ideas for long weekends (excitement, ambivalence, & dread)

we are on the eve of a holiday weekend and i can feel it...the excitement, the ambivalence, the exhaustion, the dread.” weekends such as this are such a mixed bag for so many people and we would be wise to enter them with intention. to that end, i offer the following thoughts and ideas on celebrating a day off and considering your neighbor.

some basic considerations:

1 it’s o.k. to ask for what you would like. even if you have children or partners or friends to whom you are committed, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of your hopes and that you take steps to communicate and achieve them in some measure. if you need some alone time, it is your responsibility to get it. if you need some community connection, it is yours to seek out. no one can read your mind and expecting them to will only lead to resentment and disappointment. it might not be the easy path to add your needs into the mix but it is the only one that will lead to healthy relationships and a successful long weekend. 

2 it’s important to be flexible. if you take the above consideration seriously and make efforts to get what you would prefer and it doesn’t happen, a gracious and flexible response is important. if you wanted some connection, invited it, and were turned down do not dismay. similarly, if you wanted alone time, sought it out, and it proved elusive, take a breath. you can celebrate having tried. it may not be your first choice to do the next hours in the way that they are evolving, but there is likely still meaning and fun to be gleaned.

3 a party of one can still be a party. as a person who could easily err on the side of too much independence i am always shocked by the fear that many people have of doing things alone. i am not referring here to the sadness that results from wishing that one had a more meaningful relationship, a deeper community, or the like. i know that, for those who would prefer to move through life with a partner as opposed to without one, the ache is profound and real. i also know that western culture can behave toward these individuals as though they simply haven’t tried hard enough or been willing enough or whatever other message leads them to feel marginalized and even more lonely.  these realities stink. hugely! (this post might get somewhat near addressing the coming days for these folks) what i am talking about here, however, is the hesitance that some people feel to try things if they cannot find someone to try them with. if you feel hesitant/fearful/resistant to trying something or having an experience because you will have to do it alone, you leave your experience collection in the hands of others. this is not fair to them or to you. if you want to have an experience and cannot find anyone to join you in it, why not try it with your self?

it is important to me to practice what i preach. to that end i have done the following activities alone. i have gone bowling, danced up at the front of a concert, gone to movies, plays, meals, and events, had picnics, hiked, vacationed, attended a meet up, done a road trip, volunteered at civic events, and more totally by myself. even in crowds of connected others. when people ask me, “aren’t you afraid of what others will think?” i smile and say, “who cares?” i know the mind of others. even if they think, for a fleating second, “she’s alone” the next moment their mind will be elsewhere and i’ll still be there getting the experience i wanted or needed and feeling a deep sense of satisfaction for doing so.

4 being productive is one way of being in the world. while a strong work ethic is a helpful thing, it is important to learn to be idle. rest, refreshment, and changes of pace are important for overall health. for some, this ability is largely underdeveloped. for these individuals, exploring ways of tolerating a slower pace and the art of being, can be important and empowering. it can also feel foreign and scary. be patient and open, there are plenty of ways of developing the skill of being.

5 even the smallest of communities and barest of cupboards can provide all that is needed for a meaningful day. if you are a person of creative pursuit you already know this. if not, you may lack ideas for how to spend the long weekend ahead of you. to that end, i humbly offer the following list of ideas for how to make fun from something or from next to nothing and for simply making the most of the days ahead. 

ideas for a long weekend:

1 see the movie “inside out.” don’t ask questions, don’t read reviews, don’t think it’s only for kids. just go. now. if you are fortunate enough to live in an area where a drive in theater is showing it, try that. 

2 try a kind of food you’ve never eaten. go out, get take out, or try a recipe at home. if you don’t want to make that much effort, open your fridge and mix two things you haven’t ever mixed before. if even that feels like too big a stretch make some pasta or rice then mix equal measures of peanut butter (or any nut butter) and salsa to put on top. trust me...

3 people watch. find a park or a table at a cafe or just sit on the sidewalk somewhere. watch people. make up stories about where they’ve been and where they’re going. don’t judge, just make up stories. do this for at least an hour. push past the time where you feel uncomfortable and self conscious.

4 if your town hosts a 4th of july parade, make a stationary float. this was one of my family traditions growing up. sit (either by yourself or with others) on a parade route with poster boards and a sharpie with which you make signs to hold up for the people in the parade. some ideas: “we love the parks department” “nice wheels” “marching bands make my day” “thank you” “throw candy this way”  you get the idea.

5 invite your neighbors to join you for sparklers after dark. it can be as simple as that. leave a little note at a few neighbor’s doors saying sparklers and lighters at 9 p.m. out front...join me for a ten minute neighborly celebration. 

6 read. maybe even a paper book. put your clock or phone away and let yourself get lost in the story. don’t pay attention to the time.

7 doodle. if you have crayons or colored pencils, get them out and go crazy. if not, any old paper and pen will work.

8 do a puzzle. if you don’t have one, most stores have a cheap option for you. put it out on thursday night in a place where you can work on it a little bit at a time over the weekend.

9 if you are hosting others try something new in the way of letting go of expectations. be intentional about dropping some detail or letting yourself off the hook for the celebration being perfect. try to do the event in a new way that allows a new or different level of engagement for you.

10 doorbell ditch or sidewalk chalk surprise someone. make a plate of goodies (they don’t need to be fancy) or draw someone a picture and write an encouraging note then leave it at their door, ring the bell, and run away or write affirmations all over their driveway with sidewalk chalk and leave before they catch you.

11 go iceblocking. grab an ice block or two from a convenience store and a towel from home. go to a park with hills. go to the top of the hill, put the towel on the top of the ice block, sit on it, slide down the hill. over time, as the ice block begins to melt, your slides will be faster.

12 blow bubbles. you don’t even need to go get anything. you have everything you need at home. empty a can of it’s goods, remove the top and bottom of the can and dip one end in the following mixture then blow through the other end. bubble “juice” recipe: 1/2 c dishwashing liquid (joy brand works especially well) 2 c water 2 tsp sugar

13 make (and play with) play dough. even if you have no kids. seriously. this is fun. a good recipe can be found here.

14 write a thank you note. you don’t need a card or fancy stationery. simply think of someone who has made an impact on your life and type or write them a note to spell out how their importance to you.

15 find a store in your area that you’ve never visited and check it out. if there is any kind of international market near you, that is a great place to start. just go explore.

16 put your feet in cold water. find a public fountain in which to dip your toes. if one doesn’t exist, get a kiddie pool or a large plastic tub and fill it with cold water then sit with your feet in it in your yard. invite others if you’d like or just enjoy the cool quiet by yourself.

17 if all else fails and you decide to turn to netflix or hulu, make your entertainment choices matter by choosing thought provoking and “smart” media. for my top picks you can go here.