“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,” Henry James wrote.
Is that how you feel? If so, you better take time now to enjoy the rest of summer. The Fourth of July weekend has come and gone and we’re already halfway through the season.
If you read my blogs on happiness, you know I’m a big supporter of living in the present instead of stressing about the future or fretting about the past.
So, by all means, try and savor the remaining lazy days of carefree sunshine that lends itself to serenity and joy. This isn’t the time to start thinking about school clothes, college tuition, or forecasts for next winter. Take a deep breath, slow down, use all your senses, and notice the little things that can make a summer day special.
Here are a few ways to do that:
Take a Mini Vacation
With high gas prices and a recovering economy, many people are staying home this summer in place of a costly vacation. But that’s no reason to be depressed. Take a mini-road trip for a quick family getaway. For example, I live in the California desert, but in two hours or less I can drive to Big Bear and hike in the mountains, go sailing at the beach, or visit Los Angeles for some culture and night life. Visit a neighboring state, discover a new swimming spot, go camping, kayak in a lake, or take a leisurely scenic drive somewhere new and exciting. With hundreds of national and state parks across the country, chances are you don’t live far from one that is loaded with fun activities. One year, my husband and I realized that we had never been to the Channel Islands even though we had lived in California most our lives. One of the best weekend trips ever!
Learn a New Sport
Whether learning a certain sport was a childhood dream or something that catches your fancy as an adult, it’s never too late to learn a new sport. Of course, if you’re older, get medical clearance from your doctor, be safe, and use common sense. Maybe you’ll want to continue the excitement of the World Cup by joining an adult soccer league or try hockey or cricket. Take advantage of hiking and kayaking trips that combine physical activity with luxuries such as gourmet food and comfortable tents. Learn to surf, golf, mountain bike, or scuba dive. You’ll get into shape, learn new skills, increase your confidence, make new friends, and expand your horizons.
Connect with Nature
Of course, you may automatically think of going camping or hiking when you think of enjoying nature, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Visit a farm and pick your own fruit and veggies. Have a picnic by a stream. Buy a bird feeder or birdbath and watch birds come and go. Grab an easel and find a scenic spot. Build a potting bench, create an herb garden, or paint old patio furniture bright summer colors to enjoy nature in your own backyard. Get down on your knees with the grandkids and imitate their wonder and curiosity while examining an insect or a rock. Catch fireflies. Take note of the feel of grass beneath your feet, the smell of fragrant lavender, and the chorus of birds.
Make the choice to do less. Focus on what’s absolutely necessary and let go of the rest. Disconnect from technology. Eat slower. Live at a gentler pace. Create room for some delicious breezy nothingness. Refuse to look at clocks and watches. Go fishing, dance around the house, jump on a trampoline, paint, lie in a hammock, read a book, listen to soothing music, or take a leisurely stroll through the park. Learn a new barbecue recipe and enjoy a candlelit dinner al fresco. Sit quietly and enjoy a cold, yummy ice cream, milkshake, or smoothie. Brew a pot of sun tea and sip it slowly on the porch. Enjoy a slice of watermelon with a dash of salt. In other words, make time for the simple pleasures in life.
Spread a comfy blanket and look to the sky with your loved ones. Countless wonders await you on a clear summer night. A telescope is fun, but is not necessary to enjoy star gazing. You can see a galaxy two and a half million light-years away with your naked eye and craters on the moon with a simple pair of binoculars. Ransack your public library for books on astronomy basics and obtain detailed sky maps. You can learn the names of stars, constellations, along with a few fun myths. To see planets, start in the early evening. In the summer, Venus appears prominently in the western horizon right after sunset, and Jupiter is the second brightest object in the evening sky―just look south.
So there you go! Use a few of these tips to enjoy the remainder of summer. As Kenny Chesney croons in his song, “Summertime,” “It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!”