Being Fully Alive in the Summer

The sun right now – ugh, the morning summer sun. ♡ PLEASE NEVER LEAVE.

It’s streaming through the pines outside the windows and making the quiet morning lake glitter with just the right amount of natural bling just beyond that green line of trees. Dad is sipping a steaming coffee after his traditional early morning swim, Mom is planning some kind of elaborate and competitive family olympics, Bjork is deeply immersed in his 97th nonfiction book of the week (literally at this moment I can hear him explaining to my mom, “yeah, it’s called The Tax and Legal Playbook and it’s, yeah, no, it’s actually really good” as I am sitting here throwing up a little bit in my mouth), and my sister just called to say she’d be here later tonight just in time for the night games. There’s a cheapy page-turner of a mystery novel waiting for me on the cushy chaise lounge outside next to the picnic table, and the little green hammock hasn’t stopped swinging since the moment my brother hung it and popped inside yesterday. I just wrapped up a 10am breakfast of chocolate granola + mom’s banana bread complete with a green smoothie on the side just so my whole family can roll their eyes at me for being THAT sister.

We call this “Up North” – and it is simultaneously a place, a mindset, and a practice of getting away and going off-grid.

Almost every year when we get to the end of summer, I find myself eyeballs-deep in regret: WHY. HOW. NO NO NO. It’s already almost gone and I SHOULD HAVE TREATED MYSELF TO MORE SUMMER. Why didn’t I sit outside in the sun with every free second I had? Why didn’t I go swimming in lakes and binge-read mystery novels and eat grilled romaine with jalapeño ranch (current obsession) and dad’s pork chops and loaded peanut butter cup nice cream like it was my last day of life?

The cabin, aka a week in an old-turned-new northern Wisconsin lake house with my family, is the best method of Fully-Alive Summer Living I know and one of the only ways to get rid of end-of-summer regret.

If there ever were a time to get in the lake – not just look at it, we’re talking about actually jumping in the water – to read cheesy books that you might never want to tell anyone about (or fine, smart nonfiction, but WHO ARE YOU), to spend three days straight in the same grey tee-shirt, with no makeup and a summery little top knot to seal the deal, this would be the time.

I mentioned this end-of-summer regret concept, and my go-live-large-in-August sort of mantra in a post earlier this week, but it’s worth mentioning again (for my own sake and for yours):

Be good to your summer self. Especially all of you sweet friends, myself included, who live in a place where there is a big white winter just a few months around the bend.

Give yourself extra time, extra space, extra breathing room for the love of all things summer, including but not limited to juicy watermelon, sunsets, bike rides, and sand between your toes. Take a weekend mini-vacation. Or staycation – yes yes yes, do an easy and stress-free staycation. Jump in a lake. Meet someone for happy hour, sit outside, and then skip dinner in favor of post-HH ice cream just because you can. Take deep breaths and get enough sleep and drink in all the summer around you. It really is the most delicious.