This time of year, you can hardly strike up a chat or walk a few blocks without hearing moans, groans and laments about the temperature.
The higher it rises, the more we proclaim, “It’s hot!” as if somehow, by expressing this, the heat’s intensity will subside. Yet, no matter how much we whine, we still sweat, the bugs still chase us, and we still have to choose between sticking to the sheets as we sleep or letting our electric bill increase right with the air’s degrees. Because, despite our disdain for the flip side of a climate that never fails to deliver an envy-worthy winter, the summer here keeps right on scorching.
There’s a well-known phrase coined by Harry S. Truman that advises, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” A hearty way of saying, “No Whining,” Truman’s adage is simply encouraging those who “can’t take it” to get out. And get out of our summer some do; as they hit the road and flee Florida, refusing to look back until the months that end in “-ber” return. While the snowbird’s life indeed seems a charmed one, I question that we’re limited to experiencing summer as either a) a whine-fest or b) an evacuation order. The reality is, some of us can’t leave for the hotter months – but perhaps, that in itself is a gift.
What if, instead of sentencing ourselves to three months of misery, we decided to make the most of it? What if we attempted the unthinkable, and simply embraced what is?
In its purest sense, heat is a sort of pressure. At varying levels of intensity, it forces things to change. In July, when the weather’s really hot, we experience involuntary reactions – flushed cheeks, a dampened brow, sometimes followed by emotional upset, as you’re faced to kiss your lunch hour stroll routine goodbye; and subjugate all gardening tasks to the early morning.
As the weather conditions change, so does what we can accomplish, but, as with all overwhelming change and challenge in our life, it’s our reaction that makes all the difference.
For me, braving the Florida summer is about embracing the ultimate catalyst for change – discomfort. All the force it has to make us anxious and squirmy is the same power that births in us unforeseen potential for creativity. Because while gardeners may curse the heat for stealing hours of afternoon weeding, they also may see this issue’s “Summer Reading List” and learn how to plant a vegetable or two they never would’ve imagined. Or those outdoor exercisers angry at the thunderstorms for darkening their skies may read “Keeping Cool,” then try out – and love! – a local ice skating rink. Suddenly, the perils of summer give rise to new excitement and experiences – igniting an unexpected fire of opportunity.
That’s the funny thing about fire. All at once it represents hell, illumination, punishment, inspiration, both libido and purification, but most of all – change. The intense discomfort, reaction and adaptation it ensues takes us to our edge and asks us, how do we handle pressure? Will we burn in the heat of this experience, argument, relationship, problem, or will we rise to the occasion and meet this change in the tides in a new way? I say, the Lifestyles tribe is tough, averse to whining and all about staying in the kitchen. Follow me in standing the heat, and preparing for a brand new feast of opportunity.