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Embracing summertime

Embracing summertime

According to the calendar, summertime is still a couple weeks away, but with morning birds singing and the sun brightly shining, it certainly feels like we’ve already rolled over into the summer season. 

Last weekend I sat in the blazing Kingsport, Tennessee, heat for two days watching my younger son play baseball. Driving back to Waynesville, I could feel the coolness settle in about the time we drove through that picturesque section of I-26 near the Tennessee/North Carolina border around Madison County. Cruising along, I took in the grandeur of the vibrant green mountains and breathed deeply, taking it all in.  

There is something truly special about summertime in Western North Carolina. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth and the weather is mostly wonderful. Despite mid-day high temperatures, at least we have cool mornings and evenings.

With summer on the horizon, I’ve made a few commitments to myself. I know how quickly this time of the year flies by, and I want to make sure I enjoy every minute of it. I want to share these personal commitments with my readers in hopes you, too, will challenge yourself to slow down and embrace this lovely season.

To begin with, I have a goal to reconnect with fun. Women are notorious for being unable to have good ol’ fashioned fun. It’s like somewhere along the way, we simply forget how to be silly and goofy and enjoy hobbies that aren’t connected to productivity.

This lack of ability to have fun is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve been trying to notice times where I feel lighter, more joyful. Riding roller coasters, playing tennis, paddle boarding, board games and reading are activities where I feel like I’m having fun. This summer, I plan to weave more of all of that into my life. Granted, it’s not a simple task to ride a roller coaster but we plan to make an intentional effort to get the family to Dollywood so we can all feel the up-and-down excitement of roller coasters.

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A unique experience I’ve had lately that ended up being fun was visiting the local farmers market then cooking a meal or making a dish with the items we purchased. A farmers market is uplifting for many reasons and using the items purchased makes it even more fulfilling. The things I do for “fun” have changed since my younger years but the feeling is still the same.That’s what we need to remember. The act of having fun evolves as we grow older but that doesn’t mean we should give up on it.

Something else I plan to do this summer is to sit down more often. I’m too much of a busy body and have the hardest time sitting down and relaxing. I always feel like there is more to do or more tasks to accomplish. Even when the rest of the family is relaxing, I’m up doing random things like chopping carrots or folding laundry. I’m sure this is something systemic in nature that has been ingrained in me since childhood. It’s probably going to be a hard habit to break, but I’m going to work at it.

Additionally, I plan to get outside multiple times a day. I work from home primarily, so it’s easy to get stuck in my office or in the house cleaning or cooking. Living in Haywood County, the outdoor adventure options are limitless and we plan to take advantage of that this summer. Our kids are busy with jobs, camps and sports workouts, so we don’t have any big trips scheduled. With that in mind, we hope to enjoy more local activities like rafting, kayaking, hiking, tubing and horseback riding. On a smaller scale, I plan to get outside and do the little things like walk my dog more often or make it a habit to eat dinner on the deck.

Next, I am going to be moving my body a lot during the next couple of months. I love to run, but I’m hoping to incorporate more unique physical activities such as tennis, open water swimming, mountain biking, paddle boarding and kayaking. I don’t want summer to pass by and I’ve done nothing but gone on hot, sweaty runs. We all know that exercise in general is a huge mood and health booster, but getting active in new ways offers additional benefits. To make this happen, I need to get up earlier and go to bed earlier. Those of you who get up before 8:00 a.m every day know how magical a Smoky Mountain summer morning can be. I don’t want to miss out on those.

Lastly, I’m going to try and be more lighthearted this summer. There’s enough heaviness in the world without me adding negative energy to it. I’m working hard to stop overthinking or worry about what’s happening in the future. We’ve had several earthquakes lately in Haywood County and even though they were relatively small, they made me realize how pointless it is to waste time on trivialities or things I have no control over. My goal is to be more mindful of the present because that’s really all we can be certain of.

As we move into the dog days of summer, I hope we can all find some time to relax and a few activities that offer a little fun. Lord knows, we all need it.

(Susanna Shetley is a writer, editor and digital media specialist at SMN and Smoky Mountain Living. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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