A happy summer list

photo-168I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting next week, so I don’t want blog visitors to keep seeing a post about my slightly-elevated stress level. Instead, here are some things I am currently happy about.

Frozen bananas. I’ve been making extremely thick smoothies (that I eat with a spoon) out of frozen bananas and frozen strawberries. I mix in a little bit of yogurt and milk, blend it all up and enjoy after a run in 80 degree weather. It turns out that The Frugal Girl makes something similar with heavy cream. I have developed a system that completely blends the strawberries but leaves chunks of the frozen bananas intact, so I get to enjoy those little chunks. Yum.

Setting my own thermostat. Over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, Anne got a somewhat stunning number of comments on her post on “The Easiest Way to Ruin a Good Outfit.” Some summer events are held in hotel ballrooms, which are always freezing. You may be tempted to put on a cardigan but Anne warns of the result. The comments are mostly from cardigan fans who vehemently disagree, but I noted that the freezing hotel ballrooms just kill me. Why are people wasting so much energy? It’s the same in office buildings. I often froze during summer internships in college. Office thermostats are generally set for men wearing suits — with jackets, long sleeve shirts, long sleeve pants, etc. Men are the norm, everyone else must conform. Or bring space heaters, sweaters, gloves (seriously!). I am grateful to be in a home office where I can set the thermostat at a perfectly reasonable 78 degrees.

Variety. I write about lots of things, so I learn lots of things. This week I learned that Pinterest is all about projects. Frequent users are looking for recipes, ways to decorate their homes, etc. This is why people are more open to following brands than celebrities. Twitter is about news, so you follow Justin Bieber to learn what he’s up to. But Justin Bieber has no projects to offer you. A brand like Kraft does. Pinterest is a marketer’s dream. People raise their hands and tell you what sort of stuff they’re getting into. Look! I’m decorating a nursery! I’m buying a new home! I’m experimenting with dairy-free desserts! Those are bits of information that consumer-oriented brands love to know.

I also learned that people, no matter their age, always think they’ll hit their career peak a few years in the future, but their happiest time at work was about 5 years in the past. That’s enough space for nostalgia, but not so much that you forget what happened. My take-away from this is that if you know someday you will look back on now as your happiest time, why not enjoy the now while you’re in it, rather than solely in the rear-view mirror? Easier said than done, of course, because it’s impossible to live in a peak state. But perspective helps.

The American Time Use Survey. USA Today is running one of my columns on this topic in the next few weeks. I love big data sets. Especially ones that — in their thoroughness — counter conventional wisdom.

Resilient kids. The 7-year-old and 4-year-old went to day camps this week. Neither knew anyone at the start, but they did great, and have had an immensely good time. Indeed, both expressed annoyance that they weren’t signed up for after care too. I guess 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. wasn’t sufficient.

Summer sunsets. Because I’m getting the kids into bed on time. We also have fireflies. And my tomatoes are growing this year. I planted much less fussy varieties, and there are already green tomatoes on some of the stalks (as opposed to last year, when my heirloom varieties didn’t ripen until mid-October, at which point everything froze).

Mindless magazines. I just ordered a bunch of new subscriptions. At about $1/issue, this is pretty cheap entertainment.

Waking up before my alarm. This is easier in summer because it’s light out, but I’ve been winding down around 10:30 p.m. and turning the lights out around 11. I set my alarm for 7 but I generally wake up around 6 and then drift in and out of a delightful groggy state that’s like a natural snooze button for the next 15-20 minutes. Then I either lie there and think or get up and work. This doesn’t happen every day. Some mornings the 2-year-old wakes up early, though she’s actually been ok with me telling her it’s not wake-up time yet. My husband let her watch cartoons this a.m. when she woke up. I’ve been having some trippy dreams. It’s kind of awesome.

Fitbit feedback. I will admit to pacing around the yard sometimes. But I do like nudging it up to 13-15k steps/day!

What’s making you happy right now?

7 thoughts on “A happy summer list

  1. Freezing bananas–that is a good use for bananas that are about to go bad but you can’t eat.

    So true about cold temperatures in buildings during the summer–a waste of energy. And I’ve had a difficult time finding cardigans during the summer. It’s good that you can control your thermostat.

  2. Fireflies still thrill me, because we didn’t have them where I grew up. My husband got the kids out of bed one night to show them (they were still awake).
    I do wish I didn’t loathe bananas. They seem to be in everything.
    I am happy about sandals and painted toenails, the fact that our city pool just opened (even though we haven’t been), and peaches. I love peach season, my favorite fruit.

  3. Fireflies do make me happy too!
    Starting and growing my photography business is making me happy! (I should photograph some fireflies 🙂
    My 4 months old boy is making me extremely happy! So many changes and all for better!
    Good blogs about productivity are making me happy :).

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