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Designing Your Summer Vacation: How a ‘live list’ can help create meaningful memories

Make your summer vacation exactly what your family wants it to be.

The school bells are ringing! Our students are almost, if not already, out for summer vacation. So, at the very start of this season, decide what you want your summer to look and feel like.

Studio 5 contributor Kelly Jensen believes in the power of design, choice, and decision when it comes to planning for the summer season. She said, “If you don’t know your destination, if you don’t know where you’re headed, you’re going to find yourself off on some path and the time passes anyway.”


Kelly emphasized the importance of setting goals and mapping out the summer vacation you want to live. She believes that even just a couple of things that say, “this is what I wanted to fill my life with. This is how I wanted to live,” can make a significant difference in how you experience your summer.

The Live List: A Family Tradition

Every year, Kelly’s family engages in a fun tradition. They create what they call a “live list.” This list started when Kelly was 18 years old and her dad challenged her to think about who she was and what she wanted her life to look like.

The live list can include both big and small things that the family wants to fill their life with. It could be a root beer taste test, ice cream at midnight, jumping in the pool with clothes on, traveling to a place they’ve always wanted to go, learning a new skill, going to a new church, or doing a specific service project.

Kelly said, “It’s really like who do I want to be? Who do I want my kids to be?”

The Value of Intentionality

Some might argue that they would do those things anyway, so what’s the value or benefit of saying it in advance? According to Kelly, it’s a little bit of everything, but mostly it’s the gratitude of it. “When you make lists, and you know what you’re supposed to do, checking that off makes you feel confident,” she explained. “You start to teach your kids that the little things matter, and also that it feels good to accomplish goals.”

Trying Something New

One year, Kelly’s family decided to make a garden as part of their live list. It started as just a small corner of grass lined with river rocks, and they planted a few things. Over the years, it has grown into something that the family loves so much.

Kelly believes that this hands-in-the-dirt opportunity teaches children that they’re important, that what they think is important, and that their little hands or their big hands can create magical things.

The Power of the Live List

Kelly truly believes that the live list is the best thing she’s ever done in her motherhood. “It gives us a path to walk on. It gives us a knowledge of how to love each other. You really can see what’s in somebody’s heart by what goes on their live list and how to love them best.”

As we head into summer 2024, let’s take a leaf out of Kelly’s book and start designing our summer. Let’s make the most of the time that’s going to pass anyway. Let’s create our live lists and fill our lives with joy, stillness, and the things that we really want time for.

Find Kelly online @kellyejensen.

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