With the Old Port Fest approaching next Sunday, and tourist season just around the corner, summertime in Maine is about to get crazy! So many people, so many festivals, so many things to do! Summer is my favorite season to get out, be active, enjoy the sun and all the wonderful things Portland and Maine have to offer. Of course you can do these things any time of year, but summer in Maine is truly special. No one can deny that!

However, at times I get overwhelmed with all the things there are to do and forget to "stop and smell the roses" so to speak. Sometimes there's a lot of pressure to hit up every big event or every popular place in town, and I forget to enjoy the simple things.

I decided this summer that I want to find that balance of things that are highly social and high energy with activities that force me to stop, breathe, relax, enjoy nature and my surroundings, and have truly personal connections with those around me. Here is a list of some activities I plan on taking part of this summer that are on the more "simple" side of life.

Read a book

For me, summertime is when I find it most easy to get lost in a book, when I can sit outside in the sun or shade and leave my technology indoors, and truly get lost in a story. Sometimes it's easy to get distracted by every else, whether it's TV, all the content on the internet, this party that restaurant, etc. etc.! I'd rather get lost in a story for a while.

Swim in the ocean until I turn blue

One of my favorite activities as a kid was to go down the street from my house in Cape Elizabeth to the beach and swim in the coldness for hours. Yes, I enjoyed that cold water and didn't care if I turned numb! It was easy to forget about everything when I could just lay back and float in the ocean for a while. Believe it or not it's been YEARS since I swam in the ocean, and because I live in Maine sometimes I forget to take advantage of what's just down the street from me. I just bought my first bathing suit in 10 years (crazy I know!) and I can't wait to finally take advantage of it!

Write a long letter to a friend

This one might sound cheesy...but when was the last time you wrote a letter? Not a card or a note, but a sincere and heartfelt letter? I can't speak for every single person out there, but there's a tendency in this age of technology to use our phones and social media to stay in contact...but how meaningful is this communication really? I want to spend time writing to my friends from all over the world and even those nearby. I want to tell them a story and I want them to know about my life and I want to know about theirs...from the heart.

Gaze at the stars

I rarely do this. I want to do this more. On a clear night, by a campfire, with friends, on my own. However! My favorite part about looking at the stars is trying to wrap my head around the infinite numbers of other worlds that exist. This is an opportunity for my childlike imagination to be set free, something I think adults forget to do.

Ride a bike

I live in a very quaint part of South Portland, near Willard Beach. Instead of driving my car there, I'm going to hop on my bike. Just feeling the sun and on my way to grab a cup of coffee and a pastry at Scratch Bakery is enough of a simple pleasure to set my day off right.

And lastly...EAT ALL THE ICE CREAM.

As a female there's a lot of pressure to have that bikini bod ready to go by summertime. It's...a lot of pressure. But I love ice cream, especially in summer! Who doesn't? Unless you're lactose intolerant, and in that case I understand. Instead of denying myself and thinking of it as an indulgence, I'm just going to do it. When I want to. It's just called enjoying life. And a peppermint stick ice cream from Beal's is absolutely one of those simple pleasures I have not taken part in in far too long! I may go get some today!

These may all be things you already do. They may not. My intention with this post is to remind other like myself who may struggle with the anxiety of feeling the need to do everything all the time or not to do certain things...to slow down, relax, enjoy. The world has a lot of enjoyable things to offer that are right in your backyard!

Ah. The simple life.