedaisy at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Drink lots of water. Eat lots of veggies and don't eat so many pre-processed foods. Get daily exercise. Play. Read. Learn to play an instrument. Start learning a new language. Find a hobby you enjoy. Learn new things! Go outside as often as possible. Try yoga. Get up with the sun. Take naps. Draw. Smile. Laugh.

For feeling more interesting and losing weight, I really found this web comic to be an inspiring story to read. Start at the beginning to follow her journey.

It looks like the Ultimate Simple Living Guide I have bookmarked is no longer a viable link, but the Wayback machine has a copy of it.
posted by jillithd at 1:56 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: +1 to doublehappy's comment.

Tell mom that you want to lose 10 lbs., and consider the No-S diet. (It's free.) In addition to your running, look into whether you can swim in those lakes, and get in lots of swimming time if you can. (Running from bears will definitely burn off calories, and give you interesting tales to tell, but I can't recommend anything that extreme, at least not this summer.)

Get back in touch with an old childhood friend and plan to reconnect. See if your friend will go with you to those fancy parties and find other old friends, and catch up.
posted by Hylas at 2:05 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

This question smacks of territory that makes me uncomfortable. The idea that you can become a better, more interesting person who is more valuable to your partner by losing 10lbs is women's magazine territory.

If you want to become more interesting, cultivate interests and opinions. If you want to become more interesting to your partner, it is helpful if you cultivate some shared interests. If you are looking to engage in conversation with your partner that isn't about lawn mowing and kids, ask him things about himself you don't know. Be interested to be interesting.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2011 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Keep a journal. Do yoga outside everyday. Take up meditation. Sketch, or learn another craft from a book.
posted by DizzyLeaf at 2:13 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gigantic +1 for DarlingBri ... and so as not to be unhelpful, perhaps you can use the time to learn some new and healthy recipes that you and Mom can cook together.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:13 PM on May 24, 2011

Response by poster: For the record, losing the 10 lbs is not the only thing I want to do and I am NOT defining my interesting-ness based on my weight, but I would like to lose that 10 lbs within the next little while. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

(And FWIW, my mother is a health nut and makes delicious healthy meals that unfortunately I eat way too much of because it tastes so darn good. I guess it could be worse - her making really unhealthy crap that I eat too much of)

While I encourage tips on losing that weight, I'm also very interested in things that would make me more interesting. Because seriously, I am boring and I'm not being hard on myself or have low self-esteem, it's just that I'm boring and quiet and introverted.

Maybe interesting is the wrong word. Perhaps engaging?
posted by Sassyfras at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Memorize a poem a day, keep a journal, read To the Lighthouse and Light in August, go running at dawn, write about it, write an imaginative story featuring each of your three children, experiment with using all natural beauty products or better yet- homemade items, perfect a chocolate cake recipe, buy several different bottles of the same wine and compare and record your findings, get the Audubon book and learn about birds, read international newspapers, write weekly letters to your husband-- actual letters, make a soundtrack to your summer and listen to it as you run.
posted by cymru_j at 2:29 PM on May 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

Will you even have internet access out there in the woods? How much do you know about the local ecology? Have you ever done any birdwatching? Some kids really get into it and it helps them learn to be still, quiet, observant. Do you know much about all of the local trees? I love the tree fort idea too and daily yoga. I have three kids too, they're all grown now, but I remember at times wondering who the hell I was when they were young.

Do you have a tent and other camping gear? Can you set up a good camping site in the woods instead of staying in the house? Build a simple platform to put the tent on, makes it easier to stay dry.
posted by mareli at 2:31 PM on May 24, 2011

Walk around the lake every morning, and go exploring in the woods with your children.

Learn new things, stay away from the TV and the Internet (unless you are doing something constructive, like building a website or creating a map, while online). If you personally find fancy parties enjoyable and interesting, go have a blast. But if you don't particularly enjoy them, go do other things that are enjoyable. Read, learn something you have been interested in learning. Don't worry about your husband's interests. He's interested in you, so (ahem) work on being yourself *for* yourself as best you can.

There is a super-simple (and true) rule of thumb to being interesting: have interests.
posted by aniola at 2:39 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Building a treehouse will give you a hell of an interesting story to tell, will include the kids, will help you lose weight, and will teach you all sorts of skills, from forestry to carpentry to effective hardware-shopping. You'll get sunburn and callouses and myriad scratches on your legs.

OK, so maybe not a treehouse. But a big rope swing or zipline or play structure or something along those lines. I like mareli's camping idea--maybe a whole campsite, with a fire pit and cooking tripod and camp stools you make yourself with only a hatchet and rope. That'd be badass.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:52 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

The only thing I can think of that would genuinely make someone more interesting to me is volunteer work. Can you volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter for two hours a day? Can you become CPR certified and be a volunteer firefighter? Can you deliver meals on wheels for 6 weeks? Can you plan and execute a fundraising event? THAT would be interesting.
posted by bq at 2:54 PM on May 24, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, I promise to stop thread-sitting after this. But, MrMoonPie has it . . . I wanna be badass. How do I become badass in 6 weeks? Let's change interesting/engaging to badass.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:58 PM on May 24, 2011

I like the birdwatching idea, or you could do it with plant identification instead. Top 100 lists of books/films also seem quite good as conversation starters. Pick up a hobby (knitting, sewing, etc. Or something obscure, like archery). Seconding volunteering as well!

For what it's worth, I also often feel quiet, boring and introverted. When I tell my partner this, he always tells me I'm the most interesting person he knows, which still surprises me sometimes. I'm guessing your husband feels the same way about you.
posted by bibliophibianj at 3:01 PM on May 24, 2011

1) Find bear tracks.
2) Track bear to lair.
3) Set up video camera.
4) Wrestle bear!

Or just spend a lot of time in the woods. Practice being still. Practice listening. Practice watching things with your peripheral vision. Practice hearing things without turning your head. Practice awareness.

Don't try to change who you are. Get the most out of it!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:03 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: From Ms. Vegetable:

Oh, this is an interesting question. I'm going to throw some things out there on "how to become a badass". They may or may not be to your taste, so pick and choose or not as needed:

- Get a punk haircut with a streak of bright color. It's only hair.
- Get a nose ring. (It can be fake, but leave it in the whole time you're gone.)
- Learn to tie LOTS of knots.
- Stand up straight, look somebody in the eye, and generally be intimidating when you talk to them.
- Learn to box.
- Do pushups. And pullups.
- Learn to ride a motorcycle.
- Build some furniture, like a table and bench.
- Fix all the broken stuff in the house. WIthout professional help.
- Take CPR class.
- Become a volunteer firefighter.

Ok, I'm done now. Have fun!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Some great suggestions above...

Sometimes the people who are described as the most engaging or best to talk to aren't those that monopolise the conversation and tell you all the "interesting" things they've been doing, they're the ones who are good listeners. So practice your listening skills! Use the time to find out more about your folks - get them to tell you stories about their childhood / life generally.

And go to those parties - don't feel that you need to be the centre of attention, just find the people who are looking a bit shy themselves, the ones on the fringes of conversations, and engage them in conversation - find out about them. They will appreciate the fact that someone wants to get to know them, and you'll quickly get a reputation as a great person to invite to parties because you get along with everyone, and everyone loves talking to you.

Think about everything that happens during your day and imagine turning it into a "story" - most people considered interesting don't have particularly interesting lives, it's all about how they tell the story... Practice!

Get a new haircut / colour - try something different. And don't tell your husband you're doing it so he's surprised when he sees you!

Okay, none of this might seem particularly badass, but that's all in the attitude! Or possibly the haircut... ;-)

Most importantly, enjoy your break - if you've had a fun and relaxing holiday, that alone will make you look great!
posted by finding.perdita at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Have you heard of the Warrior Dash? There's one in PA in mid-June, which might be too soon, but maybe there are others later on wherever your home is? I would think training for one of these (or some other event) would be a good motivator. And how could you not feel like a bad ass after scaling small walls and dragging yourself through mud?

"I'm training for the Warrior Dash" would be the opposite of a boring thing to say.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:48 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can understand how fun it is to challenge yourself, but I want to throw this out there: Be kind to yourself and be on your own side.

What's already badass about you? Do more of that. What makes you feel good about yourself? Do more of that. I'm sure he just wants you to be happy and lighthearted and fun to be around. Most people don't care if you're "interesting" on paper (like this annoying old coworker who was obsessed with rowing and thought being a rower made her interesting, when she was a chore to be around because she wouldn't shut up and had a snobby personality), but they respect people and want to be around people who feel good to be around and the people who feel good to be around are the ones who feel good about themselves).

I bet you're already awesome. Most people tolerate people who don't feel good about themselves and beat themselves up, but don't actively seek out their company. The best strategy is that you spent time with yourself and figure out what makes you happy, and I'm pretty certain it will be a huge benefit to not only your husband, but also your kids.

(I'm so very relieved that this question did not turn into another "give him a blowjob" and "nthing blowjob" type of thread.)
posted by anniecat at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Are the kids old enough to play tag with you? I always wanted my mom to play running games with me, but she was a little older when she had me. And my dad was even older. I really longed to have them play with me instead of just being my parents. Maybe if your kids are old enough, you can spend your vacation running around with them. You and your husband.
posted by anniecat at 4:25 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Understand that you are GREAT the way you are right now. Let things go from there.
posted by odeon at 4:49 PM on May 24, 2011

I dunno about badass, but I recommend working through The Artist's Way to become both more interesting and more confident. And grounded. Highly recommend. In fact, maybe I'll start it again tomorrow...
posted by instamatic at 5:32 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I just finished 12 week challenge at my Y that was all about losing bodyfat, not just losing weight. This meant that we all - eight of us women - are significantly more badass than when we started. We added muscle (muscle speeds your metabolism up!) as well as losing fat, and it feels Great.

So if I were you I'd plan to do a bootcamp-like program over the 10 weeks. Try to eat Extra healthy, but don't cut way back on the food - just try to hike and exercise and run and climb trees with your kids. Do bodyweight exercises - maybe look at the 100 pushups program online, try to do a pullup (or several by the time you're done if you're Especially kickass). Look online for more bootcamp-type functional training and bodyweight exercises so that you can be totally kickass by the time you're done. You will not bulk up at all, you'll just end up toned and able to do more and awesome!
posted by ldthomps at 5:51 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Every week, pick something that you have always wanted to try but were too scared to. Getting out of your comfort zone and succeeding at a few of these things will give you a new-found confidence in yourself and will invigorate your view of the world. This change inside will render an outward change that your husband will notice.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:56 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Being a badass is a bit about the confidence, I think.

Do something everyday that scares you (or intimidates you). Take a walk in the woods at night. Climb a tree. Forage for food. Meet a local bee keeper and help tend a hive. Or do something new everyday and punctuate the newness with some intimidation.

Do something everyday that you love. Meditate. Run. Look at the stars. Catch fireflies. Howl at the moon. Wake up early. Stay up late. Whatever it is.

Be where you are. So you're in the country (I happen to love the country) -- be in the country. Don't wish away the days. Engage with the immediate world around you. Look for local events if you want to be social. The same is true for your badassedness -- some days you've got a lot to give and some days eh, you'd rather be less of a badass and more mellow -- that's cool too.

I'd also suggest that part of the key to "being interesting" is being interested. Is there something you want to know more about? Read up on it! Let your curiosity and your fascination lead you to things *you* are engaged in. Share those fascinations.
posted by countrymod at 6:06 PM on May 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

I'm kind of a badass, so I will throw some stuff out there:

High heels make me feel like a badass. They just have that CLICK, CLICK, BOOM thing. I wear them even when it's not exactly the right time to wear them, and I always wear them when it IS the right time to wear them. (like, out to dinner or to an event, sometimes during sexy time)

I go dancing, a LOT. It has helped me become so comfortable in my own skin, I now can easily dance all alone, when no one else is on the floor. Better though, is when my husband and I are the only ones on the floor. So, find some music you both like, and dance together. Have your Mom watch the kids and go into the nearest town and find a bar or whatever, and TAKE HIM OUT DANCING.

Have some strong opinions and get comfortable expressing yourself. To me, being wishy-washy is the exact opposite of badass.

Challenge your mind as to what does badass mean to you? I live in a place where it is unusual to wear high heels and make-up and to dance alone and to hold strong opinions that you can back up with when I do these things, I stick out like a sore thumb, and I LOVE IT.

How I choose to put myself together, and knowing what I'm talking about (usually), and having that thing I do with my husband that no one else can do with him, makes me a badass FOR ME.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:11 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, but something doesn't compute. You want to be badass around your parents in a rural setting? Not sure about your family, but this seems really hard. At least it would be for me to take up badassedness from scratch with my family in a rural setting.

That said, I vote for taking up motorcycle riding. You can get yourself a black leather jacket, some leather boots, maybe some leather chaps, a nice, small-ish used bike and a motorcycle safety class at the nearest big city. Black leather is not exactly great for summer in all climates, but if you're someplace with cool evenings, it could work.

When he arrives, hand him a helmet and take him for a spin.
posted by rw at 6:33 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: Before you leave, go to the library and check out some beginner's art books on sketching and watercolor. Stop by your local art supply store and stock up on paper, brushes, drawing pencils, erasers, and a set of watercolors.
posted by marsha56 at 6:37 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Learn to build a fire - bonus points for using only what you can find

Learn to cook over the fire you just made - bonus points for finding or growing your own food

Learn to shoot a gun - bonus points for taking a safety course

Learn to hunt - bonus points for eating what you kill

Finally - put them all together.

Get up early every day and write in a journal about these experiences.
posted by alfanut at 7:03 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nth that interested = interesting. Interested in people but also in topics or ideas. You have the time to explore your interests. I'd spend my rural evenings reading, be it nutrition and treehouse-building guides, futuristic fantasy, current political theorists, or whatever theme you're interested in now.
posted by salvia at 9:47 PM on May 24, 2011

get a fetching new haircut and colour, and don't be afraid of weird colours - go for a crazy punk colour if you think you can get away with it. Do a little reasearch to figure out what sort of shade would compliment your skin and eyes. A layered, slightly shaggy cut works well when you are outdoors a lot, it looks good even when windswept. Blondes and reds also really shine in the sun.

50 situps a day only takes a few minutes, but really helps with poise and posture.

scout out a bunch of interesting places in the woods around your place so you can take him there when he arrives

and I love the idea of building a treehouse or fort, knowing how to build stuff is definitely badass.

do you have access to a canoe or small sailboat? become a boating expert and take him for cruises - be sure to pack a champagne lunch
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:10 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: Get up really early and run every day. Do some birdwatching or photography or meditating before the rest of the household is up. Plan as many projects as you need to keep your body moving every day. Dig and plant a garden or build something that takes extensive physical effort, like that treehouse or a secret hide-out in the woods (perhaps include your kids in the planning and construction of this surprise). Then, when your husband comes, you can picnic there. Help your mom look for local farm fresh food. Focus on the veggies and on being really active rather than trying to lose weight.

Figure out the time of day you most appreciate some mental stimulation and watch some TED Talks or comb the MeFi archives for greatest posts ever which you never had time for at home. After a few of those, you'll have plenty of interesting things to think about so that when you reconnect with former pals and meet new people at those club parties, you'll feel very interested in the world, which is key. Take the time every day for a revolving list of beauty treatments. Let the grandparents give you some free time now and then for a trip to the hairdresser or day spa. Don't forget the moisturizer and the sun screen.

This sounds like a busy schedule but it is probably a different kind of busy for you. Your body will become more fit and you'll drop inches and, if you don't lose weight, it will be because you gained muscle and you'll be proud of it. You'll feel great. Do this for you. Do it to celebrate this summer because nobody will ever have exactly this summer again. You have so much to celebrate. I wish you the best summer you've ever had so far. You sound super awesome to me.
posted by Anitanola at 11:44 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ya know, sometimes badass is just a spin that you put on things. You can be a badass knitter, you can be a badass yoga-ist, you can be a badass birdwatcher. The thing that's attractive about badass is passion - you can knit a blanket or you can yarn-bomb something. You can do yoga or you can devote yourself to one particular flavor of yoga. You're a bird-watcher or you thoroughly study one particular species of bird and learn - and share - everything you find out.

I think the idea of building a treehouse is great. It's an excellent conversation topic for all those parties where you are usually a wallflower. When someone asks you what you're doing, you're building a tree house. And you're knitting wallpaper for it! Badassery, by its definition, gives you something to talk about - the more excited you are about your (badass) self, the more alluring and appealing you'll become.
posted by bendy at 1:07 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am confused--particularly by this line: Because seriously, I am boring and I'm not being hard on myself or have low self-esteem, it's just that I'm boring and quiet and introverted.

Why does introvert=boring? If anything, it is your introvertedness that might be the most awesome feature you have. I get that you want a blossoming renewal kind of thing (read: badass), but are you going to permanently become badass? Is this just a vacation thing, or do you really want to become a different person? Do you want to be "badass" for yourself, or for your husband? Will your husband recognize you? Will he be freaked out?

You mention in your original question that you might--just might--want to be mysterious. Introverted people are mysterious because they tend to keep their cards close to their chest. So, maybe play that up instead of pretending to be a big, bold persona. I'm not saying to not do the things you want, like exercising and taking up new interests and meeting new people (all good things for anyone to do), but maybe--just maybe--you can still be an introverted badass (I hope so, at least; it is the condition to which I aspire).
posted by oohisay at 6:56 AM on May 25, 2011

The Tinkering School has some great ideas for things that you can do with your kids that will make everyone more interesting (and interested, as was rightly pointed out above). There's also a great book on 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do).

Also, virtually everything and anything on interests me and I love to share the things I learn there with my family.

And yeah, losing weight, I think you actually have that covered with the running, jumping, swimming, eating better.

I also agree and nth the idea of writing, more than reading, to help you realise how much you already have to say and the various ways that you can express those things.

And may I just say, as a husband, that while I'm sure everyone is correct that you are awesome and interesting, I also think this is very sweet and loving of you - I'm sure your hubby will be thrilled at how confident and beaming you are from all the things you've been doing and feeling and learning.

(Just don't be too hard on him if it takes him a little while to realise what you've been doing and that you've been doing it for him, we do tend to love the people we love just the way they are.)
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 7:01 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Does he love your mom's food, too? If you learn and record one recipe per day of that great food, you can then present the private cookbook to him when he gets there. The kids can work on a cover for it, and/or decorate individual pages, or larn to use a camera and take pictures of the food.

If you don't like your introversion, make an external (e.g., physical) change and see if you like it. Lift weights for a while each day (a friend of mine loves kettlebells, but that's just his thing), and maybe you'll get killer arms that you want to show off in a top you sew yourself [new skill?].

Sometimes awesomeness is found inreflection: can you tech the kids somethign new and all grow a little? For example, play Bananagrams with the kids every day, and see if they can beat him by the beginning of his visit and at the end of your whole trip.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:18 AM on May 25, 2011

Best answer: Here are the exercisey things that I can do in the woods (or on a lake) that make me feel somewhat badass: climbing trees (or rocks, if you have those), swinging from rope swings, wandering off the trail and maybe coming back with a few minor battle wounds to show for the bushwacking, mountain biking, conquering big hills (on foot or bike), and since you mentioned the lake, I'll add kayaking/canoeing to that. Were you to go out for a paddle a few times a week, your arms would be looking toned by the end.

I love the tree fort idea, but if that's too much you could always make your own rope swing. Hang it high enough so that your kids can't reach it if you're worried about that. I'm wondering what the fancy association would think of such things, though.

Do you and/or your kids know the constellations in the night sky?

Do you or your kids ride bikes? Do you know how to fix those bikes?

If you end up buying clothes over the summer, remember that badasses generally don't shop at the mall. They really don't shop at places like Ann Taylor. I dunno, my version of badass is a little bit butch, but there are so many versions.

What are some things you dig and/or want to know more about? Badasses are self-assured, so pursue something you want. If you've reached badassedness, you won't care what other people think about it.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:52 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok, I think this is my badass summer plan:

Build a fort in the woods
Learn to drive my parent's ATV
Go kayaking more than once at the lake
Swim at the lake even though it's gonna be cold!
Run around the lake (this will be my longest and toughest run to date)
Make a fantastic chocolate cake
Hike a local tough trail and eat lunch on the trail
Read a type of book I don't normally read. I'm thinking Unbroken
Go to fancy lake party and start a conversation with someone I don't know (yikes!)
Do some sketching/watercolor/art while overlooking the ponds or the babbling brook
Go fishing
Write a story featuring each of my children

I'll update with pics once the list is complete! (Sassyfras and the NOT Bummer Summer)
posted by Sassyfras at 11:38 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'm not here to be a pest or upset you, but your inquiry saddens me for various reasons. Undoubtedly the issue of 'who' you're doing this for is an indication of deeper issues. The fact that you even brought your husband into it at all suggests you feel inadequate. In any event, I hope that you learn to love yourself unconditionally, and want to get in shape for YOU and your longevity; not to please a man, husband or not. Ask yourself why you're feeling so insecure, and crush whatever it is that's hindering your self-love. If it has to do with your spouse's behavior, I wouldn't stash it away and secretly attempt to improve upon your physical appearance and your appeal, I would confront the issue. I thought unconditional love and marriage was all about supporting one another and savoring the liberation of being able to express yourself freely, especially when one partner is feeling insecure? If it has nothing to do with your husband's behavior and you're simply wanting to improve upon yourself.. why put a time frame on it? What's with the mad rush to perfection? Slow, gradual steps towards a goal will render you a success every time. The 'mysterious' factor indicates major insecurities on your part, and the act of forcing yourself to engage in social activity that you organically dislike, (which is perfectly normal and wonderfully uniquely you by the way) is also a red flag. Why can't you accept and love yourself the way you are naturally? I too feel out of place in large 'high society' social events in which everyone goes around people-pleasing, it's awful to me. So I don't put myself in those positions, because I simply don't want to. I love myself enough to do whatever feels right. I would never attempt to put myself in a situation that I had a track record of disliking to "surprise" someone that was supposed to love the real me.. that's ludicrous. Don't force yourself to do anything. If you're bored or dissatisfied, find something that actually inspires you and pursue it because it will bring you joy, not because it will "impress" your husband.

I think we all want to improve upon our characters, and we should all want to be as healthy and vibrant as possible, but you must learn to love yourself. Describing oneself as 'boring' is self-destructive, and the act of someone doing so exposes the negative internal dialogue that person has been burdening themselves with for who knows how long. Anyway you didn't ask for a psychoanalysis, but I couldn't sit there and give you advice on how to drop weight quickly and 'make yourself' more interesting, I'd feel like an ass. It sounds to me like your husband has made you feel fat and boring, or you've imagined that he has or thinks so. That's either his problem, or yours. In any event my suggestion is to change your thought patterns- catch yourself when you're on auto-pilot, and crush that nagging voice that keeps picking on you. Slaughter it. Start enjoying life and doing whatever brings you joy naturally, and you'll glow. Whether it's exercising, staying active, feeding your body wonderful organic nutrients, or painting. People will be drawn to your happy, content state. Everyone admires someone who truly loves and supports themselves unconditionally, and people also admire those who embrace their interests, whether petty or inspiring, with vigor and delight.
posted by JeSuisLibre at 6:38 PM on May 26, 2011

Jeez people, she's just trying to do something exciting with her summer, and surprising other people - especially those that you love - is very exciting. She wants to couple the joy of this surprise with motivation to embrace some new facets of life that she's always been interested in.

I think it's great, and that you're going to have a blast.
posted by corn_bread at 4:08 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I think I worded my post wrong or implied something that I did not mean to imply because I'm really not trying to be a different person, but it would be nice to do some different and exciting activities - things other than sitting on the porch swing reading a book (although that's fine), I just want to shake things up a bit! And it's always nice to remind each other why we got married in the first place. After 15 years of marriage and 3 kids sometimes we forget who we are and the life and light we have within ourselves. Time away from each other, in a completely different setting, just screams to me, "do something different! try something new! learn something new!" Because pretty soon I'll be back to the same old routine without 100 acres and a lake at my disposal. I'll still do new and exciting things but here's this clump of time that's really begging for me to do something with it.

My husband is great. He thinks I'm great. I think I'm great too. But like I said, I'd like to shake it up a bit. Lately I have become boring . . . or maybe just very routine and predictable. My husband thinks I'm fine and dandy the way I am, but why not change it up a bit? Add some fun back into my/our life!

Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses and the fabulous ideas!
posted by Sassyfras at 7:22 AM on May 27, 2011

Best answer: You could learn to break an apple into halves and quarters with your bare hands.
posted by raztaj at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Start good new habits that you intend to keep for a lifetime.

If "occasionally learn new fun stuff!" is that habit, that sounds outstandingly awesome to me. :-)

Read Dale Carnegie's how to win friends and influence people. While it's cliche, it provides a few conversation starters, which is always good.
posted by talldean at 8:26 PM on May 31, 2011

So cool that you're taking advantage of this sabbatical from your every day life.

Sounds like you have a pretty solid plan already, but here's a couple more.

Make small talk with X new people twice a week. This could happen at the fancy party or at the grocery store.

After one of you're interesting experiences, figure out how to tell it as a story in a conversation. Include places for audience interactions ("go ahead and guess what happened next") and spots where you will change the tone or pitch of your voice. Is there a part where you should whisper or shout?

Intentionally sit still and do nothing for 10 minutes.

Arm wrestle your kids.

If you catch a turtle while fishing, keep it and take care of it for a few days.
posted by jander03 at 1:05 PM on June 1, 2011

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