So, the pool opens this weekend. For most of my life I spent this week hating on myself because, in spite of my January resolve, my Memorial Day thighs just weren’t what I had hoped for.
Thankfully, I’m coming to a new place of acceptance for my beautiful body. Midlife is teaching me mercy, for myself and others. Pretty much these days, what you see is what you get. Most of my thoughts around my body these days are about health, strength, and how my body FEELS.
And I can make fun of myself now. A few weeks ago I wrote to you about my newly discovered bald spot. And not long before that, we all had a jolly good time on our Facebook page sharing tips about the best way to deal with menopausal mustaches. (Waxing was the clear favorite.)
Today’s piece is about FUN!!!! That is all. I’ve created a Menopausal Activity Guide for the summer. There are 101 joyful suggestions – one for each day of the season.
I can’t wait to hear your suggestions, too!
I look forward to sharing our first Summer together. Here we go —
1. As a special Memorial Day treat, buy yourself some really awesome walking sneaks.
2. Take an actual walk.
3. Ask a friend to join you.
4. Download an audio recording of E. L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey so you can listen to soft porn to distract yourself while you’re walking. You’ll think you’re panting because of the text and not because your lungs are on fire. (I haven’t read the book yet, but I hear – well, ridiculous reports about it.)
5. Go for a swim. Appreciate the way your body feels in the water.
6. Get a massage.
7. And a mani-pedi.
8. Make a point to laugh more often.
9. To do this, study the work of funny women – Ellen DeGeneres. Erma Bombeck. Lucille Ball.
10. Watch the first seasons of Saturday Night Live. Remember candygram?
11. Or The Carol Burnett show. Oh my gosh, remember how funny it was when they were all trying not to laugh at each other? It invariably started with Tim Conway. They couldn’t not laugh at him.
12. Plan a camping trip for the summer. If the tent thing is too much of a bother, rent a cabin with some girlfriends. Take walks in the woods and cook fish in foil pouches over the fire. Later, make s’mores.
13. Sing campfire songs and tell scary stories. Make sure you hold your flashlight up under your nose so your face looks really spooky.
14. Find a County Fair to attend. Make some jam and enter it in a contest. Or, work on your apple butter recipe.
15. Go to a 12:01 opening of a summer blockbuster movie. Stand in line with all the other crazy people. Afterwards, wonder what the hell you did that for.
16. Sleep all of the following day. Because you never do that.
17. Make homemade ice cream with some kids. Set out 43 toppings and make a banana split party.
18. Get your 4th of July sparklers early. Every night for a week before the fireworks, light one and “pen your name” in sparkles.
19. Borrow a telescope and look at the stars. Unless you already have a telescope. In which case you could host a viewing party.
20. Help a neighbor plant flowers.
21. Grow tomatoes. When they’re ready, make tomato sandwiches like my grandma did. Wonder Bread, lettuce, mayo, thick slices of tomato, salt, and pepper. I hate tomato sandwiches, but for some reason, lots of people love them, so check it out.
22. Make popcorn and host Chick Flick movie night. Don’t forget the Orange Crush and the sponge rollers for your hair. Throw pieces of popcorn up in the air and try to catch them in your mouth.
23. Read, read, read. Summer trash. Not everything you do needs to be an edifying experience.
24. Do you have a bike? No. Get one. With a HUGE basket on front so you can bring stuff home from the Farmer’s Market. Get a fun bell, too.
25. Visit a berry farm and pick fruit. You can use what you picked to make that jam for the County Fair contest.
26. Start a garage band. You can at least play the tambourine and buy a bunch of kazoos for your friends.
27. Or, you can take up the harmonica. You won’t believe what you can play on a harmonica.
28. Make up a walking tour of your town. Find 10 little known interesting things about where you live and write it all up. Send it to the local paper. Or conduct tours on Saturday mornings.
29. Go to children’s hour at your library. It’s such crazy fun.
30. Afterwards you may want a cocktail.
31. Or at least a hot fudge sundae from Baskin Robbins.
32. Or, you may want to scoop your ovaries out with that little pink spoon, because the kids were so nuts. That’s an option.
33. Read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. This book is a collection of essays using seashells as metaphor. Pick a different metaphor of something that interests you. Write an essay about that. How is life like jelly beans? Horseback riding? What does recycling have to inform you about your life?
34. Clean out one box from your basement. Slowly go through your treasures and savor all memories. Can you put some of them together for people you love?
35. Make a movie about your life. Record it on your phone in 2-minute segments.
36. Start your very own blog for the summer. You can set up a totally free one at www.wordpress.com. That’s how I started.
37. Pick a theme for your blog.
38. Write a song. Play it with your garage band.
39. Write a poem. Read it at a poetry jam.
40. If you don’t have a poetry jam nearby, host one at your house. Ask everyone to bring a poem and a treat to share. Don’t forget to wear your beret.
41. Make some homemade bubble solution. Go in the back yard and blow bubbles. Show a kid how to blow some using the “horn” of a flower as a bubble wand. If you’ve never done that, Google it.
42. Go on a trip. To get your groove back. If you still have your groove, try and lose it. So you can find it again. Because the seeking – the recommitment to finding your beautiful roar – is the fun part.
43. More on old fashioned road trips — Pack a couple of days’ worth of clothes. Get in the car. And then just go somewhere. Stay in a local motel and explore a new village. Eat ice cream. Take pictures of course. And post the story on your blog.
44. Get a new journal. For the summer. And some cool new marker pens. Draw pictures of what you want to do in the coming weeks.
45. Take a fun car for a test drive. Don’t buy it. Unless you want to. And you can do so without hurting yourself in some way.
46. If your finances are a little screwy, hire an advisor to help you straighten them out.
47. Don’t forget yoga classes.
48. Or at least move your beautiful body in some way.
49. Play bingo. We went last night and had a good time listening to all the little old ladies heckle the poor fireman who was calling the numbers too fast – too slow. Rough crowd.
50. Make cake. Because it’s the right thing to do.
51. Unless you shouldn’t eat cake. Then make the world’s most beautiful fruit salad. Because summer fruits are exquisite.
52. Have you been to the zoo recently? Go early, before it gets too crowded and what not.
53. Make sure you have sunscreen and bug spray on hand.
54. Have you been to a water park recently? We always go with kids, but what if you went with a girlfriend instead? On a weekday. Ride all those crazy water slides. Buy a t-shirt with a really awful saying on it.
55. When’s the last time you went to an art gallery? Took a painting class?
56. Gather up your painting supplies and head to the country. Stop in some little town, pick something that interests you, and paint it. Really, give it just 30 minutes max. Because the goal isn’t to do it well. It’s to DO IT!!
57. In preparation for the Summer Olympics, host your own neighborhood summer games. Old fashioned sack races, wheelbarrow races, bubble blowing contests, etc. Get ribbons and prizes. Set up an awards area. Play the anthem as the winner is lauded.
58. Get a Pen Pal.
59. Learn French, or Italian, or Chinese. Take a really deep dive into another culture. Study everything about it – food, history, geography, art, etc. Get your passport and check it out! If you can’t get there this summer, see if you can’t find a pocket of locals from the area. Is there a Greek church nearby? There are two really terrific Little Italy’s within driving distance of us. And, of course, there is China Town.
60. Plan a trip to New York to see a show.
61. Or, support live theatre wherever you are.
62. Take an elderly friend to High Tea at a local hotel. Or make one at home. Bake scones.
63. Get some friends and clean up a nature trail. Afterwards, have everyone over for hot dogs on the grill. Get those sparklers out.
64. Invest in the summer essentials – a glow in the dark Frisbee and a Hula Hoop or three. Practice that Hula Hoop until you can work it down from your hand over your head, to your neck to your waist to your ankles. Then do that Hula Hoop ankle trick. Look it up if you don’t know what I mean.
65. Make a terrarium.
66. Research your family tree.
67. Make a time capsule with the kids in your family or neighborhood. When we renovated our house a few years back, one fell out of the roof. Thirty years ago the people who lived in our house left a letter to the future tucked away in a Chock Full o’Nuts coffee can. Through the miracle of the Internet, we found the people who left it in our rafters and gave them a call. They live in California now. (We’re in Virginia.) Afterwards, we made a new Time Capsule, copied theirs, and tucked the whole package along with a gift from each of our boys to the “family of the future” in the original coffee can. The builders placed it back in the rafters behind a new wall.
68. Tie Dye t-shirts.
69. Make pitchers of Kool Aid. Did you know people use Kool Aid to dye yarns? Wanna try it?
70. Try Paintball.
71. Organize an adult scavenger hunt. Here are some ideas.
72. Teach yourself flower arranging.
73. Skip down your street. Or a street across town, just in case you feel too silly to try it at home.
74. Decide to love your life. Because it’s a choice.
75. Think about what you want your One Beautiful Life to look like come this Holiday Season. Make a list of the changes you will need to make to get you there.
76. Pick one and do it.
77. If you need help getting started, Rent My Sass.
78. Or, start your very own Wisdom Circle. Pick a group of women who all want to make changes and meet once a week. No more than 45 minutes. Someone different can lead each week. Everyone commits to one change she’d like to make for the week.
79. If you need to address any health issues, get HELP. Really truly, this is the time to do it. If your body hurts, you need to address that. Set yourself up for success.
80. When was the last time you got a decent haircut? Truly, are you still wearing that bob from two decades ago? Take a good and honest look in the mirror. What can you do to feel better about the way you present yourself to the world?
81. What is the condition of your summer wardrobe? Sandals? Toes? Makeup?
82. Do you have a decent summer bag? Or are you starting to look a little old lady-ish? You know what I mean. Be honest with yourself. For yourself.
83. Wanna take a summer class? Enroll in an online course? Go back to school? This is the time to check it out.
84. What does your retirement picture look like? Are all your legal papers in order? Does someone know how to help you if you get into trouble? I know these things aren’t all playfully summer-like. But you won’t believe how much more you enjoy life’s simple pleasures when you don’t have big worries hanging over your head.
85. Have you always wanted to get “inked” but were too afraid to try? Why not have a test run? Get a henna tattoo for kicks.
86. Redecorate your bedroom. Get rid of all that old drab stuff. Fresh linens and a new coat of paint will go a long way toward making you feel groovy!
87. Speaking of which, what does your bathroom look like? Can you start with fresh new towels? A basket full of foaming bath salts, lotions, candles, etc.
88. Take $20 to the local crafts store and buy yourself some pastels and crayons and coloring things. Color something.
89. While you’re there, buy a paint-by-number kit for you and one of the kids in the family. Sit together and make your painting.
90. Go find a wheel and learn to throw a pot.
91. Find a place that organizes bonfires. We have a local park that has one every few months.
92. These are hard to find but consider it a challenge – is there a drive-in movie theatre within travel distance of your home? If so, pile a bunch of people in the car with pillow and blankets and make a trip there.
93. If not, see if you can’t create your own. Screen a movie on the garage door or the side of your house. Sit in your car and watch it.
94. Attend a concert in the park. Pack a picnic. Go by yourself if you like. There’s something really luxurious about going to some of these things by yourself.
95. Learn to play chess. Or canasta. Because that’s such a cool word.
96. Buy a new puzzle and keep it out on a nearby card table. Every so often, sit down for a few minutes and play with a few pieces.
97. Visit your alma mater.
98. Take ballroom dancing lessons. Enter a contest. Or go and watch one.
99. Buy a new party frock.
100. Go somewhere fancy for supper. Some place that requires reservations. Wear your new frock.
101. Start that novel. With you as heroine. Keep track of all your summer adventures, so that your heroine can have them too.
I can’t wait to get started!!! Which one are you picking first??
Photo: Flickr, pinksherbetphotography