Since I work (or play, rather) at a school, my year is highly cyclical…and I love it. Because of my schedule, I get two big opportunities each year to refocus and think about my goals–New Year’s and Back-to-School. I know I’m not the only one; our culture tends to shake itself from a dreamy summer and gather up its plans at this time of year. If you feel discouraged that the summer got away from you (and I think most of us get a little melancholy right around the end of August), here are a few ways I’ve found to redeem the sweet last few days of summer:
Think back to the spring. When confronted with the idea of a whole, unspoiled season full of possibilities, what excited you? What were you most anticipating? Was it rest and relaxation, or did the prospect of adventure entice you? Whatever inspires you most about summer, hone in on that feeling. Try to get it refined down to one word, if you can. Rest. Outdoors. Peace. Un-hurried. Concerts. Vacation. Family.
Once you find your essential summer vibe, you’ll use it to be the theme of this week. I know; sounds uptight, right? Thinking hard about anything is so un-summery. But give it a try. You’re only risking a few days.
The key is to be honest about what’s possible. Take the theme you chose and think about the time you have to spend this week. If there’s something you can cut out, such as recurring meetings or routines, consider skipping them for a few days’ redemption. Your goal is to take your theme and add a little sweetness to each day. If you have extra free time on Labor Day weekend, try to go as big as you want. For example, if my theme is ‘adventure’, I’m going to pick one night to take my sweetheart to the next town over to try a new restaurant and take a stroll along the river. Another evening, I might watch the stars come out while I swing on the porch by the light of citronella candles. Mid-week, we can have a stay-at-home crock pot dinner but invite our most hilarious friends over for a movie and s’mores night. I could incorporate a little adventure during lunch breaks, too. (I work with teenagers. Adventure? Be serious. I’m never looking for adventure during lunch…) Then, over the long weekend, we’d take the mountain bikes to a trail we haven’t had a chance to ride this year. You don’t have to invest in an elaborate vacation to experience the feeling of a get-away.
‘But,’ you think, ‘Cole doesn’t know my work schedule. Plus, my kids are back to school already, so the summer’s over…’ Well, it’s not going to be a perfect summer week, but you can still have a massive amount of fun, regardless of your circumstances. Summer is only 12 weeks long, really. Add in weddings, reunions, birthdays, and holidays, and it’s already pretty full. So, if it slipped past you, that’s normal. The people posting amazing photos to social media haven’t had one smooth, uninterrupted summer, either. Those are moments, and you can make some, too. What’s not normal is to make the most of the time you can control.
If tough situations derailed your summer plans, you can still have the feeling of rest and easy fun that we all yearn for. Cut your losses, be sweet to yourself and plan a little treat this week. Good luck, summer-lovers!