12 Ways to Take a Small, Daily Vacation This Summer to Let Your Soul Sing

Self on 06.13.11
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Photo Credit: Katie Morton

When I was a teenager, my summers as a sun-worshipping lifeguard were simply glorious. Summer was unequivocally my season and I couldn't get enough of the sunshine and the swimming pool. The hotter the summer, the better; heat waves made me feel happy and alive. My uniform was a bathing suit, so if I felt a little warm, I would just hop in the pool to cool off. No problem.

Each morning, I swam for an hour with the swim team, and then I sat on the lifeguard stand all day long. Those were the days before anyone stressed much about sunscreen and skin cancer, so my long days of worry-free sun exposure were marked by all of the pleasure, and none of the guilt. Speaking of all pleasure and no guilt, I could also eat fried chicken sandwiches for lunch and ice cream novelties for snacks and never gain an ounce.

Being an Adult Sucks Sometimes

Once my lifeguarding days were over, summer became bleaker and more depressing by the year. My college summers were spent inside a frigid, air conditioned bank. My wardrobe involved claustrophobia-inducing suit jackets and itchy panty hose, and my soul-crushing job consisted of serving snitty bank customers while standing on my feet all day in heels. I began to carefully measure my food intake due to my new waistline-destroying, caged lifestyle.

From my last summer as a lifeguard to the next, I went from being a feral water-treading, ice-cream sandwich scarfing, sun-soaking, free-living beast to being a declawed, domesticated, prune-nibbling indoor cat. Summer had morphed from a dazzling, carefree and fabulous time into a bleak life sentence where seasons were irrelevant from inside the prison of adulthood.

After college I went straight into the 365-day-a-year working world, and predictably, nothing improved. I thought 2009 was the most pathetic summer I would ever have. I rotted every weekday in an interior office, only seeing the sunshine from inside my car on my commute home, once the days grew long enough. It rained every single weekend, except the weekend we moved. That day it was 100 degrees and 10,000% humidity while we hauled boxes in the punishing and blistering sun for 12 hours. I started to hate summer.

My Worst Summer to Date

It turns out the summer of 2010 would do me one worse. Last summer, I was pregnant with my first child. As if my family planning (or presumed lack thereof) is everyone's business, I caught more obnoxious flak for being pregnant in the summer. In case you haven't heard, pregnant women get hot. Ha ha. I get it.

I felt so indignant at all the, "Boy, you didn't think that one through!" jokes, that it never occurred to me to tell them that summer babies tend to have higher bone density throughout their entire lives due to all that wonderful Vitamin D mom soaks up. Instead, if one more person acted like I was the biggest moron ever to have lived for having a summer baby, I was going to viciously stab someone in the butt with a plastic spork.

Pregnant or not, summer was still irrelevant. Between my full-time job, weekly migraines and the horrendous lung infection I picked up when the woman on line in front of me at the Post Office turned around and coughed squarely on all three of my breathing holes, I hardly left the house except to go to work. I might as well have spent last summer in a coma - a strict indoor coma, not the fun outdoor kind - because that's how much of the season I got to experience.

Then after I had the baby, I continued to never leave the house. Last summer was one big interior climate-controlled summer sensory deprivation chamber. It was entirely wasted on me.

This Is the Year I Turn it Around and Take Summer Back

This summer, I am done being an indoor cat. I am going to suck the marrow from the bones of summer, if summer were an edible carcass. What I mean is that I am going to Carpe Diem, or seize the day! Yes, I am ripping off that movie Dead Poets Society in a poor manner! Robin Williams, eat your heart out.

This Summer I Will...

Summer provides us the opportunity to indulge in luxuries and decadences that won't go to our thighs, won't make a grab for our wallets, and won't make us feel morally bankrupt or guilty. This summer I am going to soak up every summer perk every single day and every way I know how.

Here is a list of summer sensations I will indulge in. This summer I will:

  1. Eat breakfast outside on the balcony each morning.
  2. Sit outside on the balcony for the occasional pre-dinner cocktail with my husband.
  3. Start using the balcony more often when we eat dinner.
  4. Dine al fresco at restaurants when my husband and I have our date nights. (Yes, I'm a huge fan of being outside while I eat.)
  5. Go swimming each day the opportunity presents itself. I refuse to let "not getting my hair wet" serve as a lame excuse to stop me.
  6. Enjoy feeling the sun on my skin. I might even wear a bikini in public, regardless of whether I "should" or not.
  7. Continue my daily walks with my daughter, moving her from the carrier into the stroller as she gets heavier and the days get hotter.
  8. Stop to smell the roses and enjoy the lush greenery of the season, even if it's just noticing how green the trees are on the side of a highway. I'm also going to try and keep the petunia on my balcony alive.
  9. Go on weekend hikes and nature walks in the woods.
  10. Breathe in the summer smells: BBQs, the ocean, suntan lotion, the noxious off-gassing of a new beach ball.
  11. Enjoy the summer sounds: the birds chirping in the morning, the crickets chirping at night, and choosing to be fond of the shrill noises from the frenzied kids playing and splashing all day long in the community pool.
  12. Wear floppy hats and big sunglasses, and flip flops with shorts, skirts and sundresses every chance I get.

This summer isn't going to get away from me. I essentially plan to take a small, daily vacation without necessarily going anywhere. It's going to require a minimum of effort; I need to be aware of the chances I have to take in this glorious summer season.

Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.

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