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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Make the Most of Summer

Remember when summer used to be fun?   When you were a kid, summer activities were a great escape. Your only goal each day was to figure out the bigger thrill:  hide and seek with the neighbor kids or a game of catch with your brother.  You were completely free. Fun was your only endgame.

You are an adult now and that comes with its own benefits.  You can stay up as late as you like playing poker with your neighbors, rent a camper and tour Yellowstone, and swim in the deep end.  However, when was the last time you actually did any of that? When was the last time you spent a whole afternoon on an inflatable raft, sipping sun tea and reading a great mystery novel?

If your answer is “I just took a day off last week,” but all you did was run errands, that does not count. Crossing things off your to-do list might feel satisfying, but it rarely feels joyful. And joy is the name of the game this summer.

The first step to having more fun with summer activities is carving out time for it. Make weekends sacred by setting good boundaries.  Turn off work email on Friday afternoon and leave it off until Monday morning.  Dedicate at least an hour on a weekend day to ditching your smartphone. Say no to some time-draining requests. Also, remember that PTO (paid time off) hours don’t have to be used for only doctor’s appointments or renewing your driver’s license. The next time you have a few PTO hours accrued (and no big fires to put out at work), devote some of them to deliberate fun.

Has it been so long since you planned for summer fun that you are not even sure what it looks like? To help you kick things off, use this list as a jumping-off point for your own brainstorming. And whatever you decide to do, have fun! Summer’s best days will be here (and gone) before you know it.

Tour your city’s local landmarks.   

Design a custom tour based on your own personal interests. Love local food? Spend a few weekends visiting your city’s farmers’ markets. Coffee enthusiast? Tour the area’s artisan coffeehouses. Bike geek? Tour the local parks and byways on two wheels.

Explore the local art museums.   (Amy Mitchell)

Explore non-art museums.  Most major metropolitan areas have a variety of collections; history museums, science museums, children’s museums, etc.

Peruse outdoor collections and other unique oddities such as plant conservatories, arboretums and sculpture parks or take a day trip to see a quirky landmark.

Find a schedule of special summer events and pencil in the ones that interest you. If they are in your calendar, you will not forget them, but you can always opt out if something else comes up in the meantime. Look for art fairs, block parties, neighborhood garage sales, concerts or movies in the park, ethnic food fairs, guided nature hikes in city parks and community education classes.

See a matinee in the middle of the week.

Play catch with your sweetheart. For an extra challenge, pretend it is a first date and talk about only those things you spent hours talking about when you first met.

Hit the nearest water park. Go down the biggest slide at least once.

Mow your name into the lawn.  

Mow in a maze for your kids and then chase them through it.

Play a pick-up basketball game at the park.

Play a game of bocce ball.

Play soccer with your dog. If one ball is destroyed in a tooth-puncture incident, just pull out another ball and keep going. Your dog will think you are a wizard.

Take your dog to the park for a game of Frisbee.

Play board games. Include a few that you played as a kid (Monopoly? Battleship? The Game of Life?).

Re-create summer camp.  Gather a small group of adult friends and organize a day of crafting and outdoor activities. Build a fire in the evening and roast marshmallows.

Take the morning off to treat your significant other to a leisurely breakfast at home or at your favorite eatery.

Have a family picnic in your backyard, followed by a game of Frisbee. You will feel like you have been on a mini-vacation on a work night.

Camp in your backyard. Pitch a tent, build a fire, roast some kabobs and watch the stars. In the morning, make coffee over an open fire.

Have an open-air movie screening. Select a children’s movie and invite the neighborhood kids for a showing or get a summer action movie and invite a group of adult friends.

Start a garden or expand your existing one.

Grill veggies, just toss or brush them with olive oil, salt and pepper prior to grilling, then squeeze on a little lemon once you have pulled them off the fire.

Fire-roast some peaches, and enjoy the enticing aroma wafting across your yard.

Spend five minutes outside before work. Bring a cup of coffee and the paper or just sit in silence. A few minutes outside before you start your day can make a world of difference in your mood.

Sit in your yard for an hour. Take a book and soak up the sun (don a hat so you do not burn). Alternatively, take your computer or smartphone and catch up on Twitter or Tumblr; do not forget that mobile technology can follow us anywhere, even outside.

Spend a few minutes in the front yard enjoying the sunset and waving to the neighbors.

Swim.

Learn a new swim stroke.

Go tubing down the nearest river.

Water-ski on a nearby lake.

Skip stones along the shore.

Learn another language.

Learn the constellations; lying outside under the stars is half the fun. So is sharing the knowledge with your family or friends.

Join or start a summer book club. Dive into all those “great summer reads” you have been collecting forever but have never cracked open.

Teach yourself to write with your non-dominant hand; it is a good workout for your brain, and it is a fun party trick!

Trade an hour of TV time for an hour of time learning something through iTunes U (where many university lectures are free). Alternatively, try YouTube, where you can learn almost anything; how to knit, play the guitar, how to tie a Windsor knot, how to make a cherry pie.  If you can think it, someone somewhere has made an instructional video about how to do it!

Try out a new fitness or dance class and discover a type of movement you really love.

Hang in a hammock.

Do absolutely nothing.

Hope these help, have some fun.  Thanks for all you do!

Yours in AAHAM, 

John

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