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I love the change of seasons; each brings its own discoveries and blessings. But there’s something about the relaxed expanse of time during the summer months that makes it different. Summer begs to be enjoyed. Its promise of adventure rejuvenates my spirit. Taking in new experiences, being exposed to new sights and ideas, that is what fills me up. I return to my work world feeling renewed. So here are some thoughts that came to me as I considered the promise of summer jaunts. Maybe it will inspire you to think outside the box when planning your summer fun.
Discover what’s in your own backyard
We often think finding adventure requires going far afield. But that’s not true. We simply have to see the world through the eyes of a child and fully appreciate the places before us. A hike through Overton Park or Elmwood Cemetery can hold many discoveries, if we slow down and tune in to our surroundings.
My son and I used to take bike rides around our neighborhood on summer afternoons, stopping in at the bakery for a donut, the Goodwill store for a small toy, and the library for a book to read. What made those trips better was when I could let go of time and relish our discoveries without rushing on to the next event. It was freeing. When my son got older, I couldn’t wait to show him the beach I’d discovered at Shelby Forest or take him canoeing into the soaring cypress swamp where we could hear the birds call and catch our reflection in the still, inky water.
Have you been to these places? They’re all here, right in our own backyard.
Allow yourself to dream
I read an amazing book last summer by an Irish travel writer, Dervla Murphy. Here was a woman with a wonderful curiosity about the world. When she was a young girl growing up in Dublin, her parents would read her stories from The Arabian Nights. Those eloquent tales, set in the exotic, fragrant settings of Persia and South Asia, kindled her imagination.
So, at age 10, Dervla determined she would someday ride her bike from Ireland to India.
Can you imagine? What would you say to your child if she shared such a dream? What’s more, at age 31, Dervla did just that. She started her trek in mid-January 1963, a single woman cycling alone into the coldest winter Europe had experienced in 80 years.
How audacious! And yes, she made it to India later that summer.
I share this to encourage you to dream. Don’t put limits on that dream; give yourself permission to be audacious. Speak of your dream; say it out loud, since talking about ideas gives them weight. Then promise yourself that you’ll begin taking small steps toward making your dream become a reality. Set a date, begin a savings fund, tell a friend about your dream; just do something tangible that acknowledges you will keep this promise to yourself.
Back when my son was a teenager, one of my friends talked about a cross-country driving vacation she was taking with her family. I was so envious! Our family took road trips when I was growing up. Yet, as a single parent, the thought of driving across the country alone with my son seemed too big, too undoable. How could I drive that by myself? But the more I thought about it, the more I came to believe that was exactly what I needed to do.
So after some planning, my son and I took off to visit family and friends in the Southwest, our trip culminating in a hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a vacation of firsts. Most importantly, I gave myself permission to make my dream become a reality. That is something I shall always treasure.
Let your children plan afternoon getaways
Kids are so used to having no control over their lives that we forget how much they’re taking in. Sit down and ask them how they would like to spend a Saturday afternoon. Be reasonable about your limits, but let them set the agenda. Maybe they can put together a picnic of their favorite foods and determine where it should be eaten: in the backyard, at a local splash park, at a picnic area at the Zoo. Instead of saying no, let yes be the watchword of the day.
Summer is expansive. Dare to dream.