Summer started with a bang. I went on an adventure-filled two-week trip to Hawai’i to visit friends. I got to explore the beautiful island of O’ahu, go on hikes, snorkel in the ocean, and even swim with sharks. It was just the beginning of summer, and I knew it would be the highlight. But I just wasn’t expecting the lows that would follow.
The summer had already been a rollercoaster. Right after vacation I recovered from oral surgery, went to the ER, saw multiple doctors, and learned that my friend was in a traumatic accident and needed surgery. The expectations I had for continuing my adventurous, joyful summer came to a screeching halt.
All my plans to hike, boat, and catch up with old friends were put on pause. However upsetting at first, this pause ended up being a good thing. Rest is something that I’ve been wanting more of in my life, but I wasn’t expecting to be forced into it. Instead of being bitter about this summer’s series of events, I started to see it as the rare gift of slowing down.
Summer is full of opportunities for new experiences, friends, and hobbies, but it can also be an opportunity to take the time to slow down and appreciate what’s around you.When I started looking at summertime as a break from filling up my days with work and plans, I found more enjoyment in the simple things.
I’ve found that simple places bring me joy. Some of the most peaceful times I’ve had have been laying in my hammock in Ann Morrison Park or going on walks down the Greenbelt. I’ve had meaningful conversations and spent time reading under a particular willow tree. Summertime allows me to visit these places that bring me peace.
Living a full life is a balance of experiencing new things while also slowing down to appreciate the little things. When I slow down, I find happiness in simplicity. The simplicity of sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch in the fresh air as I write this story. The simplicity of taking slow walks down my road during sunset to pick flowers and hear the birds sing. The simplicity of calling a friend for encouragement or laughter.
Your summer might not live up to your expectations, and that’s OK. When life takes unexpected turns, look at the situation as an opportunity to reflect and find happiness in the simple things.
Go outside, feel the fresh air, and smile.