Dive into summer by doing less


By the time you read this the summer will officially be half over (at least in the Midwest where it seems to last for something like 15 minutes, give or take 10).

The question I want to ask you as you sit down to read this is this: Are you making sure you aren’t doing enough? Have you really embraced the vacation mindset and given yourself permission to let things go?

To-do projects

I know there is so much we want/need/have to do come summer — the projects, the yard work, the sports, travel and entertaining.  We want to try new things, follow old traditions, swim, sun, preen and prune and otherwise suck every last drop of summer’s nectar before the leaves inevitably turn.

I write this from a distinctly Midwestern perspective. For those of you to the South or West Coast, I guess you just lower the spf on the sunblock or put on a light sweater or something?

This week’s diatribe, er column, follows on last week’s pledge to enjoy the “Summer of Squalor” where we relax our standards and our hearts to enjoy our homes and ourselves where we are, not the level of perfection we sometimes feel the need to be.

Take the vow

This summer I think we should all vow to do less. Lower our standards, let some things (and some stress) go. Hurry less. Worry less. Give yourself the day off once in a while. Even if you can’t really take off work — be it at home or away, give yourself permission to relax. To do less. To NOT burn up the world — or the midnightoil if you can help it.

Give yourself permission during downtime to accomplish anything more than ice cream and a good book some days. Forego the vacuuming or the weed trimming and go pick berries instead.

Or better yet, don’t.

I know someone who after years of forced family fun, admitted that she was only going through the motions of U-pick berry picking because it made for cute pictures. Admitting that the only place she wanted to pick fruit was from the produce section of the supermarket was very freeing. Now they pass on the berry picking, but pick up berries for shortcake and sundaes nonetheless. I am assured they taste just as sweet without the side of stress.

It’s no fun to fake pleasure in something you don’t really enjoy at all. For some this may be gardening, al fresco dining, amusement parks, the zoo (my own personal “ugh”) or anything that ends up on a list of optional “summer fun” activities that you really don’t have — or want — to do.

Perfection is illusion

On that note, quit sweltering poolside while worrying about your figure (round IS a shape!). Pull on a swimsuit, toss off that cover up, and dive into summer.

When you are worried about what anyone thinks of you, let me hasten to assure you what my mama always told me when I got too big-headed for my teenage self. “When you are consumed with worry about what others think of you, you might be surprised to know how little they think of you AT ALL.”

In all my years of people watching, the only thought I’ve had when seeing someone less than supermodel status (almost all of us) in a bathing suit is “You go, girl!” (Or guy). Get out there and make a splash — no matter your age or size.

Seize the day

Let’s take a moment to embrace doing less. Sit on the porch, the stoop or just a blanket on a patch of beach or grass. Get your feet wet. Don’t paint the porch. Let the grass get a smidge higher if it means having fun instead.

Cook out — or don’t. Take out or a few slices of watermelon are tasty too. Sing out loud with the car windows down. Blow bubbles. Chase an ice cream truck. Draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

Log out of Pinterest and give yourself permission to NOT “impress your guests,” to just be average. Be satisfied tossing chips in a bowl, don’t clean the house, and invite friends over anyway.

Summer goes by so fast. If you blink you miss it. Sit down. Put your feet up. Let your quest to “do it all,” like ice cream, melt away. Dive into summer by doing … less.

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