Simplifying For a Full Summer

I hold on all winter for spring to arrive, but I always feel the best in the summer.

In my mind, summer evokes a long, relaxing (and exciting at times!) season brimming with memories, experiences and learning. Summer months are about reconnecting with ourselves, revitalising, restoring, and growing after the winter.

Only in the past few years have I entered the adult, non-teaching world of working through the summer and I am still searching for the balance. Summer 2011 was wonderful as I had off a month during nice weather to graduate, enter into a civil partnership and show my dad around my adopted country. Last summer we visited the US but then returned to over a month of rain. Since my idea of summer at the time was a) not working and b) nice weather, the time spent in Scotland did not feel like much of a summer.

As June approaches each year, I dream about summer camp and daydream about spending almost all of my time outside. I used to sleep in a platform tent for three months. A floor and a roof with walls that could be rolled up as desired. Not only would this not work very well in Scotland (I would either be drenched or would have to zip up my mummy bag quite tight), I work all summer. When I have a week or so off, work mode does eventually melt away but I still crave the feeling of a *big* summer. I want to feel like I have had three months of summer, irrespective of temperature and weather, and thought about what else used to mark summers for me.
According to my 14 years at summer camp, summers should include: relaxing, meeting new people and making new friends, renewing old friendships, trying new things, making new things, learning enjoyable skills, being unplugged from distant obligations like emails and Facebook and focused on the actions where I am rather than of distant places, learning new songs/ideas, playing guitar, sharing ideas, skills, and experiences with those around me, being outside as much as possible, a small and simple wardrobe, simple communication (checking email every few weeks and being contactable by phone or letter), movies as an occasional treat, time with animals and nature, time for reflection, thinking and journaling…

So, what is my plan for the summer? How can I bring summer in to my life while still working?
1. Simplify things

-Deleted Facebook app on phone and ipad. I will only check it twice (maybe once!) a week. I used to rely on this website to stay in touch with family but all sisters text and 2/3 have facetime. My nieces also have their own phones to text and facetime and my nephews have access to phone calls through my sisters. I can also pick up the phone to call family and regularly write letters to my grandmom.

-Unsubscribed from 15 e-bulletins and newsletters so far because I stopped checking personal emails regularly due to an overload of emails I didn’t want to read. It should be easy to keep my current habit of only dipping in to emails once a week to check for urgent things. I may set an auto reply noting my infrequent readings.

– I will be packing away my ‘off season’ clothes and living with a smaller wardrobe (a la Project 333). This may not sound revolutionary for those of you living somewhere with distinct seasons, and I grew up doing the same, but Scotland’s climate removes the need to do this. Besides the one pair of shorts I keep in a ‘just in case’ box, most of my clothing has stayed out all year round. For 8 years. The fact is that there are some short sleeve shirts that I ignore all winter and a few (but certainly not all!) sweaters that I reach for last over the summer. I also miss the excitement of bringing out my fall wardrobe.

2. Refocus time on experiences and information I seek (vs. get bombarded by information I do not need).
– Learn a new skill
– Music…fill my time with more music
– Learn to make something old fashioned
– Connect more with friends
– Experience new things
– Do favourite activities or try new ones

Our summer planning will not be fully regimented, so here are some of the things that we have in so far:
June- we will each start learning something (a photography course for me, new activity for Honey), celebrate at a wedding, and go to a large concert.
July- party planning, BBQ/party, perhaps making something new (I have soap in my mind but am flexible)
August- a wedding, a short camping trip, visit family

I am looking forward to slowing down and listening to the songs of the blackbirds…



  1. Sounds like a nice list. Maybe you should add, “read your sister’s blog and comment.” Since I’ll try to give your glimpses of a PA summer! For your BBQ in July, try Nanny Florida’s barbecue sauce.

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