This August, my column on CBC Radio One’s North By Northwest explored what I’m calling “our summertime value”.
Summer has it’s own pace. We have vacation, others our touristing around us, and even the odd heat wave conspires to slow us down. Summer reminds us to relax and play. I believe that there are values we live more fully in summer than any other time of the year. And these values deserve to get carried forward into fall and winter. If we do so, we have another chance to bring more happiness and peace into our daily lives.
What’s a Value?
In short, a value is something that is important to us. It tends not to be negotiable. Think of family or friends and our commitments to them. But it can also be volunteering, or spending time alone or even our never-ending quest to grow and learn. Values are personal and not about right and wrong. They are key elements to our lives that we need to feel fulfilled.
How do I find my Summertime Value?
- Get out your calendar
- Pick a summer month-June, July or August
- As you look at the calendar, what event catches your eye? What did you do that month that is a great memory? Which one is important and it still makes you smile when you think about it?
- Let the movie of that event replay.
- Now jot down key words that describe the experience. If it was a party at beach with a bonfire and music you might write: sand/roasting marshmallows/jam session/ singing/ laughing/ friends/ stories told/awesome sky
- Now circle the resonant word(s). What is the essence of this story that is the most important part?
- Perhaps you circle ‘jam session’. Maybe that night was so electric because you made music and you realize that you miss that creativity in your life. This memory reminds you. Creativity is your summertime value.
I have my Summertime Value, now what?
Values need to be lived, so look for ways to honor it more often. If it’s making music, then maybe this fall you want to take lessons, or find a local coffee shop and drop in and play, or just commit to 30 minutes a week playing alone at home to get started again. No step is too small when you are bringing a value back to prominence. Once a month, once a week? Just get started.
When I this exercise, I did a summertime value for each month (June, July and August) and discovered a theme. I was lucky enough to work around Canada this summer which allowed me to reconnect with several old friends. My summertime value is ‘old friends’ and I will be writing and phoning them this winter. I want to work more on keeping that connection alive. I had forgotten the joy of deep friendships that have stood the test of time.
What else can summer teach us?
Think back to when you were a kid. Somewhere between the ages of 5 and 10. What did you love to do in summer?
This is a chance to remember how to play. Summertime often reminds us of how we like to play now, or how we used to play. Why not find out what play looks like today and bring it back into your life?
I went down a water slide with two good friends and I can’t believe how hard we laughed and screamed as we did it. When was the last time I cut loose like that? It’s time I got back to swimming and even playing in the water this year.
How about summer in the winter?
Summer is all about the senses. The heat of the long days, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the drinks on the patio. Why not plan now for a little visit with summer in December? I’m thinking about freezing some of the peaches right now that are in season, and making peach crumble in rainy November. Every bite is like a dose of sunshine I find. Or putting some season craft beer aside and cracking that cold one in January while I look back at my summer vacation photos with family. Or how about a summer soundtrack? I remember the long weekend play lists from the local radio station in the 80’s. All throw back 70’s rock. It was such fun. I have a subscription to a music service, and every time I hear a song that reminds me of summer fun, I put it in an online play list. I intend to be bopping down the street with my headphones on when it’s a dark February afternoon. I’ll be revisiting summer through the sounds of Katrina and the Waves.
Summer time is a time when we make time for fun. We plan our fun. We give ourselves permission to relax and play. All these suggestions are great stress busters and tools to revitalize us in the long nighttime of the year. So try some of these out, see what you find. Only two more weeks of summer left, so get out there and do your research.