In 1985, summer meant biting into half-moon watermelon slices so big that juice trickled down my cheeks. It meant running through the sprinklers, getting double scoops of ice cream and slathering Bain de Soleil, with a whopping SPF 4, on my belly, then baking in the sun. A typical June day for my best friend, Julie, and me would include riding our bikes several miles to the Hollandia Dairy, where we would buy Jolly Rancher Fire Stix, returning home, each with only one arm on our respective handlebars, as we licked our treats until the wrappers were glued to our fists. We’d don swimsuits and spend hours in her above-ground pool, then collapse on the couch with nacho cheese Doritos to watch Days of Our Lives. We played her Atari. We built forts with her couch cushions and jumped over them. We roller skated in her cul-de-sac. The days were long, the possibilities endless. Summer meant no school, few responsibilities, freedom and fun.
Then I grew up.
As an adult, my summer days generally look like any other: a decent workout in the morning, then I spend the balance of the day in front of my laptop. Responsibility seems to preclude summer freedom, and these days, fun can require planning. This is not always the case, but the tires on my bike are flat and the pool now requires a reservation, so you get my point. With a mortgage to pay, a lawn to mow and a list of a gazillion other things to tackle, who has the time? These commitments are weighty; still, there are opportunities being missed if we ignore the invitation that summer offers. My rationalizations keep me running like the Jetsons family dog, Astro, on the responsibility treadmill; yet we can step off, slow down and find ways to savor life. Long days and glorious evenings beckon.
This is your permission slip.
What defines summer for you? It could be as simple as a backyard barbecue or sipping wine under the stars. You need not take time off to embrace the season, but if you have the days, give yourself the green light to take PTO. Plan your fun or embrace spontaneity—even (or especially) around the margins of a workday. Here are a few ideas:
- Go tent camping or camp in your backyard
- Visit a Farmer’s Market, your local pool or the zoo
- Make s’mores under the stars
- If you are in Colorado, hike a 14er or the Manitou Incline
- Make a pie and have friends over for dessert and game night
- Set up a Slip ’N Slide in your yard or have a water balloon fight
- Eat outside every night the weather allows
- Go for an early morning walk and watch the sunrise
- Take the day off and ride roller coasters at Elitch Gardens
- Go to a drive-in movie, go geocaching or try paddle-boarding
- Eat: Corn on the cob, watermelon, fro-yo or fresh peaches
- Play: Cornhole, tag, capture the flag or have a scavenger hunt
- Toss a Frisbee with your kids or your dog
- Hopscotch, jump rope or play Hide and Seek (especially fun with adults)
- Make an impromptu evening run to Dairy Queen for a chocolate dipped cone
- Drive with the sunroof open and music blasting
- Watch fireworks on July 4th
- Have a picnic, plant a garden (or a tree) or ride bikes
- Build a fort out of your couch and camp in your living room
- Make root beer floats (Have your kids had one?)
- Put down your phone and turn your computer off at 5pm
- Read a fun fiction book or nap in a shady spot
- Make strawberry shortcake with lots of whipped cream
- Make sun tea and homemade lemonade.
The ideas are limitless, but these warm summer days are not. Soon enough, the kids will be back in school and the days will be shorter, colder. Adding more joy to your life might even be a catalyst for renewed creativity and focus in your professional life. So, seize summer. As my sister recently quipped, “the world will not come crashing down if you get a slushie and sit by the pool.” Who knows? You might just have a summer as unforgettable as 1985.
Celeste Palermo is Senior Director, Human Resources at Newmont Corporation and author of two books. You can visit her at www.celestepalermo.com
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