What Can I Accomplish in Two Months?
June 26, 2016 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm a Boston-area high school teacher and for the first time in many years, I'm not working summer school. This means I have NOTHING I have to do for the next two months. I want the time to be relatively productive as well as very relaxing. What types of activities/hobbies/skills can a person pick up in two months?

I've got a few weeks booked in various vacation spots and I'd love to be a bit productive.

Things I like:
cooking clean vegetarian food
running (already training for marathon)
playing with my awesome dog Detective Kima
practicing meditation and mindfulness
practicing American Sign Language
reading (I'm teaching "Confederacy of Dunces" next year; it's my favorite book)
being outside
volunteering for political campaign and local political scene

Not so Into:
Pinterest-type projects
refinishing furniture
drinking alcohol
building anything
anything competitive like soccer, rugby, tennis.

What are things I could pick up within a few months that don't cost much to start and have a relatively high level of success? Additionally, my 17 year old son will be at home for his last summer before he begins senior year in high school.

Bonus for links to ideas.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes to Education (28 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
you could learn Morse code
posted by thelonius at 2:58 PM on June 26, 2016

Best answer: Yoga with Adriene has 30 day yoga programs on youtube for free which are really chill
posted by speakeasy at 3:03 PM on June 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Do you like art? Zentangle is a really accessible and easy-to-learn art style that can be done in a journal with any pen or marker. It's just lines and patterns. I was surprised, given my own lack of drawing ability, at how sophisticated my finished drawings looked.
posted by JoannaC at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

My summer project is sewing my first garment from a pattern.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 3:20 PM on June 26, 2016

A lot of teachers in my area do a one month intensive yoga teacher training in the summer.
posted by instamatic at 3:26 PM on June 26, 2016

Best answer: Ukulele. Practice a little bit every day, by the end of summer you will be able to play a few songs! There are small groups all over the place that get together every few weeks to play together, too.
posted by clone boulevard at 3:29 PM on June 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Read a Big Important Book. (Ulysses? Moby Dick? Don Quixote?) maybe with a study group?

Use Duolingo to learn or brush up on a foreign language.
posted by vunder at 3:34 PM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fiction or memoir writing? There's got to be a summer class in Boston, or you could take an online course. You and your son could even do that together.
posted by BibiRose at 3:35 PM on June 26, 2016

Listen to all of Mahler's symphonies with the score on you lap.
posted by Namlit at 3:51 PM on June 26, 2016

Learn to read/write Japanese katakana and hiragana characters.
posted by jimmereeno at 3:53 PM on June 26, 2016

Go kayaking with your son. I understand there are boat rentals on the Charles.

Write a poem a day. I have found ir very interesting to write pastiches of some well known poems. It forces you to confront some of the tricky issues of rhyme and meter that might escape your attention.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:26 PM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you've got any musical background (or even if you don't), learning to play a new instrument is fun. (I picked up the violin after knowing how to play the flute. Not at all similar, but with the internet and a good beginner book, I muddled along. I rented an instrument from a local music store.)

Learning a new language is fun. Duolingo is fun because it gamifies things but also gives you a good structure and clear progress.

You included knitting, but what about crocheting? I think most people know how to do both, but if not, definitely try out crocheting. Or branch out into sewing. That's always been next on my crafts to learn list.

Also, writing! Journaling, fiction, memoir, fanfiction, poetry, etc.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:34 PM on June 26, 2016

I would think about freezing and preserving summer produce. Pesto and tomato sauce are the most practical for the way I cook (I don't know your staples), but pickling and fermenting things such as kim chi might feel like more of a new skill.
posted by yarntheory at 4:40 PM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Local Geography. Learn one street really really well every day - the houses that are on it, where the lights are, where there is parking, what shops are on it, what streets it interconnects with and where and what it connects. Even figure out some of its history if you can. Start with some major routes (which may take a few days on their own) but really get the side streets as well. You'll find you never need google to find something again.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:00 PM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could learn a tai chi form.
posted by hollyholly at 5:04 PM on June 26, 2016

How about inline skating? If you haven't done it before, there's a bit of learning involved, but 2 months should be plenty of time to pick it up. If you already know how to skate, maybe you could learn how to go backwards or how to go down hills. (You can do linked turns to control your speed, just like skiing. Super fun!)
posted by Redstart at 6:01 PM on June 26, 2016

I get a lot of enjoyment out of printmaking, so I'd recommend giving that a go. There are a lot of super easy relief techniques like that styrofoam demo, but for a little money you can get a starter carving kit and some safety-cut soft rubber plates at Blick. Fun stuff!
posted by Sublimity at 6:12 PM on June 26, 2016

Make a quilt - it's a little bit pinterest in that you may find ideas for patterns there --but it's something I picked up more from reading various blogs and youtubers (I've learned every sewing technique I need for quilting on youtube - come to think of it, i've learned almost every sewing technique period on you tube.)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:32 PM on June 26, 2016

Getting certified as a braille transcriber is supposed to take "twelve to eighteen months," but maybe you can get through it faster if you're doing it full time? Like 3 lessons per week? If you have a Mac, iTunes has a braille typing program for six dollars.
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 6:37 PM on June 26, 2016

Best answer: I think you and Detective Kima (who is totes adorbs, BTW) might enjoy a summer training program. I have no idea where you live or what Kima might be interested in, but most towns of any size support dog-enthusiast groups. With my two mutts, I've been variously involved in agility, Treibball, mantrailing, Barn Hunt, and social hiking groups. My Border Collie mix is a Canine Good Citizen and the Found Hound is a therapy dog who works with special-needs kids.

Even if you do it just for fun, training projects broaden your dog's perspective on the world and deepen your relationship with them.
posted by workerant at 6:42 PM on June 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

Similar to yartheory's suggestion I would make freezable dinners ahead for when you are busy at work - you can par-cook summer greens in boiling salted water and freeze them to sautee later, for instance, or make your own tomato sauce and freeze or can it, or sautee onions, garlic and ginger for a curry base. Or you could freeze casseroles, curries or soups for weeknight meals.

If had two months free I would strongly consider doing the sleep program in this book.

Also, you could probably pick up a little bit of coding. It can be a really fun intellectual challenge, and it can help automate routine tasks you might encounter during the school year. There are a lot of free resources online if you want to try it out.
posted by Lycaste at 7:09 PM on June 26, 2016

Best answer: Install a hammock. Practice getting into the hammock each morning and out each afternoon until you can do so gracefully.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:06 PM on June 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Why not do a yoga retreat at Kripalu?

Not on your list of likes - but since you are free as a bird, you might consider getting last minute tickets to plays (cheap!) I did this one summer and just stopped by the ticket office to see if any were available - when they were, I saw some great plays that I would have never ever gone to see, if they weren't I just did something else!
posted by Toddles at 8:44 PM on June 26, 2016

Best answer: Learn to sail! Boston Community Boating is on the Charles and has a great one month package (only $99 if I remember correctly) that I used a couple months ago with unlimited lessons and time on the water. You'll need to pass a test to get out on the water yourself and at first you'll only be allowed to go when the flag is green, indicating calm waters. It was a great introduction to sailing and if you like it you can pay for a whole year, which is still incredibly reasonably priced. They also loan out kayaks to members.
posted by peacheater at 4:47 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since you enjoy other physical things... Take up weight lifting! You'd be surprised what 30 minutes 3-5x a week can do in two months. You'll learn a lot about your body and hey, you might like it enough to keep going. You can easily start with bodyweight exercises and that's completely free. A pullup bar is a small expense later.

This goes for men and women. You don't need to worry about getting bulky, if that was easy we wouldn't have professional bodybuilders.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:19 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree with workerant: If I had extra time I'd definitely do some training with my dog.
posted by radioamy at 11:35 AM on June 27, 2016

Best answer: I asked a similar question a few years ago and got some good answers. I think the first priority is enjoying unstructured free time, something that is the greatest of luxuries. The next step is to surround yourself with materials and things to diddle around with, but without the obligation to track your progress or cross things off the list.

Here are some things that I have happily explored (without having to accomplish) in my summer months:

- learning instruments (piano, banjo, guitar)
- drawing (free sketching, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain)
- caligraphy
- journaling (The Artist's Way)
- bookbinding
- photography
- exercise (Couch 2 5K, Yoga with Adriene, 30 day shred)
- learning about local medicinal plants and making stuff out of them
- hiking
- Coursera (I like the Learning How to Learn Course
- tons of reading (Infinite Jest, all of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels)
- cooking with the abundance of the summer garden

With all of those things at my fingertips, I spent a lot of the time in the hammock and then did some fooling around with these projects and hobbies.

posted by maca at 12:00 AM on June 29, 2016

Response by poster: My next question will be hammock-related and how to get Detective Kima to jump into it. Thanks everyone.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:34 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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