Top five: Stop whining and enjoy the summer already

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In the midst of these 100 degree days, it's easy to forget how much summer rules. We spend all of this time talking -- or worse, complaining to total strangers in line at a coffee shop, on the bus, at the gas station -- about how hot it is (as if talking about how much something sucks is going to make it better) when we should be remembering how summertime is truly great.

Maybe it's that, as adults, our time is no longer split between the school year and summer vacation, so we forget the beauty of the heat. A few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of the Summer Solstice, and have found some great ways to celebrate the changing seasons. I may be a witchy Catholic, but that doesn't mean you have you have to find your inner pagan just to give the sun a little ritual love.

So, in honor of summer solstice happening tomorrow, June 20, here are some ways I've found to celebrate the hotness, instead of, you know, talking about "how lucky we are that Colorado doesn't have humidity." Whatever that means.

5. Create your own D.I.Y. Summer Solstice Ritual For as long as I can remember, Summer Solstice was just called "The First Day of Summer," which sounds boring. Not familiar with Summer Solstice? According to Wikipedia:

"Summer solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet's semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26'. This happens twice each year, at which times the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole respectively."

In other words, it's the time when the earth is all, Hey, it's summer now! Let's celebrate! While I save charging my crystals for the full moon each month, the Summer Solstice is a great time to talk to the sun, to acknowledge that without it, the world would die and stuff. Maybe you could even bring back the old "running through the sprinkler" activity on the first day of summer, as a way to break in the season. Better yet, roll out a Slip N' Slide and belly flop down on that hot plastic like no one is looking.

I personally like to honor the entrance of summer by packing up all of my winter clothes and breaking out the terry cloth. Seasonally changing out my attire reminds me that not only do I get to pretend winter doesn't exist for a few months, but I also get to wear clothes made out of towel material in public.

4. Plan an entire "summer is awesome" day The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning, it's light outside until, like 8:31 p.m. Ditch your pre-stressed plans, call in sick, and enjoy the true summer holiday. Can't have fun without your Google calendar, iCal, or day planner telling you what to do? Make an itinerary of summer freedom. Here are some ideas from my own personal calendar, because as a freelancer writer, sometimes I schedule when I eat popsicles:

6 a.m. Watch cartoons (remember when you used get up early, on your own free will, to do this without a DVR?)

7 a.m. Eat popsicles for breakfast

8 a.m. Put on a bathing suit (because nothing says "summer" like wearing a bathing suit for clothes, all day long, even if you don't make it to the pool).

10 a.m. Walk to the creek (or ditch, or river) and collect weird, gross bugs.

11 a.m. Call all of your friends on their landlines to see if their moms will let them go to the pool.

12 p.m. Eat peanut butter sandwiches on the front porch.

1-3 p.m. Find your floaties, and hit the pool!

3 p.m. Take a nap in the sun (in your bathing suit).

4 p.m. Play on the playground (but be careful that the metal slide isn't too hot).

5 p.m. Hot dogs!

6 p.m. Put on your Walkman and ride your bike.

7 p.m. Go swimming again.

8 p.m. Have a dance party in your yard (or, if you're like me, practice the pre-choreographed dance routine you've created to "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins, because your neighborhood is truly your stage).

9 p.m. Pitch a tent in the backyard (and even better, have a sleep-over!)

10 p.m. Read Goosebumps to your tent-mates and pass out. You've had a long, authentic summer day.

3. Go to Lakeside or Waterworld (or anywhere else that feels like childhood summer to you) Lakeside is close to my heart, but maybe Elitch Gardens is more your bag. How about the Denver Zoo? Or the Botanic Gardens? The Alpine Slide? In Colorado, the choices are endless. When I was a kid, my best friend's mom used to take us to Water World, but she referred to it as "the country club." I can't think of a better country club membership deal than a Big Kahuna Splash Pass for under $125.

It seems like as adults, there has to be a special occasion for us to enjoy places that might possibly lead to too much fun. Remember when summer meant riding roller coasters without being drunk first? Or going swimming meant going swimming, not beached-whaling it poolside while working on the fake tan you've had since December? Jog your memory for stuff your family used to do in the summer (that you didn't hate participating in) and just try it. You'd be surprised by how much fun summer can be when you don't have to accept an invitation to it on Facebook.

2. Baptize yourself in someone else's pool Or, just go swimming -- baptizing just sounds fun/dramatic. But seriously, what is zillion-degree heat better for than swimming? If you don't belong to an exclusive pool club or dislike the idea of sharing a public park pool with a bunch of questionable children, find a pool near you. The gate on an apartment pool is merely an illusion -- most of the time, you don't even need a key to enter. In my vast pool-hopping experience, most pools are under-utilized by apartment dwellers, so they are generally clean, easily accessible, and easy to get by swimming in, if you act like a grown-up about it. For more tips on how to enjoy the many pools your city has to offer that aren't yours, see my guide to swimming in other people's pools.

1. Appreciate summer for what it is -- not winter In Colorado, it seems that we like to wear winter coats with flip-flops year-round. But think of summer apparel like you did when you were a kid: tube tops, shorts and sun dresses. I remember being excited for summer, because it meant going to Kmart and picking out a brand new pair of jelly shoes. If you're not familiar with this footwear, it's a shoe made out of soft plastic that slips on like a ballet flat. They make your feet sweat uncontrollably, and the constricting woven pattern usually leaves a nice dirt design on your foot. Clearly, these shoes were not made for adulthood, making them the perfect choice for summer celebration wear.

If you're a dude, this is a great time to wear your swimming trunks/board shorts as pants. That way, if you happen upon a swimming pool, you're ready to go. I sell a ton of board shorts-as-pants to men at Shirt Folding Store, and for the longest time, I assumed guys just didn't know you weren't supposed to wear swimming trunks in place of regular shorts. But in reality, these dudes just know what's up -- It's summertime, meaning, THERE ARE NO RULES.

Trade out your yoga mat for a beach towel and sunscreen. Be prepared. Summer is all about not having anything to do but play outside until your dad stands out on the back porch and whistles for you to come home for dinner. Stop whining about how hot it is and buy that above-ground pool off of Craigslist that you've always wanted.

Still need some celebratory summer inspiration? Look no further than the greatest summer song of all time:

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