Every summer of my life has been the same. I pine and reach madly for it, spending all winter and early spring romanticizing what is to come. Of birds on a wire. Cones of melting ice cream dripping down my hand. Bare feet hugging the dirt. Coffee on ice. Becoming one with my pool float.
There are also the couples kissing in the park, and the dramatic narratives I create around them. The tossing of pennies into my fountain reflection. The distant shrieks and shrills of neighborhood children at play. The quiet country roads that beckon for night drives with the windows rolled all the way down — further convincing that the world lays out before us as our playground.
As the grass grows wildy, the barren trees become abundant with greenery and the season nears, I vow to myself that it will be my most confident and explorative summer ever — that I will rebel against my tendencies toward nesting, and accept its daring invitation for overexposure. That I will hurl my tanned body into the belly of its parades, oceans and swimming holes, fancying the sun on my nose and shoulders. That I will sink my cozy hindrances into its carefree “no holding back” policy. That I will surrender fully to its open-aired vulnerability. That I will embrace my freckles with the same shameless passion as I do the devouring of the season’s fruits.
In the beginning, I do exactly that — unabashedly so. I’m all in. But, much like a love affair that runs for cover once it overheats, by mid-June, I start to pull away. I have to cool off and catch my breath. And, slowly then, I begin hiding from its blistering and unmerciful sun, finding the solace of a book in my air-conditioned living room. I moan about having become a Thanksgiving feast for tribes of mosquitoes. I huff and puff while crawling into the steaming carriage of my car – leather threatening to disintegrate my flesh. By August, I am burned out from its seemingly never-ending inferno — asking, “Is it October yet?”
And then I miss it all over again.
So, this year, before the sunflowers wilt and the fireflies fly away, I am going to take a nod from Deepak Chopra — one he blessed me with in an interview not long ago. He said, “Be here now. This. Right now.”
And it really is that simple. Because, whether wrapped up in a blissful infatuation with summer’s backless dresses, swimming holes, fertile carnival grounds and crowded parades, or burning out in a blistering and exhaustive sweat, all we ever have is now. I think summer has so much to teach us about boldly stepping out and stripping the layers of our inhibitions. Of accepting ourselves as we are, with nothing to hide.
So, let us be alert to its confident mantras. Let us appreciate its burn and create lasting memories that we will one day wish to call upon and swim inside of yet again.
Below are 44 inspirations to commence your summer self-love affair...
- Rope swings.
- Open fields of wildflowers beckoning for slumber.
- The smell of barbecue.
- The lights of a carnival at night.
- Postcards in the mailbox.
- Hot air balloon rides.
- Free concerts blasting through the open air.
- Firefly sightings.
- The flirtation of a breeze finding its way under your skirt.
- Bare skin and backless dresses.
- The sound of the ice cream truck in your neighborhood.
- The thrill of a water ride.
- The smoke of a grill.
- Peach stands.
- A painted cotton candy sky.
- The distant shrieks and shrills of neighborhood kids.
- Sand in your shoes.
- Feeding the ducks.
- The symphony of birds at dawn.
- Back against the cool grass, eyes fixed upon the stars.
- The smell of hot rain.
- Fireworks displays lighting up the blackness.
- Your local swimming hole sanctuary.
- The sound of a stream against the rocks.
- Bees swarming to flowers.
- Sinking your teeth into a perfectly-ripened watermelon.
- Beach bonfire storytelling.
- The intricate detail of a strawberry.
- Freckled noses.
- Porch hangs.
- Blankets spread out across the grass.
- Tan lines so artistically placed, you showcase them like a badge of honor.
- Weird flavors of ice cream that mysteriously work.
- Poolside Sangria sips.
- Dinner on the patio.
- Coffee on ice.
- The pool float that cradles your body just right.
- A hammock swing under the late afternoon sun.
- The accidental discovery of a life-changing summer anthem.
- When the warmth of your tongue softens the popsicle.
- The sound of ice in your glass.
- Toes dipping into the water.
- The distance roar of a lawnmower.
- The smell of freshly-cut grass.