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The 7 No's of an Amazing Summer

1.) Say NO to saving all the fun for the weekend. Summer flies by fast enough. When you find yourself waiting to do this or that until “this weekend” or “when vacation starts” instead consider how to incorporate a little bit of summer into every day. Eat your lunch outside. Open the window. Meet friends for a walk in the park after work. Keep a tiny bottle of coconut-scented sunscreen at your desk & take a little sniff now & then. Visit the mid-week farmer’s market. If it says “summer” to you, find a creative way to enjoy it every day.

2.) Say NO to standing in front of a mirror critiquing yourself for not having a perfect beach body. None of us do. Even models are Photoshopped these days. But here’s a little-known secret: the best way to have a perfect beach body is to have a body and take it to the beach. Ta-da! Perfect! You now have the perfect beach body. Enjoy the waves and don’t forget the sunscreen.

3.) Say NO to driving everywhere. With nicer weather comes the opportunity to connect with nature, feel the sun on your skin, & enjoy a breeze in your hair. When you need to get from here to there, consider walking, biking, or even skating. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can drive to work but then park farther away so that you get a little more sun, exercise, and fresh air. If this isn’t practical for your commute, why not incorporate it into going to the store or visiting a friend? Enjoy the sidewalk chalk masterpieces from the neighborhood kids. Count how many acts of kindness or displays of affection you witness as you meander. Stop and smell the roses along the way. No. Really. Stop and smell them! Appreciate the journey as least as much as the destination.

4.) Say No to spending money unnecessarily. There are so many free concerts to be watched, picnics to be had, park swings to be swung on, public fountains to splash through, parades to watch, Little League teams to cheer for, fireflies to catch (and release!), stars to count, dogs to pet, and engaging library novels to read from a hammock. Celebrate what is special about the season for as long as you can.

5.) Say NO to eating in gloom. What I mean is that summer offers so many opportunities to enjoy the sun or outdoors that you should really embrace it. Drink your morning coffee on the porch, terrace, or at least next to an open window. Choose restaurants that have al fresco or open window options. When at home, eat with the sliding glass door open, outside in picnic style, or make good use of your grill. Choosing fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables brings the season right to your plate. To be fair, brats, hotdogs, ribs, and hamburgers scream “summer” for many people… but, for health’s sake, don’t get crazy.

6.) Say NO to inside projects & activities. Remodel your kitchen when the snow flies. Organize that closet when the leaves fall. Host board game night when the days are short. Binge on Netflix when the frost is on the ground. Don’t give yourself any excuses for being inside. On hot days you can seek out shade and water (lakes, rivers, fountains, your own sprinkler), but don’t give in to the allure of AC. Winter will come again, and you’ll miss the warmth and sunshine that the summer months offered. Pro tip: if you Google “shady spots in Chicago” you don’t get a list of magnificent trees, ivy covered pergolas, or noteworthy pavilions. Just trust me.

7.) Say NO to technology. Unplug your headphones in favor of listening to the birds singing, children playing, or even a lawn being mowed in the distance. Don’t stare at your phone when there are flowers, sunsets, people, or animals that are more intriguing and entertaining than anything that is on that little screen. Kids, in particular, are an endless source of entertainment. Let’s face it, if a credible research study came out tomorrow stating that it was discovered that there is a naturally occurring chemical in children that, in effect, made them behave as if they were tiny drunkards, most of us would pause briefly and then think, “yeah, that explains a lot.”

The great thing about embracing “NO” to lead you toward the best summer ever is that NO is simply a decision. It can happen immediately – right here, right now with little or no pre-prep, no money down, no annual contracts, no coordination, and no byproducts. NO your way to the best summer ever. After all, if we have learned nothing else from Game of Thrones, winter IS coming.

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