0045. Summer: surviving + thriving
"There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."
My friend used to say this in college and it couldn't be more true.* In order to enjoy each season (and life) to its maximum capacity you need the right clothes, tools, and for me, guidelines. I think it's one of the main reasons I've had such a change of heart about summer, it's crazy to think it used to be my least favorite season! I shifted my perspective, adapted and will relent that it is in fact my favorite. With all the amazing perks, how could it not be? (I still love you, fall, winter, spring.)
Like my other kits, I keep most of these items in an old nylon backpack or cloth bag - ready to head out on adventures as soon as adult stuff is done.
+ Functional wardrobe. Flowy dresses, buttery soft shorts, light long-sleeved layers to avoid mosquito bites ... I always found summer the hardest season to dress for but I've finally compiled a collection of pieces that are soft, comfortable and that I actually want to wear in the heat. It's nothing crazy, in fact it's tiny but I think it's the only season I have figured out in that I'm never wondering what to wear. These are more or less the only shorts I
+ One piece. I always felt uncomfortable in a bikini. Not because of my body, because I was always worried my top or bottom would move (which happened often) and that I'd be unknowingly flashing peeps. Not a problem with a one-piece and I find it so much easier to dunk into water with some fabric over my belly/back. After my favorite suit was stolen I felt a strong urge to treat myself to a new one. As luck would have it, my budget wouldn't allow it. 'Patience' pays off ... in July I found this new, green suit for $2 at a yard sale and it's perfect.
+ Water earplugs. Blame a couple of horrible ear infections but I really hate getting water in my ears! So does a friend who ended up with a few too many earplugs so he happily passed a pair along. What a difference! I feel slightly dorky sporting them around but I also love them so much.
+ Rx sunglasses. Years ago/as soon as I decided that I was never going back to contacts, I invested in prescription sunglasses. They are the only pair I own and it beats having a bunch all over the place (the theme of my summer essentials: less options is a great thing sometimes). I got them at Warby Parker which has a great mission and is super affordable. Initially I didn't like the looped arms but now I love that I can wear them in the water and they wont slip away.
+ Hat. I found this perfect hat to rep my hometown/favorite underdog in a closet at AB's house and it hasn't left my side since June. I love straw hats but they seem hard to pack and truthfully this sporty style feels more me.
+ Turkish towels. My favorite thing to talk about. I usually travel with two and pack one for the creek, pond or bay to dry off after swimming and another in my backpack on long journeys to avoid freezing to death on overly air conditioned buses and trains. It's also a great looking (and quick-drying) sarong or an impromptu picnic blanket.
+ Water shoes. I bought a pair four years ago for our trip to Yosemite and I can't believe I've gone so many years without them. They're perfect for slippery creek walks and sharp, rocky bays. I have no shame in wearing socks with them for extra support (turning 30 is quite a bodily change) and to catch
+ Headband/bandana. A scrap piece of fabric I acquired somewhere that I've been meaning to sew for years - it works just fine not sewn. It keeps my hair from tickling me in the wind on window-open car rides, to wipe sweat off when active (tmi?), to keep my roots hair line dry when swimming, to tie my water bottle to my backpack .... this list could go on.
+ Snack packs. I love snacks! And on a hot summer day there is nothing more refreshing than popping an ice cold berry in my mouth. Love these containers that my SIL gifted me (she's the best gift giver!) and it perfectly fits into a koozie so it can go straight into my bag. An insulated bag is also great for longer trips/days and is easier to store than a cooler. In it I keep a thrifted dishcloth I use as a napkin and our reusables so we're always ready to go and I can find them easily - everything in its place.
+ Hydrate. So important. I bought a non-insulated water bottle so the first thing I do in the morning is fill it up and pop it in the fridge. It keeps me hydrated and serves as a cooling pack on sweaty walks. I've become addicted to sparkling water lately so I'll pack a can too (thank goodness I didn't get rid of all our koozies).
+ Listen to your body. I love the beach - a lot, a lot. But whenever it was time to cool off in the water I'd feel anxious. I'm not the best swimmer and I always feel vulnerable without glasses. (Also, rip currents are scary!) I listened to my body and decided that I don't need to swim in the ocean when there are other options. While visiting my mom I consistently chose the bay over the beach and felt so much happier. Much less crowded and so peaceful and restorative ... it's basically a free, lapping nature bath. I'm hoping I'll overcome my anxiety someday but, like me, it's a work in progress. Also, during a heat wave I indulged in A/C bed reading which divulged into a nap - just what I needed that week.
+ No shave. Society has absurd hairless standards for women. I'm lucky I never really started shaving my legs until college so my ankles are peppered with wispy hairs. While I used to make sure my armpits were hairless throughout the summer I've since relaxed on that front. This year, I've waxed for weddings but otherwise I'm staying natural/trimming when I feel like it. No one is looking and if they are and it bothers them, well, that's their problem, not mine. It was a very slow path to this comfort level but along the way I've saved so much! Razors, waxes and strips really add up.
+ Late afternoon sun. To avoid sunscreen I try to take refuge from the sun during it's peak hours. You'll find me in the shade and woods or with a breezy, long sleeved cover up. On hot days swimming at dusk is unbelievably pastel and surreal - a new treasured tradition.
+ Stay within driving/public transportation distance. I would love to go to the Mediterranean sea someday, but I also can't fathom leaving the Northeast during the best time of year. I'm so lucky to have friends/family in beautiful places and essentially I've been to the same places every summer - I don't mind one bit! It's so wonderful to have these traditions: from East Hampton, Cape Cod and Bar Harbor, I truly can't believe the varied nature I get to experience and I'm excited to check out some new places around Ithaca now that I'm a local. Do you have trips you repeat every year?
Evolve, grow, heal, change ... words I wrote down recently because the alternative is stagnancy and that rots. Other words that help: acceptance, perspective shifting, adapting. My family recently experienced a tragedy and words have always helped me heal. Toni Morrison said it best: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
After a week with my family, I'm back in Ithaca and in my new home! It's a mess of unpacked stuff, piles, projects and organizing waiting for some time to actualize. I, and it, will get there. Slowly, mindfully, at the pace that is necessary to process all the things going on around me. With the long countdown I can't believe the day has come and gone and that my sabbatical is officially over. Okay, it's not really, but I do feel a lot less free with monthly rent looming. At the same time, so grateful for the freedom that comes with a room of my own.
I'd love to know - how's your summer? What are your guidelines and essentials? Wishing you a lovely holiday weekend.
*I never found the answer because while researching I was distracted by this on point article which compares early childhood education in Sweden vs. in the US.