10 Essential Rules for Summer
I will readily admit that my life right now (in summary: no school, no work, house-with-pool) probably does not completely resemble yours (summary guess: real adult responsibilities). As of this writing, I have been out of school for a full month and do not start my full-time job for five weeks. However, as I enjoy the rare time off and get a front row seat to summer, I have felt compelled to create 10 essential rules for summer that anyone can follow, anywhere, anytime. These are rules that do not require the life of child-like, responsibility-free, constant-sun-infused glee I am currently living. The list:
1. Wear Flip Flops Where Possible
This is important. My research shows that 18% of adult stress comes from having to awkwardly sit, kneel, bend over, wrestle, and tie shoes in the morning. You get to completely skip that step and also completely ignore your sock drawer. Your feet will thank you, especially if they are used to being bear hugged by socks in the 80-degree summer heat.
2. Shower Less
You are obviously exempt from this rule if you have an important job that requires you to “be inside” and “dress up” and “attend meetings” and “not smell like campfire all day.”
3. Eat Watermelon
It will not feel like summer until you do.
4. Get Yourself Near Water
I know this blog is called “Laugh, Cry, Think” and I enjoy the occasional joke, but I’m not effing around here. Get yourself in proximity to water ASAP. This rule doesn’t discriminate, for those who live in Ann Arbor, St. Louis, Budapest, or anywhere else not very close to a big lake. Find a neighbor’s pool, a river, or swamp. Shoot, fill up your damn tub and sip some Vitamin D if you have to.
If you are going to the beach, bring sunglasses and a towel – try not to overpack, this experience is not meant to be a stressor – and bask in the beautiful rays and cool waters. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to do anything. You don’t even need to get in the water if you don’t want to (though it is highly recommended and let’s be honest, you probably will). Just lay there, soak in the sun, and talk with the person you’re there with. Leave your phone in the car. Watch how the waves effortlessly roll in, how the sun brightens them, and how the triangled sailboats rest their hypotenuses on the horizon as they relax, just like you.
5. Watch Movies
Summer nights are perfect for cozying up, heating up some popcorn or scooping ice cream, and tossing in a movie. (This phrase, I’m told, is outdated. The new phrase will henceforth be streaming up a movie.) We made a watch list and have it on display in our living room as a reminder, crossing off each movie as we watch it. Check out a movie you’ve seen a million times and makes you smile (recommendation: The Sandlot), movies people yell at you because you haven’t seen (For me, it was The Sound of Music), or queue up a list of classic Spielberg movies like we did (So far, the Jurassic Park series and Jaws). No matter how you stream up the room, you’ll be happy you did.
6. You Do Not Need an Excuse to Get Outside
Here are a few, though, in case you’re the kind of person who fancies excuses: You need to get the mail. You think you left something in your car. You want to inspect the grass. The dog might have run away. We need to walk the dog. The dog stole my homework and is outside. You want to test out some “flat earth” hypotheses. I don’t care. Especially if you live in Michigan, when you look outside and see the blue sky and can walk outside in shorts and your newly minted flip flops, DO IT. And if it’s raining, get out and dance.
7. Go Out for Ice Cream
This is a hobby that is inexpensive, fun, and obviously delicious. We were at the world famous The Cone Shoppe on Michigan & Fuller (you know the place). Two high school girls were being turned away because they didn’t have any cash. As they turned to leave, the woman behind us stopped them and told them she’d pay for them. She said it like it was obvious, almost as if she was scolding them. Get back up there! I’ve got you! I’ll be darned if Kendahl and I weren’t almost tearing up right then and there. Beautiful things happen when ice cream is involved.
8. Ride as Many Roller Coasters As You Can
Cedar Point, America’s Rockin’ Roller Coast, is one of the three greatest things about Ohio (along with LeBron and the fact that a lot of my family members live there). As a side note, the Fast Pass is super expensive but the absolute best investment you could ever make. If you can’t get to Cedar Point, there are Six Flags everywhere, everybody seems to go to Disney World all the time, and there’s even a little figure-8 roller coaster at Craig’s Cruisers in Grand Rapids. There is really nothing that says Summer is here! like going down a huge drop, trying to keep your hands up in the air, wondering where your stomach is, and screaming and laughing with the person next to you. If you get dizzy, a Ferris Wheel or even having someone pull you on a wagon for a couple of blocks will do.
9. Chuck the To-Do List
Man, I’m writing this one for myself more than anything. I’m a very task-oriented person, extremely motivated by having goals. And I think goals are good. But I’m learning this summer, in new and amazing ways, how to enjoy some quiet time without always having to “win the day,” without having a million things to accomplish and tick off and get done. I totally get that this one is hard to do, much easier said than done. So at least consider what’s necessary and what truly isn’t, allow yourself to get away from screens (once you’re done reading this, of course), and enjoy some time to let your soul rest.
10. Dare Greatly
Here I refer to Brené Brown, a researcher whose work on shame and vulnerability led to the writing of her book Daring Greatly, which I have been devouring in that slow sort of way because you really need to stop and chew on things and let the work seep into your brain. Brown argues for the importance of being vulnerable, talking about the things we’re ashamed of, and what she terms “wholeheartedness.” It’s absolutely fantastic.
One quote I want to share with you, which embodies the tenth and final summer rule, is about having the courage to create something and sharing it with the world:
Sharing something that you’ve created is a vulnerable but essential part of engaged and Wholehearted living. It’s the epitome of daring greatly. But because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you’ve knowingly or unknowingly attached your self-worth to how your product or art is received. In simple terms, if they love it, you’re worthy; if they don’t, you’re worthless.
Rule ten, then, should apply to every season: dare greatly. Go buy the book and learn about yourself. Create something you’ve always wanted to create, put it out to the world, and know that you are deeply valued and worthy regardless of the result. That truth hit me like a ton of beautiful bricks and I hope it meets you, today, in the same way.