We all dream of the perfect summer. Who doesn’t want to spend sunny days and balmy nights chilling on the beach with a nice cool drink? But day to day life doesn’t hit pause just because the sun shines (or not!). Summer is more than just a holiday. So, why not design your summer and pack it full of all the fun things you mean to get around to, but never quite do?
Design Your Summer:
Intentionally Creating The Summer of Your Dreams
I don’t know about you, but every year when Summer rolls back around I have a lot of good intentions about making the most of the light nights and good weather. However, somewhere between waiting for the weekend and actually getting out and enjoying myself I usually end up reverting back to the same old habits. Which involve getting home from work and watching re-runs of bad police dramas….
This summer, thanks to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast ‘Happier‘, I’m determined to see more, do more and generally try my hardest to soak up whatever good weather we get here in England. If you haven’t listened to Happier before, I highly recommend it. Her upbeat style is inspiring, without being condescending, and each post is packed with tips for ways to be, yep, you guessed it, happier!
In one episode she talks about how to make the best of the summer months. To do so she came up with the idea of ‘Design Your Summer’. Wouldn’t it be fun, she mused, to intentionally focus on a few things this summer that would make you genuinely happier? This resonated with me. I think we all struggle to find the time to do things we really enjoy but adding a few extras in wouldn’t be too hard would it? So I decided to take the ‘Design Your Summer’ challenge, and I’m hoping you will too!
Now for the good bit, it’s LIST TIME!
Obviously your perfect summer will look a little different to mine, but hopefully you’ll get a good idea of the concept behind Design Your Summer’ and use it to inspire your own!
Stop and Smell The Roses
Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in while you might miss it
What: This one is inspired by my favourite film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. There’s something about Summer that makes me want to stop and appreciate everything a bit more. Maybe it’s because I’m not so focused on staying warm that I don’t rush from A to B like I do in the winter months. Either way, one of my goals for this summer is to take time to appreciate the simple things, like sitting in the park with a good book, or walking the dog on an evening.
How: I think this one can be broken down into a few different points:
- Walk The Dog on Sunny Evenings: There’s pretty much nothing happier than my dog. Especially when she realises that she’s going on a walk. She jumps about and practically skips out the door. And the thing is, that kind of happiness is infectious. I know I’ve made her day and in the process my mood is lifted too. Unfortunately for Skye, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to taking her for a walk. But this summer I’m going to try and go out on sunny evenings for a little jaunt.
- Step Away From Technology One Evening a Week: Pretty self explanatory. As great as technology is, it’s pretty distracting. One evening a week I’m going to try and step away from the screen and do something else. So, no Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest…wait, this is supposed to make me happier right?!
Have a Holiday at Home
What: This kind of goes hand in hand with the first goal. When you live in a place for a while, it’s easy to forget about all the great things that are nearby. The kind of things that tourists actually pay money to see but are on your doorstep and ignored for years! So, this year I’m going to take a holiday at home and try and see my hometown with a fresh pair of eyes. I think it will be fun to play tourist among all the familiar sights!
How: I’m going to tackle this the same way I would if I was visiting somewhere for the first time, research! Try looking up your hometown on Trip Advisor and see what comes up, you might be surprised to find out there’s a food festival, or a cool museum you’ve never even noticed before.
Seize The Day
What: One thing that Gretchen Rubin continually advocates is searching for ways to make yourself happier. With this in mind I realise that I need to work on seizing the day. Summer is the perfect time to get out and try things. In England, it seems like tonnes of interesting things happen during the summer, like food festivals, film festivals, street fairs, open air theatre (it’s Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary after all), the list goes on.
So, one thing I want to focus on is getting myself out there and experiencing it. I am someone who likes a routine and I find myself making silly rules like: ‘I won’t have time to relax if I go out twice in a weekend’ but the more I think about it, the more I realise that there’s nothing more relaxing than having fun!
How: I’ll give you an example: Usually if someone messaged me and said, let’s go to an open air production of the Importance of Being Earnest on a Sunday evening my first thought would be ‘no’. Followed by, ‘definitely not’. Not because I don’t enjoy theatre, but because I don’t want to be tired on a Monday. But with ‘seize the day’ and ‘design your summer’ fresh in my mind, I realise the answer should be YES!
So, when my friend asked that exact question recently, I briefly considered ‘no’ and then quickly replaced it with ‘Definitely, I’ve always wanted to see an Oscar Wilde play.’ Because I have always wanted to, instead of worrying about being tired I am going to go an see it. Seize the day!
Wake Up Earlier
What: This is something I’ve been working on for quite some time. Those who know me well are probably chuckling at my determination to wake up earlier. I have always been fond of sleeping, I can nap almost anywhere! This year though, I noticed that I naturally wake up earlier, only to hit snooze countless times. Unsurprisingly I feel worse after dozing past my alarm, since it messes with my natural body clock. A lot of ‘feel happier/get more from your day posts suggest waking up earlier. They can’t all be wrong and I don’t know about you but I feel like I can practically conquer the world before 10am if I’ve been up at 6.30 (ok. 7.00) (ok. fine 7.15)
How: There’s a great website called sleepyti.me that helps you work out the optimum time to wake up based on when you fall asleep. It also has a handy guide to help you work out when you should go to sleep if you need to get up at a specific time. It’s based on sleep cycles, and I’m already noticing a difference in how alert I feel when I wake up, if I set my alarm from the suggested time.
Finish That Craft Project (Finally)
What: So here’s the thing, I’ve got this cross stitch project that I’ve been working on for a while (read years) now. We’ve all been there right? It’s almost three quarters finished but it’s been languishing on the ‘to be finished’ pile for too long. I’ll be so happy when I can finally frame it and hang it on the wall, but somehow I never have the motivation to get all the equipment out. So this summer I am finally going to finish it.
How: stitch, stitch, stich. Possibly a good use of my technology free evening?
Plan a Hike
What: One of the best things about where I live is that I can be from city to countryside in a matter or minutes. But do I take advantage of this much? Not really. The thing is, I really love going on long walks when I’m on holiday, so I thought, why not do this at home? It’s a great way to incorporate fitness into my summer routine and is actually something I really enjoy doing. Which is a bonus.
How: My local library has a section for travel guides and I noticed that one of the books on the shelf was about different walks to take in the area. I’m going to check this out and plan a route, then cajole someone into coming along with me. If I can’t cajole anyone I’ll bribe my sister with promises of visits to Krispy Kreme! So what I’m saying is, I might hike to Krispy Kreme…
Try New Foods
What: After reading, eating good food is probably my favourite thing to do. I love trying out new recipes and exploring different
cultures through their cuisine. But despite that, I still find that I am slightly reserved when it comes to trying certain types of
food. For years you couldn’t pay me to eat a mushroom, but now I love them. With that in mind, I’m eager to expand my culinary horizons and try food which I might previously have avoided.
How: I’ve already started this one. I’ve just returned from a road trip through France. And since France is the home of kind of strange food choices (umm hello Frog’s Legs!) I decided to just go for it and try food I would usually run a mile from. Like these Lyonnaise sausages, called Andouillette, which were made from Tripe (really) and weren’t half as bad as I thought they would be. Eeek!
And that’s it! You may have noticed that I don’t included a specific goal to read during my ‘design your summer’ challenge. That’s because, as you may have guessed from the fact you’re on this blog, reading is something I do all the time! I really wanted to focus on extra things when I was creating the list.
So, to round up my ‘Design Your Summer’ looks like this:
Stop and smell the roses
Have a holiday at home
Wake up earlier
Finish that craft project
Plan a hike
Try new foods
What does your dream summer look like? Will you take the ‘Design your Summer’ challenge?
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