While winter is technically the shortest season of the year, summer always feels short-lived. It’s been that way since we were kids and we got two months off from school – two short months that came and went so fast, you’d think “there’s no way school starts again so soon!”. It’s also the one season where everyone gets a little bit of FOMO – the fear of missing out on things. The good weather brings people outside, and fills parks and trails and beaches and lakes with more bodies than what was there all spring. We have learned to plan our lives around these two months of freedom and sunshine.
I’ve been asking friends what their plans are for summer and the answers always include the word “busy”. Birthdays, bachelorettes, weddings, baby showers, reunions, camping trips and vacations. Calendars are filling up fast, and everything feels like it’s being crammed into a tiny two-month window. If your calendar looks the same, my telling you there are just 78 days until Labour Day – or 11 weeks and 11 weekends – might fill you with a sense of panic. If that’s the case, I would encourage you to try to slow down and enjoy this beautiful season. Here are a few ways you can do that…
1. Schedule Less
There was a time when I had every free minute booked solid. On Monday, I could’ve told you what I was doing every single day and night for the next two weeks. Now, I’m almost the complete opposite. I usually have a few things planned each week – often a gym date, hike date and breakfast date – but that’s it. I’m a big fan of leaving lots of afternoons and evenings open, not because I don’t want to make plans or see people, but because it gives me the freedom to say “yes” to last-minute requests – if I feel like it. Because that’s the other side of this: it’s ok to say “no” too. You’re allowed to have a quiet day to yourself, or at least a few quiet hours. If your family’s commitments require that you fill up a calendar with plans, that’s ok, but make sure you pencil in some quiet time, too. Everyone needs a little R&R.
2. Soak Up the Extra Sunlight
…and I don’t mean by trying to get a tan in it (though it’s fine if that’s what you like to do). I mean take advantage of the extra daylight we get in the mornings and evenings. I’ve always been a morning person, so it’s not usually difficult to talk me into getting up early or exercising before I have coffee or start work. But what I love most about summer is I can do the same thing late into the evening. Sometimes I wake up and go for a walk around my neighbourhood first thing, sometimes I go after dinner and sometimes I do both. I’ve even walked to the beach to catch a few beautiful summer sunsets. Whether you choose to get outside in the morning or before bed, the fresh air will energize you and the movement will release any stress you might be feeling. (The Vitamin D is great, too!)
3. Eat Fresh Food
This may not have been obvious in my last post, but I don’t actually love to cook. I do make 95% of my meals at home (usually just go out for breakfast once/week) but what I cook is very simple – especially in the summer. There’s something about summer that makes me want to get out of the kitchen. Maybe it’s the thought of having to stand in front of a stove, while already trying to cope with the heat in a city where air conditioning isn’t part of the building code. Anyway, my daily menu changes drastically, as a result, and I typically eat mostly fresh produce in the summer. Besides eggs for breakfast, I live on Greek salad, green smoothies, peppers, carrots and fruit. And raspberries and blueberries are my favourite dessert. ‘Tis the season – we might as well enjoy nature’s treats!
4. Wander (at Your Own Pace)
You know how much I’ve been enjoying exploring more of my island, this year – seeing new places, hiking, etc. Adventure days have become some of the best days of my entire month. I love driving alongside a friend, talking about anything and everything for hours, taking in new sights, marvelling at the views and more. We’re never in a race to arrive or leave. That’s actually something I love most about hiking, in general: it’s not competitive. Sure, you could try to reach a summit within a certain amount of time, but what’s the fun in that? The point is simply to get to the top and see the view. Wherever you wander this summer – locally around your city, your province/state, your country or around the world – slow down, and soak up the sights and sounds.
5. Unplug and Do Nothing
Finally, the best way to slow down and enjoy summer is to simply unplug and do nothing. You don’t have to unplug for a week, to make it count – simply give yourself 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour each day to do whatever you want, without the buzzing of a phone or computer or television nearby. The best way to unplug is to get into a body of water, like a pool or a lake. I lived in water, when I was a kid; it was my favourite place to be, because it gave me the freedom to move around however I wanted to. You could also grab a blanket or towel and lay in the grass. Watch the clouds, count the birds that fly by, listen to music, have a picnic… Or you could do what I intend to do this summer, and that’s read more – outside, whenever possible.
My Summer Reading (and Listening) List
Speaking of reading, I thought I’d share the list of books I plan to read this summer, including a few audiobooks I want to finish (or just listen to again for the umpteenth time). I also want to devour every episode of my new favourite podcast.
What I’ll be reading…
- Packing Light by Allison Fallon
- Girl in the Woods by Aspen Metis
- Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
- Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (won from Penguin Random House!)
- Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
- Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
- Rising Strong by Brené Brown
What I’ll be listening to…
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (I listen to this once/month, I swear!)
- My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
- Thrive by Arianna Huffington
- Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette (I am truly obsessed with this podcast.)
And I won’t be listening to it, per se, but Carrie and I are launching Season 2 of Budgets and Cents tomorrow! If you haven’t already subscribed, do that now and you’ll find not one but two episodes available for download in the morning. :)
What are some of your favourite ways to soak up summer? And what’s on your reading (or listening) list?
PS – Registration for A Simple Year is open until June 23rd! Sign up and get the first six months of content. I’ll be helping you simplify your money in July, which includes a copy of Mindful Budgeting. :)