Dedicating one empty square per month on my monthly paper calendar, I adopted a simple system of tally marks, as it didn't matter so much what the count was per day for me. Being on summer vacation without the usual calendar rat-race that the school year brings, it was pretty easy to maintain, or even think back to the day before if I got a little behind in my tracking.
Now that the three full months have passed, I can do my summer accounting. I exceeded my expectations:
What did I do outdoors? Vacationing in California helped, where I racked up 52 hours alone: basking in the weather, hugging redwoods, biking the Golden Gate Bridge, and visiting wine country. I walked local trails with our dog or friends, tried paddle boarding for the first time, did a little volunteering with Chesapeake Bay Foundation, went boating with friends, ate outside either at home or restaurant patios, or went to outdoor events. And largely, I hung out in my own back yard--in my proverbial happy place (my pool), but also sitting out reading, hanging with my family, or even writing blog posts such as this.
My take-aways from this little experiment:
- Vitamin D...and Vitamin N (Nature) is addictive. Maybe it was the competitive nature of just keeping track, maybe it was all the experiences (many of them new), or maybe it was just the soaking up of the sun, the air, and even the humidity at times. It affected my happiness, my sense of calm, my sense of adventure... which I'm sure, in turn, affected my family! I feel as though this was one of my best summers ever... and I've had some pretty great summers. In fact, as I think back, it's the outdoor adventures of years past that always come back to mind.
- I noticed my start of June (when I was still in school or attending end of the year teacher meetings) and the end of August (when I was back to business), my hours dwindled. Clearly this is going to be harder to maintain once we're back to "business as usual" this fall. However, I noticed almost a sense of withdrawal this end-of-August on those days when I was indoors too much. My surplus of hours outdoors had become a necessity! I need to remember that school work can also be done on my back patio... or outdoor breaks or adventures may be what this girl needs!
- We had a very rainy spring as well as some major rain mid-July. (My bedroom ceiling has sadly taken notice as well!) That limited my July counts. Likewise, all this rain also raised the mosquito count in Maryland!! At one report, I heard we were 3 times higher than normal for mosquitoes! "Luckily" I'm a mosquito magnet, and even with the use of some heavy-duty bug spray, those pesky critters kept finding me. At times that also drove me to insane itching and the great indoors. More than I would have liked, some evenings! [Spoiler alert: Mosquitoes are very sensitive to the environment, and the more temperatures raise and hurricanes hit, the more mosquitoes--including disease-carrying ones--are on the rise. Insert here: #ClimateChangeIs Real.]
- I also noticed: the more I'm outside, the less I'm surfing social media. It especially helps since I've deleted Facebook from my phone. I can still get there if I'm willing to jump through the login hoops, but usually it's just not even worth it to go there. Yes, my iPad comes outside with me from time to time and I can still be on FB while outdoors...but even that in general has been less. Maybe too, the politics of all (that still are so bipartisanly central to FB), have left a bad taste behind. I'm going to continue to face this battle as well! Perhaps this too contributes to Bullet Point #1 above!