Americans aren't very good at having fun. A recent Glassdoor study found that American workers only used half of their eligible vacation time during the past 12 months. And even when they took time off, 61 percent admitted to doing some work while they were on vacation. Top reasons for not relaxing: fear that no one else can adequately do the job in one's absence, followed by a fear of falling further behind.
I relate to this syndrome. Just the other day I told my husband how appealing it would be to take a "staycation" this summer. The problem is that unless I literally leave my routine behind, it's difficult for me to unplug from work and not check e-mail or chip away at work projects. We have a few road trips on the calendar, but with summer around the corner, I want to make the most of this fleeting season. Simply put, I want to have some fun. For me, this means spending time planting and tending our vegetable garden. It means hitting the bike path for cycling and running as often as I can, and heading to the community pool to visit with neighbors. It means barbecues and chasing fireflies with our grandson.
What I often overlook when I'm fantasizing about how I'll spend my summer vacation is that gardening and biking and running (even chasing fireflies) are aerobic activities. They require a degree of fitness to be able to enjoy them for more than 20 minutes at a time. Plus, if all you get after a few hours in the garden are sore muscles and a strained back, where's the fun in that?
To avoid this potential pitfall of summer activities, I solicited advice from my friend Anne Weirich. Anne is a registered nurse and a certified running coach. She and I have run three marathons together to raise money for clean water with Team World Vision, but after getting sidelined from running last year, I'm back at square one fitness-wise. I asked Anne for tips to get from the couch to a 5K—or maybe just to the garden. Check out her article, "What Moves You," and see if you're inspired to get moving.
Reading is another favorite pastime for summer. Two books on my list so far: Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. TCW regular contributor Kelli Trujillo shares her love of mystery novels, a love that is based on, well, the mystery of faith and good writing. You may end up with a detective story on your nightstand after reading her piece. Add a comment at the end of this article and tell us what else you're reading this summer.
And finally, what's summer without a little romance? I've been married a long time, and frankly, I can use some help in this department. We asked Cara Joyner to prime the pump and share some fresh ideas for summer loving. If you're looking for fun ways to spend time with your love, whether it's your first date or your 500th, Cara's list will get the fireworks flying.
Summer passes so quickly. Here's to making time for fun! Peace.
Marian V. Liautaud