Earlier this summer my friend Riikka from the Daily Nothing lamented on Facebook about the loss of summer. She wrote:
Where are the lazy long summer lunches that turn into dinners? Where are the sunsets that secretly turn into sunrises? How about wild strawberries, barefoot hikes and dips in brilliantly blue lakes? Old-fashioned summers, where are you? I want you.
Her words struck a deep chord in me. I missed summer. And I wanted it back!
We all have our memories of summer, often longing for another time. After feeling exhausted from working non-stop this year, I decided to stop longing and start creating my summer. And even as the nights grow cooler and the sunsets earlier, we can still give ourselves the gift of fully living this time of year.
Here are some things I’ve learned about what brings me joy:
1. It’s not about the place
I plan vacations like some people plan their wedding. I’m constantly reading travel magazines, pulling out pictures, searching online for great deals. If I don’t have at least a week blocked out in my calendar six months ahead I feel anxious and stir crazy.
This year it was Mexico. In August, in a rented casita with a swimming pool, perched on a hillside, nestled in the jungle above the Pacific. The view was amazing, the solitude divine, and yet, there were times when I longed for my own bed, the familiarity of home, an air conditioner (it’s darned hot in Mexico in August!) and a lot less bugs.
We think we need to travel to exotic places for a vacation, but it’s not always the most relaxing. Sometimes all it takes is turning off the technology and sitting on the deck with a good book and a glass of iced tea. Find what helps you feel relaxed and rejuvinated.
Even just giving yourself an hour can make a big difference.
2. There’s no time like the present
I’m a horrible meditator and I’m always the one squirming on the floor in corpse pose at the end of yoga class. My brain is constantly racing ahead thinking about what’s next on my calendar, plotting and scheming for the future.
I realized I wasn’t enjoying my life because I wasn’t fully here.
The single most powerful practice I do is to bring myself fully into the present moment. I imagine gathering all the pieces of me back from where I’ve left them in my day and pulling them to me. Then I take all my scattered thoughts and bring them into a single point inside my head, and ask them to be still and quiet, even if just for a few moments. I can do this sitting in the car, or hanging out in a swimming pool. No meditation cushion or singing bowls required.
The peace this brings me is surprisingly powerful.
3. Relationships come first
I know this sounds obvious, but I doubt I’m the only one guilty of telling my niece, “just let me finish this one last email and then I’ll play Taboo with you” as she rolls her eyes and stomps out of the room.
I’ve been paying special attention to prioritizing the people I love with my time, and really enjoying that time spent, not thinking about what task it’s taking from me. I took the goal of spending more quality time with my husband this summer and it has helped our relationship immensely. We argue less, we laugh more and life just seems easier.
It takes conscious effort to focus on others – not just the logistical comings and goings of life – to really listen, be present and connect.
I hope this post inspires you to make the most of the summer – and beyond. Just yesterday evening (after writing this post) I had the opportunity to sit on my deck with my friend Riikka quoted above. We ate barbecue, drank Mojitos and reminisced about how good our summer had been so far!
As a coach and energy healer, Laura Gates helps her clients (executives, entrepreneurs and healers) connect with their soul’s purpose. You can find her at surrenderingtothesigns.com.