Start being present this summer

By Dani

It seems to be this way every year—one morning I wake up and it’s suddenly summer. Everything seems once again alive and moving. I’m relieved for the sunshine and the cleansing rain of an afternoon thunderstorm.

As I was walking my dog this morning it occurred to me that, as much as I think I’m enjoying the summer, I haven’t really been taking advantage of it the way I should be. I haven’t been embracing the moment. I still find myself inside participating in activities much more suited to the winter months—watching movies, baking, spending hours on the computer. It’s not that these things don’t have value, but it’s time for me to stop thinking about the beauty of summer and start actually enjoying it. Here’s what I’m going to do to start being present this summer:

1. Go outside as often as possible. This can be a tough one for me, as I love being on the computer. (I’m still not sure why they haven’t fixed the glare issue on laptops and iPads so I can take them outdoors and actually see them.) However, being on the computer outside isn’treally being present in the summer, and I’m going to make a big effort this summer—starting today!—to spend as much time outdoors as I can.

2. Pay attention to the little things. When I’m outdoors, I’m going to make an extra special effort to pay attention to the little things. I’m already pretty good at this—noticing the new buds on plants, spotting an unusual flower or insect—but this summer I’m going to pay attention even more to the small things around me. I’m a big fan of using my visual sense, but I’m going to start paying attention with all five senses to really get in touch with the season of summer.

3. Stop rushing and slow down. One of the reasons I struggle to enjoy the season is because I’m often in a rush. I have work, plans, things to cross off of my to-do list. Even on the weekends, I’m often “busy” with something I feel I must get done. If I really want to enjoy summer, I must slow down and stop rushing. I need to start slowing down and allowing myself a chance to be fully in the now.

4. Learn the names of plants/ animals. It’s occurred to me more than once that I have no idea what some of the plants or animals are around my building. I’ve lived in the same zip code for most of my life and yet I don’t know the names of some of the trees I see every single day. I always say I should learn what they are, but I never have. This summer I’m going to finally figure it out. Going through the process of learning more about my environment will certainly help me to be more present.

5. Bring the summer inside. I cannot tell you how many times my mom has come over to my apartment and said to me, “Why don’t you open those windows? Get some fresh air in here!” I usually shake my head and tell her defiantly that I don’t wantfresh air. But why not? Fresh air is probably the very thing I need and there are so few days I can actually open the windows and let the air in. This summer I’m going to start opening windows, start letting the sounds and smells and sights of summer indoors.

* * *

Being present any time of year is a struggle for me (which is the very reason I started this Positively Present!), but it’s a skill I’m striving to improve. When winter comes around again, I don’t want to find myself once again wishing that I’d enjoyed the warmer months more. This year I’m going to make much more of an effort to take part in the summer festivities going on outside in nature—and I’m going to start by spending the rest of today outdoors!

 

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