After 10 months hidden beneath several layers of clothing, this female of the homo sapiens species finally emerges. Summer. Time to shed the jumpers and rejoice.
Here’s a look at my summer loves and why it’s a time to cherish.
★ Summer Vibes ★
After over two very stressful years of Covid, many of us are yearning for a little lightness and hope. Instead, we’re faced with rocketing prices thanks to the ‘cost of living crisis’, healthcare systems buckling under the strain, strikes galore, governments in disarray. That’s without our own problems and challenges in life to contend with.
It’s a shock to the system when summer finally rolls around, but we can only spontaneously indulge in it for the odd random day before it rains again (because it wouldn’t be the UK otherwise). This just means that those of us who like or love the warmer, sunnier weather have to eek out every moment while it lasts. Easier said than done when life commitments or chronic illness get in the way, but I find I’m easy to please when the weather is gorgeous.
My body is a walking contradiction because it has a tantrum in the cooler weather and I’m still getting goosebumps while others are sweating unless it’s 20 degrees celsius or above. However, give my body higher temps and it starts to get funny, partly as it makes migraines and nausea that bit more yucky. Nonetheless, the fibromyalgia symptoms and achy-ness generally is oddly comforted by the sticky warmth. How do you find the summer affects you physically?
Of course there are the not-so-great things about summer : Insects, particularly the evil spider variety. Being ill becomes a headachy, sticky mess. Empathy for all those having to work in stifling heat indoors or outdoors. Ending up in hospital, where the wards are already oddly devoid of oxygen and you have to beg and barter for a fan. Driving in an overheating tin-can of a vehicle without working air con, like my last car. Feeling more zapped of all energy and concentration than usual because the weather has gone from chilly to heatwave in a matter of hours. Feeling like you’re missing out or not ‘making the most’ of the nice weather because you’re not well enough to go out or do much of anything. The chocolate stash you’ve hidden getting melted so you put it in the freezer to regain some semblance of solidness. First world problems though, right?
Whether you like it or loathe it, hopefully you can soak up some good vibes over summer this year. Here’s a look at just six of the things that I love about these brighter, sweatier days and the opportunities summer brings.
🌻 Summer : 6 Things I Love About You 🌻
1. The Mental Health Refresh
I find the sun brings a little hope and happiness by its mere presence alone. Dull and dreary days can drag us down, while bright rays and dry days can lift us up. Going about our days feels easier, lighter and brighter when it’s sunny, when we’re not cumbersome in jumpers and busy dodging the rain. Life and the issues we’re dealing with can sometimes feel just that bit less daunting and difficult.
With that boost to mental wellbeing can come a greater sense of motivation and inspiration. We may be going out more when the weather is better, getting a change of scenery, enjoying days out, seeing friends, or just getting some alone time in a park on sunny afternoons. The greater colour and vibrancy in the nicer weather can be inspiring and encouraging. If we’re able to take a little time out, the summer can be healing for our frazzled nerves and over-stressed brains.
Our enlivened senses are spoilt for choice, from the smell of cut grass and the feel of a fresh breeze on our skin, to the smell of a BBQ sizzling and the bright colours of flowers blooming. Summer can give us a boost, a little zing and a mental refresh to blow away the cobwebs, leaving us more able to open ourselves to new ideas, avenues to explore or challenges to take on.
We often see more smiles on faces in the better weather, with the exception of the heat-induced fights in Tesco over the last pack of bread rolls for the BBQ, or the downright irate violence brewing between sweaty drivers over a parking space.
Granted, heatwave weather can make us more unwell and irritable, but on balance, I still love shedding some layers, feeling lighter and a touch more hopeful, even if that last one is as fleeting and fickle as our British weather.
2. An Ode To The Mighty T-Shirt & Flip Flops
Pre-getting-sick, my fashion choices consisted of jeans and t-shirts with optional shirt and jacket for much of the year, paired with Converse or Dr. Martens boots. These days, it’s cardigans (several), jumpers (however many until I can no longer bend or lift my arms) and enough added bulk that I rival the Michelin Man.
The idea of cracking out a t-shirt now is definitely one I look forward to, especially as I still have a semi-decent but small collection after numerous were culled since having the stoma bag. Funnily enough, tight t-shirts with a plastic Bag For Life stuck to your stomach don’t go too well, nor do some looser tees that get caught on the top of the bag and appear glaringly obvious that I’m either wearing a stoma bag or stealing a pack of ham.
I’m sure I still have a Spice Girls crop top from 20 years ago somewhere which may be more convenient for me these days. Anyway, it requires switching between a t-shirt or top at least twice in one day in order to get use out of them all, quickly before the cold weather beckons and they return to their vacuum bag coffin for the next 11 months.
Getting back to t-shirts, especially those that feel more “me”, is a bittersweet joy. Pair it with Converse, jewellery and a hefty serving of sarcasm, and I’m briefly reminded of who I was, the girl that was more carefree, spontaneous, fun, creative, a little ambitious.
While I’m on the point of summer clothes, the best sandals I’ve ever owned have been flip-flop style without the toe post by Crocs. I can assure you they look nothing like regular Crocs, but they do have the higher price simply for the brand label unless you can find them on sale like I did. Then again, I’m reluctant to buy anything on that’s not on sale anymore. The Crocs Swiftwater sandals actually fit my inconveniently-sized feet, don’t randomly fall off and are super comfortable, enough that they can be worn all day without complaint.
I think many people would at least agree that summer clothes can make us feel freer and more refreshed, giving us the vibe of being less weighed down by life and the usual problems. Viva La Tee! Viva La Semi-Naked Foot!
3. Simple Joys Of Al Fresco Living
There’s something a little special about eating and drinking outside, perhaps simply because it’s not as regular an occurrence in the UK where I am. Summer brings the opportunity for lots of outdoor activities and the chance to do what you do indoors, but outdoors in the sun. Drinks in a beer garden, lunch on the patio at home, reading in the park, picnic on the grass, work in the sun lounger. That is, if you can put up with the insects, sunburn, and glare on your laptop.
Summer is when we get slightly less rain-filled forecasts so we can plan a holiday or take a quick day trip. It’s a time for exploring experiences or revisiting old favourites. You don’t need to fly half way across the world to have a decent break, nor do you really need a holiday to enjoy yourself.
Small breaks, pacing, a focus on small joys, appreciating what’s around you and making the most of what you can will help you reap the wonder of the summer in your own time, your own way. That may just mean chilling, reading outside, relaxing on your bed with ice-cream and the fan on while you watch Netflix. The key is not to think about what you ‘should’ be doing or what others are doing, but just making the most of the situation you’re in, with the abilities and desires you have.
I’ve lost a lot of years not to not being well, but the 2+ years during the Covid19 pandemic really hammered that home. Those years went by in a blur, because looking back it was just constant busy-ness, constant worry and high stress and frustration. I love the idea of finally slowing down a little this summer : Taking a walk in the local park, sitting with my cat in the garden if he gives his permission for me to be in his presence, reading in bed on a warm afternoon with the breeze coming through the window.
4. Time To Enjoy Jubilant Jewellery
I am a complete sucker for jewellery. Always have been since I was a little kid. Whether I’m buying, browsing, wearing or admiring jewellery, I still smile and feel a sense of comfort. It’s a small joy for me that I appreciate all the more since my life shrunk with chronic illness. I make the effort to wear jewellery and accessorise a little in the nicer weather, partly because you’d never see the jewels for all the jumpers during the rest of the year.
I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know what feels like ‘me’. It can show a little of who I am. For me these days, jewellery isn’t about anyone else or what someone assumes when they look at me. I don’t get out much and I have no friends to meet up with (queue the tiny violin). I wear jewellery at home as I’d never get to wear it otherwise. Why wait? Why only do it for someone else? Why feel you need a special occasion? Wear it for yourself because it makes you feel good, because it reminds you of who you are. Because it reminds you that you are more than your illness or your job or the role you find yourself in in life.
I’m currently loving the Daisy London Jewellery range, all of which is made from 100% recycled materials. I always opt for sterling silver, but they also offer 18ct gold plate pieces within their beautiful catalogue of necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets. This isn’t the cheap and cheerful stuff I’m used to. This is exceptional quality, priceless pieces designed to be modern heirlooms kept and treasured for years to come. It’s an investment for the recipient for the now and the future, whether buying for yourself, a friend or a loved one.
I struggle with the notion of treating myself, especially without guilt afterwards. Most of my jewellery collection is super cheap and cheerful as I don’t feel comfortable spending much money on myself, but in there is also the odd precious, special piece. I treasure each item. But just wearing a necklace from Daisy’s range that I’ve been kindly gifted makes me feel brighter and oddly more confident. It feels like I’m treating myself and saying it’s okay to do something nice for myself without feeling bad about it or undeserving of it.
You can see the quality in the details, the high-shine polish of the silver in the sunlight, the effort the brand goes to in making the pieces and packaging them with care. It’s no wonder Daisy London is such a highly regarded name in the jewellery biz.
I love the vibe behind the Daisy London brand that stands for empowering, sharing, being real, being accountable. They view jewellery as a way to enhance and show who you are, to act as an accessory to your confidence that you can take with you on your life’s journey.
There are so many styles and designs of jewellery to bring a smile and bring back a sense of normalcy, to remind me of who I was and who I can still be despite declining health, despite having lost so much of who I should have been.
5. Simple Summer Self-Care
Self-care is a three-dimensional concept that transcends the bubble bath cliches or the superficial. That said, part of it is looking after yourself and taking care of the basics, as well as doing what makes you feel good. It’s about feeling worthy of doing it, without the guilt. It’s making the time to prioritise yourself despite an endless to-do list.
I know plenty of women who’ve said they don’t bother with themselves all that much during the autumn and winter, so by the time spring and summer come around, skin is dry like the Sahara and hairy legs require a lawnmower.
It may be similar for lots of people, perhaps not caring so much about the likes of skincare, mental wellbeing or diet in the less sociable and more bundled-up winter months.
It’s not always easy to invest in self-care, especially if you easily find excuses not to, if you lose time being unwell, or if you feel guilty for looking after yourself.
Whether it’s because of the brighter mood or the ability to go out more, summer can often shine a summer spotlight on self-care. Take care of those basics, develop a healthy skincare/supplement/medication/dental routine, get a little more exercise, treat yourself, liven up your diet, look after your hair and nails, advocate for your own needs, consider ways to regularly nurture your mental health and reduce stress.
I even feel like I want to dye my hair again. I haven’t, but I might. I’m just watching the 50 shades of ginger grow after so long of not bothering with my hair. I want to get into a better skincare routine for my face. I want to shave my bruised legs, to moisturise my knobbly elbows, to be more assertive, to slow down, to look after myself. Then again, I’m also a hypocrite who can make the suggestions but not take them myself. Summer is also the perfect time to procrastinate when there are things to do and ice-creams to eat.
6. I Scream For Ice Cream!
I eat ice-cream and lollies year-round because I’m weird like that, sat at home on a December day, shaking with cold and eating a Solero. It never tastes quite as good as it does in the summer though. When it’s hot and humid and you’re thirsty enough to drink out of the cat’s water bowl, an ice-cream is perfection.
There seems to be a dire shortage of Mr Whippy for the current generation, who I fear may not know real joy until they’re in their 30s and finally get to try a whippy with flake.
I’ll also take a thick chocolate milkshake while we’re on the subject of refreshment. Mmmm.
★ 🌻 ★ 🌻 ★
Summer can have the opposite effect for some people. As much as I love the above things about summer, it’s not at all the same since being poorly. It’s about making what you can of it, taking the bits you like and running with them, but without the pressure of what you ‘should’ be doing or the comparison to what others are getting up to. Delight in what you can, when you can. Then eat ice-cream.
What do you love about the summer?
[ The featured Daisy London Jewellery has been gifted for this post ]