As I write this, it’s the first of August, that wistful month sandwiched between the middle and end of the summer. The weather is warm, the days long and there is still plenty of time to have fun.
If you’ve been spending your summer thus far stuck in the office, working nonstop, or if you’ve been managing other challenges in life that have gotten in the way of your summer, now is the time to commit to making the most of the next four weeks.
Here in New England, we usually have nice weather through September but there is definitely a different tone to our days once the kids are back to school and Sept. 1 rolls around.
- Take some time off from work. Americans are one of the only groups of employees who leave vacation days on the table at the end of the year. In other countries vacation is mandatory and employees get up to four weeks off per year. In the U.S, many workers neglect taking time off in an effort to get ahead or stay at least above water. These strategies will only lead to burn out and (further) resentment of your job. Take at least four full days off and if you’re really concerned about the time, take it over a weekend, so you only miss two workdays.
- Plan a day trip to a local town you haven’t seen before. Boston is a perfect starting point for a day trip that can make you feel like you went to a completely different state. Newburyport, Ipswich, Falmouth, Concord or any other of our local towns are a short day trip away and worth exploring. Even if you spend a few hours walking the North End, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation as you’ll be surrounded by lots of tourists (don’t even think about standing in line at Mike’s Pastry!).
- Start training for a half-marathon. If you start training at the beginning of August, you’ll have about 10 weeks until mid-October. October is a month full of options for half-marathons (Baystate in Lowell, Newburyport, BAA Half Marathon). Consider running or walking and pick up a training book or research training plans online.
- Go to a farm for fresh produce or to visit some animals. Certainly if you have kids, visiting a farm with animals is a great day trip. Winslow Farm in Norton is one of my favorite places because they take in rescue animals. All the animals are in pens but they also are able to walk fairly freely around the grounds. Unlike petting zoos, your kids can walk right up to the horse, the llama or even a peacock (be careful). Another option is a local farm for fresh produce. Nothing makes a more delicious and fun meal then picking the ingredients fresh from the farm and preparing them with care and love.
- Plan a picnic. When did these go out of style or appear only on the Esplanade on July 4th? Pack a basket or visit Whole Foods and stock up a few bags. Take them to a local dock on the Charles or in the Public Garden. Find a shady spot in the early evening and enjoy al fresco dining.
- Take stock of your finances/job status/love life/ exercise regime/ health status and set some goals for the fall. The fall is a great time to implement a new approach to any aspect of your life. The things I’ve listed here are just examples. Fall is a season with fresh energy and it always has a greater feeling of energy towards being productive, which comes in large part from the shifting from vacation to back-to-school. Even if you’re not in school, decide what area of your life needs some work, create a plan to start 9/1/12 and use the rest of August to gear up.
- Visit some old friends. The summer is usually a time when people are more available to relax and socialize. Look up some old friends you usually don’t see and invite them out to dinner. Use Facebook as a way to reconnect and share old stories and fun times.
- Try some new restaurants. Summer weeknight evenings have a great feel to them, even if you’ve worked a full day. Make a list of some places you’d like to try and pick an alternate night to Friday or Saturday to dine out. You’ll beat the crowds and feel like you’re on vacation in the middle of the week.
- Go visit your parents, siblings or other family. Spend some time visiting your family, especially mom and dad. They’ll appreciate it more than a phone call, you’ll get some home cooking and you’ll appreciate having someone take care of you for once.
- Go to the beach. This of course, goes without saying. Even if you don’t take a full week off to go someplace like the Cape or Islands, take time to travel up to Crane Beach or to any of the South Shore beaches. Just like a day trip to one of New England’s funky towns, your soul will be restored, your energy level rejuvenated, and you’ll feel refreshed and relaxed.
We always say that the summer is short. So, do something to make the most of it before it’s too late. Have a wonderful August. Peace.