Monday, August 18, 2014

104 Days // How to Have the Best Summer Vacation Ever

Today I was a faced with a harsh reality.  School starts in a week.  Seven days, 200ish hours, and I'll be a senior in high school instead of a junior in summer. While I intend to make the most of those 200ish hours, they're still going to be gone about 200ish hours from now, and the problem is that I'm kind of in love with this summer and I'm not ready for it to end.  What about all the DIYs we were going to make together, summer?  All the farmer's market visits?  All the bike rides and warm, late nights?  I get the feeling that this is one of those breakups that's going to have a messy ending, complete with pints of ice cream and chick flicks galore.  I'm just too attached. 

It's going to be rough letting it go, but I am so, so glad that it happened!  Aren't you?  Isn't it great to get so attached to summer that you can't stand it coming to an end?  I've deliberately spent lots of hours being relaxed and happy; I'm convinced that summering is an art.  So, as summer's ending, let's look back at what made it so fantastic and maybe even prepare ourselves for an even better one next year.  Ready?

Create a routine . . . 

I know that's the most counter intuitive thing I could ever say, but
trust me on this one.  Without school to schedule my life, I can find myself slacking on things that are important to me, like spending time with God or exercising.  The summer is full of hours and hours and hours of free time, and I want to make sure I can get everything out of it that I possibly can!  I usually wake up and eat breakfast right away, then do my devotion and finish with some exercise.  That way, all the important stuff is done first and I'm sure to get it in.  

. . . but don't be afraid to break it. 

That being said, there were days this summer when I woke up at the beach or in a tent or at a friend's house and things did not go according to my usual routine.  That's okay!  There has to be room for spontaneity and fun without stressing about the schedule, so be prepared for that, too.  Sleep late if you need it; skip the workout in favor of a day on the lake.  Letting loose is just as important as getting things done.  

Challenge yourself.  

Every summer, I make a list of things that I want to do. (I talked about that more and shared this summer's list here .)  Some of the items are easily accomplished and are pretty much guaranteed to happen, but a lot of them are goals that I'll have to work towards.  For example, I had a goal to complete a blog challenge which lead to me successfully posting every day for a month during the Blog Everyday in July Challenge - I've never, ever blogged that consistently before!  I've found that the most rewarding things that I do each summer are the challenges.  I love the feeling of stretching myself further than I thought I could go before, whether it's a success or not.  Whether it's running your first 5k, learning to bake something fancy and shipping some to me, or learning another language, make a goal to do something completely new and see where it goes!  It's exciting.  

Focus on people. 

I used the break from my usual task-oriented school and sports routine as an opportunity to really focus on my relationships this year.  I find that in the midst of all the tasks that the school year assigns, such as a killer research paper or a faster 800 meter time, I can let people fade into the background.  That's really sad!  This summer I put a lot of energy into breaking that habit; for me, that meant doing things like responding to texts right away, shooting hoops with my brother rather than reading a book, or inviting someone to do something with me that I'd normally do by myself.  It's been great!  For you, focusing on people might mean throwing dinner parties or putting down your phone during a conversation.  Okay, maybe I could work on that, too. However you do it, focusing on the people in your life will build relationships and really great memories along the way!

But don't forget to spend time alone! 

No, wait!  It's not a contradiction!  Having some time off from school - and being surrounded by the same people 24 / 7 - can be very eye-opening.  It doesn't have to be hours each day, but spending a little time alone each week can help me to reset.  Some of my favorite ways to spend along time are walking, bike riding, reading a book or journaling.  It all gives me a chance to think and to clear my head and to figure things out.  You know . . . things.  I love my friends, but I really relish the chance to grow as an individual as well.  Besides that, alone time gives me the energy I need to interact with people, because #introvert!  Maybe you're the most people - y people person that ever way, but I'm a firm believer that pretty much anyone can benefit from a quiet afternoon spent getting a pedicure or something. 

Appreciate the little things. 

A rainy afternoon spent playing iSpy from the garage.  Long talks with my grandma.  Family vacations and neighbors around the campfire.  Doesn't that make you happy?  During the crush that occurs between September and June, it's next to impossible to stop and appreciate the little things that add up to make life great, because computer research and too-late nights do not qualify as some of those little things.  Realize that your summer doesn't have to be full of far-flung travels and outlandish adventures to be great, because the simple stuff might just be what you end up appreciating the most.  I mean, just writing that list made me long for another 23984 days of summer.  Not that that takes much.

Enjoy yourself. 

If these rules cause you stress, chuck them out. Summer is supposed to be fun!  Whatever you do, it's most important that you're enjoying your life, and I'm confident that you can figure out what that is.  These little guidelines have worked pretty well for me; customize them with what you love and you should be golden!

Happy summer!


What was fantastic about your summer? And, while you're at it, just how did you make your summer so great?

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