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Summer Plans Laid to Waste

By Lori Welch Brown

Seems like just yesterday I was convincing myself that this was going to be THE ‘summer.’ The summer I dropped my extra COVID 19 pounds of flesh and rocked my bikini aka my mommified high-waisted two piece with maximum-hold spandex. The summer that I felt like a million bucks in my sundresses (as in my arms didn’t look like bat wings).  The summer I’d start running again—maybe even sign up for a half marathon.  Heck—maybe a whole.  The summer I started eating healthy, maybe even committing to a plant-based diet.  The summer I actually relaxed.

I had a vision, but no plan other than a nightly regimen of chowing down on carbs with an ice cream chaser.  Oh well.  There’s always next summer…

It’s hard to focus on these (shallow?) desires when there is so much heaviness in the world.  It is challenging to get out, move, and have fun when you feel as if the universe has gone utterly bonkers.  But, finding joy is important—especially during the summer months.  It’s almost our duty to enjoy some down time, indulge in some ice cream, and dip our toes in the sand.  Joy and happiness—and FUN—are important to our mental health.  Unrealistic goals and beating ourselves up when we fail, however, is detrimental to our well-being.

During the dog days of summer when August presents itself as a horse hair blanket coated in hot embers, it is especially important to practice self-care whether it is a midday nap in the air-conditioning, thirty minutes in the hammock with a summer read, or an early morning bike ride. Sure—push yourself a little to pedal an extra ten minutes or log another mile on the treadmill, but do so with caution and an awareness of the big picture.  It’s hot out there, and your body can only take so much.  It needs down time especially during the dog days…why else would they call it dog days?  I guess they could call it cat nap days.

As I’m writing this, I’m staring out my window at the ocean and yet my toes haven’t hit the sand in over a week.  Partly due to poor weather conditions, but partly because the horse hair blanket I wear is sometimes of my own making.  I’ve been known to weigh myself down with obligatory tasks and anxious energy.  In other words, sweating the small stuff.  “Look,” I tell myself, “There’s plenty of sweating going on without having to add to it.” Truth.  The to-do list will be here when I get back.  Another truth.  Make time to walk on the beach.

For us over-achieving, Type A sorts, we often have to force ourselves away from our ever present to-do lists and hamster brains, and actually schedule time to do absolutely nothing or something that helps us to relax and tune out the noise of the world and forget about our obligations, deadlines and tasks for a period of time.

I’ve been starting out with a goal of riding my bike for thirty minutes.  I put my headphones on, pull up a book on Audible, and off I go.  The past few days, I’ve been so engrossed with my book that an hour passed before I realized.  The route is mostly flat, but it makes my legs work consistently.  My thoughts often wander, and the other day I found myself thinking of a time when I won’t be able to ride my bike.  I thought about my dad whose legs stopped working and he became confined to a wheelchair the last years of his life. It reminded me that I owe it to myself to enjoy these small pleasures while I can.

My husband, XXL, and I have started playing pickle ball.  By ‘playing,’ I mean attempting to volley the plastic ball to each other.  It’s great exercise especially since we don’t have a clue what we are doing, but we laugh a lot, and apologize a lot to the folks playing next to us when our ball inevitably flies across their court.  Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks, but just don’t expect blue-ribbon results.

This might not be the summer I hoped for, but it is the only summer I have, and I intend to enjoy as much of it as possible.  Who cares what you’re wearing (no bikini here) as long as you’re healthy and happy.

Life is short.  Summer is shorter.  Eat the ice cream, but ride the bike first.

About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for well over 20 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.

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