As of yesterday, summer has officially arrived where I live! Summer's grand entrance in the suburbs of Washington, DC means: too-hot days trapped inside rooms made too-cold by overcompensating air-conditioning, humidity so thick you can practically grab hold of it when you walk outside, an invasion of insects in search of human-flavored meals, and a pretty good chance of getting drenched in an afternoon thunderstorm.
Rereading that sentence, I realize just how negative I sound. (This is a perfect example of when someone I know in real life would look at me and say, "Are you being Positively Present...?) I used to like summer -- I really did -- but the older I get, the more I start to understand why I liked summer. As a kid, I loved the warmth and the freedom and the fireflies. (My greedy, present-loving self also loved knowing my birthday was arriving at the end of August.) As a teenager, I loved the long break from school and the lazy days spent flirting with boys by the pool. In my youth, summer always symbolized freedom.
But now -- as a thirty-something adult (how did that happen?!) -- summer doesn't spell out freedom the way it once did. There is certainly something freeing in the lengthy days (so many more hours of daylight!), and it does often seem that work slows a bit in the warmest months (not so this year, when my planner is jam-packed with tasks!). And, of course, there are the pleasures of sun-kissed skin and melting popsicles and fireflies winking in the grass at dusk, the brightly-colored flowers and the green, green, green of everything. Summer has some nice traits, it does, but it doesn't symbolize what it once did.
Instead, I now see summer as a stepping stone to autumn, the time of year when I feel most in love with the world outside my window. But as the founder of this little positive and mindful corner of the internet, it's my duty to (try to!) appreciate all seasons, to embrace the goodness in every day (regardless of the humidity or the heat index!). After all, that's really what Positively Present is all about -- finding the a way to embrace every situation, especially the ones that aren't our favorites.
[Though, I must note, a little thing like not loving summer is, in no way, a difficult situation that must be overcome. I might be whining a bit here -- perhaps as a reminder to myself that I'm human and not some positivity-promoting machine who is unaffected by life's little annoyances -- but I know with absolute certainty how shockingly lucky I am to experience summer in the way I do, to live in a place where I generally feel content and safe, to be free to do as please (for the most part!), and to continue existing season after season after season.]
Though I know it's silly, I find myself growing less and less attracted to summer with each passing year. Like an old love that keeps coming back, with each return I find myself more and more irritated with summer's presence. But, despite my disgruntled state, I certainly don't want the coming months to be filled with me griping about the weather or shutting myself indoors to avoid the sticky sweat and bug bites. (As you can clearly see, I've found myself heading down this path!) Like it or not, summer is here to stay for awhile, and I plan to do what I can make the best of it. Here's how I plan to embrace the season I once loved (but can only kind of now tolerate)....
- GET OUTSIDE IN THE FRESH AIR.
It's hard for me to tear myself away from my computer, my TV, my indoor comforts, and go outside. In general, I'm an indoor kind of girl. But summer is a great time to go outside and take part in outdoor activities (even if by "activity" I mean laying by the pool and reading...). While it's tempting to rationalize (as I did last weekend) that it was perfectly fine to spend a beautiful Saturdays indoors because I had "things to do," this is not a good way to embrace summer.
- PAY ATTENTION TO NATURE.
Already I've seen a few yellowed leaves fall from trees and they reminded me that summer will be over before I know it. Though it's not my favorite time of year, it's worth taking note of all the beauty it has to offer. I need to take note of the bright blue summer sky. I need to take note of the brilliant sun (that I'll surely be missing in winter!). I need to take note of the flowers still in bloom and the trees bursting with greenness. Summer has some great things to offer, nature-wise, and a great way to celebrate the season is to pay attention to it.
- ENJOY THE SUMMERTIME FARE.
Summer offers some delicious options (and a great opportunity to stay present with some of the five senses!) in the food department, and there are certain things I eat in summer that I rarely have any other time of the year -- watermelon, corn on the cob, popsicles, ice cream cones, to name a few. To celebrate the season, I plan to indulge in some of these summertime favorites on a regular basis, while they're still in season. It could be another year before I'm likely to eat them again so now's the time to take advantage of them and enjoy them in all of their summertime glory!
- WELCOME THE WARM (LIGHTER!) NIGHTS.
Now that the nights are warm and it gets dark so much later, I'm out late, wearing flip-flops and shorts to walk the dog. Already I've grown accustom to summer's warmth and it's easy for me to forget about all the nights in winter where I had to bundle up in a big puffy jacket and boots just to take a quick, freezing stroll around the block. The joy of summer is that all I need to do is slip on my flip-flops, grab the leash (and dog!), and go. Celebrating the summer means remembering how freeing it is to leave the house without a jacket, to know I won't have to brace myself in preparation for a cold blast of air when I open the door. While they're here, I'm going to do what I can to appreciate the warm summer nights.
- TAKE A LITTLE STAYCATION.
I work for myself so it might seem like I could easily take a day off to enjoy a beautiful day, but it's much harder to vacate from my "office" when time off isn't paid. (No vacation days for a writer and creator!) Even so, life's too short not to take some time off to enjoy the season of summer. This year, I'm looking to the Regina Brett's quote for inspiration: "Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds." I might not be able to take a true vacation, but that doesn't mean I can't embrace a bit of summertime laziness!
- MAKE USE OF THE LONG DAYS.
Often when I finish work in the winter, it's dark. And darkness, to me, signals time to sleep, making it really hard to get motivated for post-work activities. But in the summer things are different! It's light so late and one of the best ways to celebrate summer is to make use of all those wonderful extra hours of daylight. This year I'm determined to make good use of the long afternoons, planning some outdoor activities, dining al fresco (in daylight!), and taking my pup on nice long walks in the evening. The long days are one of the best ways aspects of summer and they're certainly worth celebrating!
If you made it all the way down to the end of this post (and through my ugh-it's-summer rant!), hopefully you'll have a better understanding of my default-negative-but-striving-to-be-positive brain works. It would be much easier for me to just complain about summer, stay indoors as much as possible, and pine away for autumn, but I'm trying my best to focus on making the most of summer, celebrating it and seeking the positive as much as I possibly can!