11 Tips: How to do Summer Right.
Remember when we were children? Summer was endless, fun, full of possibility? Is it now just hot, busy, full of work with occasional parties or trips, and it all goes by too fast? Then this is for you.
When I was a boy, summer was all about…sun. The pool. Friends. Parties. Bicycling. Comic books. Counting change to buy a pack of baseball cards or play video games. No, I didn’t grow up in the 1950s. I grew up as a child, unrushed into adulthood.
Now, my summer starts in June and ends, seemingly, a week later. It’s busy, hot, fast, indoors is freezing with AC, there’s some fun parties and a few swims, and then suddenly the chill of Autumn hits and the college kids are back and it’s over and I have to wait another year for another summer and the chance that I’ll do it right.
1. Don’t drive. If you have to drive, drive less. Get on a bus, bike to work (you can put your bike on a bus, usually), walk if you can—try to move yourself when you move. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator. Park a block or two away from wherever you’re going. Do anything you can to get yourself outside, with nothing over your head (no car roof) but the sky and trees and sunshine.
2. Bring your work to cafes, to pools, to nature. If you have such flexibility, take your laptop to a cafe and sit where you can see the outside. I even take my laptop to the pool and turn on my hotspot (freeeeedom!) and set my laptop inside a cardboard box that I can fold and unfold. The box serves as a photographer’s tent, which shades the laptop from above, and both sides. If you don’t have such flexibility, ask for it. Work at home a little more. Cafes, however, provide community. If you can’t leave the office, lunch outside. Take five minute breaks and do a shoulderstand or run around the block. Little movement = big benefits.
3. Hike, Bike, Walk. Doghike. Friendhike. If you’re going on dates, hike, don’t drink. Hike. Get out. Have no ambition about it—just go. Same goes for biking or walking. My mom walks to work. In Boulder, named happiests and healthiest city in the US many times over, folks old and young bike to work. Cleaner air for all, our hearts and lungs open up, our minds relax and clear.
4. Cancel your Netflix plan for the summer. I just did. Watch a movie only as a treat, not a routine. Instead, find a book that you want to read and take it to the park, the pool, on your hikes. Read by a river—it’ll be the highlight of your summer.
5. Don’t eat anything directly out of a package for a week. Starting now. Salads. Cooking at home. Apples. Bananas. No plastic unless it’s for a package you’ll then use in your cooking. Then, eat outside.
6. Plan less. Cancel more. Clear your calendar. Do nothing. Or do less. Rediscover open space and time. It’s heaven, and relaxing—a detox for our frayed nerves.
7. Make plans…to do nothing. Camping. A festival. but make sure they aren’t too planny–too full. Make space. During the week : Get up early and enjoy the morning! Go to bed early while it’s still a bit light outside….it’s wonderful.
8. Find and do work that you love. Then life becomes a sort of vacation, even if you’re working (too) hard. If you don’t love it, consider kickstartering your dream, or building up your dream on the side. Now is the best time to begin to shift to a livelihood that you’ll want to get up for each and every morning. This is a big one.
9. Make gaps within your busy-ness. Don’t check your phone while driving, or walking, or biking. Maybe just keep your phone in your bag, off your person (healthier, anyway, as reflected in the fine print on cell phones these days). Allow gaps in your day, instead of filling them: gaps to look at the traffic, or sky or trees, or just whatever’s around you. Gaps provide space for relaxation, appreciation and insight—all good stuff worth making room for.
10. Get offline more. If it’s plugged in, put it on a powercord and unplug it whenever not in use. Make your default simplicity, not entertainment or busy-ness. Go get that Vitamin D.
How Summer can be spacious instead of busy—here are some practical tips:
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