Seize the Summer

“Does it ever seem like summers are getting shorter?

Like time is moving faster?”

I said this to my friend Cam as we waited for the Dream in High Park to start in 2004. We had a picnic and some wine and liked to get into the deep stuff. He was a fellow actor but also a sciency sort, and he told me about ‘ratio theory’.
The idea, he explained, is that time is experienced as a percentage of our total existence.  
So for a four year old,  a year represents 25% of his existence. For a 50 year old, a year is only 2% of her life, making it relatively insignificant.
I’ve thought about that theory a lot since that picnic. When it seems like my kids are morphing before my eyes, when I’m still not used to writing 2016 on cheques and the year is half over. Thinking about that picnic also reminds me that we really don’t know how many summers we have left. My lovely friend Cam died in an accident when he was only thirty years old.

So here I am at the starting line of summer… that sweet moment we Canadians wait for during the months of grumbling and scraping our cars in the dark. And I’m thinking,
“Summer 2016, I’m gonna grab you by the balls.”
Because life is short. Because summer is sweet.

Here’s how to do it:

The key is to not wake up in September and realize you forgot to do the things that are important to you. The hard part is identifying those in advance. I tackle it with Persons, Places, and Things:


You know those people that you love being with but you realize you haven’t seen them since that Christmas party? If part of your perfect summer involves reconnecting with certain people, then take action now to make sure it happens. You might be surprised to find out that your next mutually available Saturday is in August.
And then look closer to home and think about your family. Here are some of my essential family experiences for the summer:
  • One big old family reunion. Parents, grandparents, cousins, a casserole that involves cheez whiz. Let’s do this.


  • At least one romantic summer night in the city date with my husband. Bikes. Sundress. Patio (check out this list of Toronto’s most romantic patios)



  • At least one lazy afternoon in the park with my kids per week. Sitting in the sun with my bare feet in the sandbox, watching all sorts of projects and kid drama unfold. Unfortunately, I have the kind of life where I have to schedule this. But it’s happening.


What are your essential summer destinations? I need:
  • A visit to Toronto Island. My husband finds those quad bikes embarrassing but the kids and I outnumber him.

quad bike

  • A visit to a farm to go berry picking. Every year I say ‘let’s go berry picking!’ and my husband informs me we are already into apple season. That’s how in tune with nature I am. Here’s a great list of what is in season in Ontario and here’s where to get it. Advance warning: Strawberries are over in July. OVER.


  • A trip. Sure, a Euro rail pass would be great, but I’m talking about even a road trip to Port Dover, Ontario (which, by the way, has a surprisingly delightful 1950’s seaside kitch vibe). Here’s a link to some other awesome options.  (Did you know there is an Apple Pie trail? Doesn’t that strike you as an EMERGENCY?)

apple pie

  • To just be outside.  This seems obvious but we are creatures of habit. What routines can you move outside? Your lunch at work? Your workout (cough cough Bootcamps) Meetings? Your commute? Dinner? Watching the entire third season of Orange is the New Black on your laptop in the front porch after the kids go to sleep?
This is actually a picture of my sister, Shannon Duncan, doing her SEO job in the forest using a car battery and a homemade stepper for exercise. I'll just let that sit for a bit.
This is actually a picture of my sister, Shannon Duncan, doing her SEO job in the forest using a car battery and a homemade stepper for exercise. I’ll just let that sit for a bit.


Another theory of why time seems to speed up as we get older is that we measure time in memorable events. (I talk about this in my blog trying to convince you to sign up for a race) Whereas childhood is marked by many ‘firsts’ and memorable experiences, adult life tends to be more routine and a lack of memorable events causes the time to smooth out and condense.
So what things can you do this summer to create memories?


  • Throw a party. I actually hate hosting parties like most people hate exercising but I’m always glad when I do it. My favourite low-key party is bringing pizza and sangria to the park and inviting a bunch of families for a 5-7pm type thing. Easy, cheap and no clean up. Perfect for a June school night.
  • Run a race. Or tackle a section of the Bruce Trail each weekend. Or join a Bootcamp and commit to going every day. Do the Ride for Heart. Learn how to salsa. Make Summer 2015 the year you accomplished something and made yourself proud.


Most importantly, in all this summer planning, schedule unscheduled time.
There is another theory that time speeds up as we age due to stress.
The feeling that we don’t have enough time to get things done can be reinterpreted by our brains as time passing too quickly. So whether you tick off everything on your perfect summer list or not, take the time to breathe and savour every minute of the summer you have. Like this one. 🙂

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