Carry the Gift of Summer
It is awful to have to face it, but the end of summer is near. Most years people are dreading the end of beautiful weather and the grace of less commitments. This year is a bit different due to unusual uncomfortable weather in many parts of the country and the stress of a difficult economy. But summer is wonderful all the same - it's a season most people wait all year for. In many cases summer is the one time of the year people expect the stress of life to relax a little. Which leads me to wonder, what is it about summer that we love so much and how can we carry those qualities without throughout the year?
First of all, I suppose we have to admit 'weather' is a big factor. But its really more than weather, its spending time outside. In the summer we go to parks, lakes, oceans, rivers, forests, RV parks, campgrounds, National parks, city parks, basketball courts, golf courses and so on. So the lesson I take is: spend time outside. Yes, in the middle of winter its not as easy, but its often just as beautiful and the air is just as fresh. Bundle up, dress for the weather and go outside! Stay connected to nature in any way you can and you'll stay connected one of the benefits of summer.
The second factor that comes to mind is how much we socialize in the summer. People have barbeques, picnics, family events with fireworks, theme parties and road trips. Socializing is a bit harder to organize and have the energy for when everyone is busy during the remainder of the year - school is on, work is heavy, life speeds up. But, if you plan ahead, you could have a fun social event at your home or with friends or out once a month. Keep it simple, do a potluck, or go to a restaurant where everyone pays for themselves; maybe meet after dinner. Just do something and make it fun.
The next thing I notice that makes summer so special is that in the summer people gather around interests and not around roles. Meaning, we spend time doing what we love (hiking, gardening, playing ball, etc.) and not getting together just because the boss asked us to or we are trying to keep up with the Jones. Many people feel a sense of youth during the summer, and I think this is because we feel free of our roles and excited by our interests. You can keep connected to your interests all year and join groups or programs where you meet people with common interests - not common workplace or social set.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, summer gives us permission to play. People of all ages and abilities try things they wouldn't the rest of the year. They play games, sports, act silly and spend more time acting as if life were a party. I am not talking about being reckless or indulgent, but carefree and good humored. Looking for fun, being lighthearted and making a commitment to do something fun on a regular basis is key is carrying the gift of summer into t he rest of your year.