As a kid, summertime was my favorite part of the year. I played with my neighbor friends, went to swim lessons, and got to spend time with my Grandpa Otto and Grandma Mabel. For example, I have vivid memories of my grandparents picking me up at swim practice in their giant green Mercury sedan. I remember being in the pool floating around with my swim instructor and feeling so happy to see my grandparents.
I’d climb out of the pool and my Grandpa Otto would say something like, "Good job swimming, Punky!"
As an aside, my Grandpa Otto nicknamed me Punky after Punky Brewster. Punky was the main character in a television show that aired in the 1980s. When I stayed at my Grandparents house, we'd watch the show together. Whenever my Grandpa called me Punky, I smiled because he was in a playful mood.
I've been channeling the memories of playfulness this summer. I’ve been trying to play more often and worry less. To do this, I’ve been making time for the following activities:
Swimming. Over the last month, I've been swimming laps four or five times a week. I love swimming because it's a form of mediation (at least for me). When I swim, I count laps or say positive mantras. The deep breathing involved in swimming reminds me of yoga, except it's better. When I'm in the pool I feel weightless and my body doesn't hurt. Swimming is a hard workout, but it feels completely different from walking, running, or yoga.
Sadly, there are no year round pools in Yreka, CA (the closest town to my house). However, I'm not giving up swimming when the pool closes because it's helped me let go of anxiety. When the Yreka pool closes, I'm going to drive to Ashland, Oregon a few days a week to swim at the YMCA and I’m going to take advantage of the public library.
Doodling and drawing. A few weeks ago, I stepped outside my comfort zone and took an art class at the Ashland Art Center called "The Artist Within." The instructor, Jack Wiens, was fantastic! I learned the basics of drawing a face. I haven't drawn a face since I was a kid and it was fun. Plus, I’ve been doodling in my journal for the last month. Like swimming, doodling and has a meditative quality. I love it!
Work adventures. Lately, I've been feeling lonely. I've taken positive steps to address my loneliness. Once I have more clarity on this topic, I'll share an essay about my experience. For now, I will say that seeing a counselor and working outside of my house at libraries and coffee shops has been incredibly helpful. I've also been able to set up co-working dates with a friend and that’s made me feel less alone and more grounded.
Everyday adventures. Logan and I have been going on as many adventures as possible this summer. For example, on Sunday July 12, 2015, Logan and I celebrated our 12th year of marriage. We drove to Jacksonville, OR for an adventure. The trip wasn't planned and we weren't sure if we would stay the night or just take a day trip. Jacksonville is only an hour drive from our home, so a day trip would have been feasible, but we decided to pack an overnight bag in case we decided to stay the night.
Over coffee and beer, at Pony Espresso, we looked at a local map and price checked hotels on our smart phones. We found a great deal on Priceline and stayed at the Country House Inns. In addition to their main hotel, they have cute cottages near downtown Jacksonville. We stayed in a small cottage and it was perfect for us.
Also, we had fantastic food, beer, coffee, and ice cream while we were in Jacksonville. It was a real treat to eat at restaurants, but the best part of the trip was spending time with Logan. We walked all over the city, through the park, and had long talks about the future and the trajectory of our personal and professional lives. I'll share more about those talks on the blog soon.
What are you doing for fun this summer? Share your story in the comments section.
P. S. I’m teaching my online photography course—Everyday Magic: How to Capture Creative Images with Your Camera—this summer. The course begins on August 17, 2015 and runs for five weeks. I hope you’ll join me for the upcoming session! You can read the full course description here.