Surfers study the incoming waves intently, watching the rise and fall of the surf before they even think about mounting their surfboard. Like these master athletes, we have observed our communities, our governments and our own responses through this tumultuous pandemic. Having felt the highs and the lows of the year behind us, we are ready to take on new surges and find our way back to shore.
We have had an incredible journey the past year and half. We faced challenges, we broke barriers and stayed within boundaries that were superimposed on every aspect of our lives. In Canada we have had tremendous turmoil regarding the discovery of mass graves, the severe heat wave and forest fires connected to climate change.
Languishing became a dominant feeling and let us not be passionate about our grief. We have lamented and languished. The late Prince Philip was known to discourage lamenting and we must get on with it. We are unable to create what we have had or change what has happened. We must tread forward gently, lovingly, supportively and with great compassion.
July provides an opportunity to start afresh. It also brings much needed fun! The smell of summer fruits and food, the laughter of children playing outside, swimming in the ocean and lakes, hiking in the mountains, lovely bike rides, tennis and golf provides fuel to ignite joy. Besides, July is also known as picnic month and ice cream month! The summer is a blank slate, an opportunity to carve how we go forward. Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning for the warm months ahead.
- Laugh loud and often. Laughter is the best medicine. It stimulates many organs and it enhances your intake of oxygen. My favorite is when I am in stitches. I know that when I am feeling good others benefit too.
- Lotion is Motion. My neighbour Lisa is a big proponent of movement regardless of her situation or pain she incorporates Movement everyday. The ocean, lakes and mountain beckons. Get in some bike rides, roller blade, tennis or golf or wonder in the forest and parks. Movement helps strengthen our muscles, balance and well being. It also helps our mental well being.
- Beautify. Let beauty touch you with some simple things that you can do. For example, make an effort when getting dressed and ditch the COVID sweatpants! Beatify your home and surroundings, whether its with flowers, a fresh coat of paint. Indulge things that please you and it will amplify your good mood.
- Energize in good company. We get energized from the people that we hang out with. COVID gave us a time out from everyone. Be conscious of the company you keep. Use the opportunity to rewrite how and with whom you would like to spend your time.
- Indulge in a conversation. Talking and sharing stories is what makes us human. Texting cannot convey your tone, emotion or facial expressions, gestures, body language or eye contact. If you are not able to meet in person, pick up the phone and call, your family and friends would appreciate a call rather than a text.
- Do something. I have always been afraid of swimming alone in the ocean or lake and I have challenged myself to swim regardless. I am now able to swim alone for up to 40 mins. Melting my fears away. What can you do to serve you or overcome your fears? Most things we worry about never materialize.
- Don't arrive at the cottage empty-handed. When you’re going away for the weekend, everyone is responsible for supplies, including food, beverages, games, equipment and so on. Make sure you make a list well in advance so you don’t arrive and realize nobody brought sunscreen.
- Make sure you offer to make a meal. Food preparation should be a shared responsibility. Take your cues from the host and offer to prepare a full meal (not just a dish). If they decline, make sure you’re supporting them as sous chef whenever possible. Don’t forget to double check about their dietary restrictions: vegan, gluten free, diary free, peanut free, zero alcohol, etc.
- Help clean. Just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you can sit around all day. The more everyone contributes to cooking and cleaning, the more you can all enjoy the lake!
- Don’t try to mess with cottage culture. Perhaps you might not keep the front door closed at all times, but cottages have well established rules from years of use. Don’t try to mess with tradition - there is probably a good reason those rules exist.
- Bring a positive attitude. You’re going to be spending a prolonged period of time with company, so govern yourself accordingly. Politics, religion and trash talk or making judgements should be avoided. Additionally, there are often unexpected challenges to staying in remote locations but take everything on with a smile and you will have a great time.
- Provide a thank-you gift. Because space is usually at a premium, practical presents are most appreciated. Wine, craft beer, artisan cheese, homemade cookies, from-scratch salsa and guacamole, or prepaid gas card for the boat are all perfect. Beware of bringing the dreaded watermelon! It will take up valuable space and will almost always neglected to be eaten.
I hope you all find time to celebrate new freedoms in the sun. Best wishes as you reconnect with loved ones in the glory of summer.