Harrison Middleton University

Summer Break Ideas

Summer Break Ideas

We’re excited that you’ve joined the conversation! At HMU, we want to continue the great authors’ conversations in a contemporary context, and this blog will help us do that. We look back to Aristotle and the early philosophers who used reason and discourse to gain wisdom and now we endeavor to do the same every day.


July 1, 2022

Thanks to Alissa Simon, HMU Tutor, for today’s post.

Breaks are necessary for both mind and body. However, taking a break does not necessarily imply idle behavior. Quite the opposite! When we have a break from our regular routine, we are able to do things the revitalize us. Rest allows for change which can recharge batteries drained from the rigor of the work week. Typically, humans enjoy puzzles, activities, and games, so it is good to keep the mind working. In order to both rest and keep the brain going, I suggest any one of the following activities.

~ Write in a new style. If you write essays, try a poem. If you write short stories, try creative non-fiction.

~ Read a genre that you typically do not read. Do you avoid these genres: zombie thriller, romance, theology, poetry, fantasy, non-fiction, short fiction, etc.? Pick up the newest thing on the market and see what happens. Try to apply critical thinking and find a great idea in the work. Or, just read it with your feet up and see where it takes you.

~ Work with your hands: try knitting, carpentry, painting, sketching, cooking, pottery, etc. Summer is the perfect time to join a short class or start a small project.

~ If you are like me, you spend a lot of time reading and writing, which is sedentary work. So try your hand at a new active activity, whether it is miniature golf, swimming, hiking, cooking, candle making, etc., now is the time to be on our feet!

~ Simply watch a movie. (Again, if you’re like me, the notepad next to the remote is for thoughts inspired by films. However, maybe you and I need to challenge ourselves not to take notes while watching!)

~ I know that I said you should take a break, but sometimes friendly and intelligent discussion is what we crave. In that case, there are many opportunities for you, such as Toronto Pursuits (which includes travel!), Classical Pursuits, St. John’s College, Great Books Summer Program, Great Books programs in Tampa Bay or San Francisco, Colby College, or many, many other excellent programs.

~ Visit your Humanities Council and maybe even attend an event.

~ Boost your own happiness by understanding what happiness actually means. Yale offers a free course through Coursera. In fact, there are many online courses which might make for relaxing listening.

~ Pick up a little bit about philosophy with any number of Philosophize This! Podcasts.

~ Read a book with your teen, tween or child. If you’re at a loss for where to begin, I will suggest a few more contemporary reads such as: The Penderwicks, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Nevermoor Series, or the Tea Dragon Society, among many, many others. They are quick reads full of action and drama. After focusing on intense and difficult material, such as Kant or Aquinas, it is absolutely satisfying to whiz through a well-written, sweet book in just a few hours.

~ For word play, take a definition and turn it into a concrete poem (as demonstrated in a recent blog with the word “recess”).

~ Play a board game – a real, literal, physical board game – and take a break from screens. (Maybe put a limit on all texts and emails.)

~ Make lemonade. No seriously. This is my favorite summer activity, so I will share my own recipe. How can something so simple be absolutely satisfying? I learned to let go of that mystery a long time ago and just enjoy. It’s my favorite. Squeeze fresh lemons until you have at least 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Add 2 Tbsp agave nectar (or to taste). Add 8 oz water and ice and stir! That’s truly it. (A fresh mint leaf takes it over the top if you have it.)

Happy summer reading, writing, crafting, painting, relaxing. See you soon!

(Also if these activities don’t make you happy….well next week I’ll discuss a little bit about the paradox of happiness.)

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