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|Photo of rocks slightly underwater.

Summer Activities to Slow Down & Be Inspired

Our culture is obsessed with being busy. Instead of hobbies, people have side hustles. Yet, one of the secrets to super creative (and productive!) people is slowing down and making space in your brain for new ideas to form. You’re not going to have a flash of inspiration if you’re constantly in the weeds of work or tasks of daily living. You need to make space for inspiration to arrive. Plus, you need a break! For the Design Pool team, scattered across New England, summer is the perfect time of year to take a break outside and enjoy summer activities.

We all know that spending time in nature is good for your physical and mental health. It also helps get your creative juices flowing if you’re in a creative rut. If you’re one of those people who never seem to know what to do when you finally have time, here are three tips from Design Pool’s Kristen and Kristin with ideas on how to slow down and make space for inspiration.

Six Summer Activities

Kristen Dettoni’s Tips:

Sit outside and read.
I love reading outside on my deck. For me, it’s one of the easiest ways to settle down quickly. I love to decompress for a couple of hours with a good book or even pause for a short burst of time with a fluffy magazine.  

Collect something at a beach.
New England has some of the most beautiful beaches. I’m not one to sunbathe. Instead, I often walk along the beach and look for rocks. I have a fantasy that one day I’ll redo a bathroom and use these found rocks as a shower floor. It’s fun trying to find the perfect shape, color, and texture to bring home.  

Photo of rocks slightly underwater.

Gather flowers.
Just wandering around the garden is relaxing and inspiring, but I also love to walk and pick flowers. Sometimes I sketch flowers from my garden; other times, I use flowers, such as marigolds, in natural dyeing projects. I also love to press flowers to preserve them.

Kristin Crane’s Tips:

Sketching on the go.
Taking my sketchbook on a hike is a fun way to force myself to slow down and observe. With a pen and a small sketchbook, I make little trail maps as I walk. I stop, watch, and look closely at what’s in front of me. I try to keep these super quick and not overthink it.

An open sketchbook with a trail map drawn by Kristin Crane while on a trip to Kauai.
Trail Map

Listening to the birds.
Lately, I have been obsessed with the Merlin Bird app. It’s pretty much the “Shazam for birds” and might be my top summer entertainment. (Plus, it’s free!) I could spend hours sitting outside with the app open, learning who is singing all around me. With a visual of what to look for, I try to find the birds. Letting my ear guide my attention is a welcome break in my uber-visual day-to-day existence.

Go for a walk.
During lockdown, getting out for a walk became a crucial part of my day. Thankfully, it has turned into a habit that I have held onto. If I’m getting antsy or unfocused during the workday, a 10-minute walk around the block is much better for my mental health than aimlessly scrolling Instagram.

What about you? What are your favorite summer activities? Let me know in the comments, or tag me on Instagram. I’d love to see what you’re working on!

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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