I regret to inform you that I have season amnesia, and it’s very possible that you do, too. In much the same way as I used to toss out fans when the air got the slightest bite to it (I know, I know), once a season comes to pass, I empty the trash that is my memory bank with one fell swoop and enter the next climatic phase without the foggiest clue of what to expect. This includes, but is not limited to: finding myself shocked when temperatures drop below 10 degrees (has winter always been this way?), publicly declaring the passing of winter every time we’re thrown an unseasonably warm day in August, and becoming befuddled as to why I’m sweating through unbreathable fabrics at work come January.
The first warm whispers of an impending summer have finally arrived in Australia, and, this year, I have decided to right my previous wrongs. You can bet yourself I’m going to be ready for summer once it slaps me across the face with its gloriously warm backhand. Might I warn you, though—if you’re looking to “Get A Bikini Body In Just 8 Weeks,” you have come to the wrong place. If you find one that works, please shlep it through, but in the meantime, here’s a more ~holistic~ guide I prepared earlier:
Take some time to rest
Not too long ago, I found myself in Byron Bay, the turmeric latte capital of the nation. This place is the Mecca of the rest and relaxation world, and leaning into your most holistic self is enthusiastically encouraged. (Some insight: they favour nut-based “mylk” over cow’s milk.) What surprised me most when some friends of mine made the enviable voyage to Byron at the start of the year was how many new friends they’d made through shared hobbies. The fact that this surprised me is shocking in and of itself, but, as a city person whose socialising takes place predominantly inside the booze-soaked walls of pubs, bars, and restaurants, I was taken aback by the coming together of young people over a wholesome activity. It’s like I forget who I was and what interested me before alcohol turned up on my social doorstep at the age of 17.
What I’m trying to say is: get the hell out of the city for a couple of days. It doesn’t have to be ritzy (camping is a good option for the cash-poor), but doing so is most pleasurable when done in nature. It often takes some physical and emotional distance from your day-to-day to allow you to reconnect with the things you love, and to give you renewed enthusiasm for your everyday life.
Book a massage
While in Byron, my back had the best massage of its life at the incredibly chic Comma (shout out to spa expert, Mel Kenny, for the hot tip). The all-female team of massage therapists were decked out in breezy, white linen uniforms that took my mind on a salty journey to the steps of Cuba’s Hotel de Nacional. As a gluten-free vegetarian who limits her dairy intake, it was nice to finally read a menu that was limitless in its scope. Did I want an invigorating body scrub? Was I in need of a reparative back treatment? Or should I direct attention to my languid arms? While a pleasant change, I was not used to that level of choice, and landed on the ‘EQUILIBRIUM’ as per founder Susie McIntosh’s recommendation. As promised, it unlocked shoulder tension, restored posture, and through it, I found balance. Once my shoulders/back were done receiving the royal treatment, I was given a very satisfying, tension-relieving neck, face, and scalp massage. It was heaven—I walked out as if atop a float constructed from gossamer and angel tears. As its name implies, Comma is a place to take “a moment to breathe, regenerate, find calm, and begin again.” I hope the rest of my life’s narrative is punctuated by many, many commas.
Cull belongings that don't bring you joy
Every time I move house (often), I am flabbergasted by how much shit I have accumulated (and then desperately held onto) over the years. I have a box of “memories” from my uni days that houses things like scraps of paper, Blu Tak, old essays that make me squirm, and multiple textbooks for a semester of German language that I never attended and subsequently failed. I have countless I’ll-wear-it-around-the-house T-shirts, jumpers, and slacks that I never wear around the house, half-used beauty products that don’t suit my skin type, and bags of floral dresses, denim cut-offs, and tank tops from 2008 that will never see the light of day. Despite this, I continue to lug them around with me as if I were Gollum, and they were the One Ring.
Along with 3 million other people, I recently picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, and, despite certain friends laughing at this recent obsessive foray into self-help books, found it to be helpful (if not a little unhinged at times). While I probably won’t be talking to inanimate objects anytime soon (as recommended), Marie’s words have helped me to adopt a clear, minimalist approach to my home (and by extension, life).
Get around breathable fabrics
I can’t really pinpoint the genesis of my linen obsession. Maybe it was the aforementioned uniform at Comma, my recent visit to Mimi Holvast’s studio in Bangalow, or my desire to dress like I’m about to board a yacht at all times. No matter the reason, I’m hooked. Give it a whirl this summer and know that your limbs will be able to breathe a little easier, and that you’ll always look so fresh and so chic.
Get a new hobby
All my lists of resolutions and #goals are marked by their vagueness. While my New Year’s resolution list this year included a couple of very specific things with dates for completion assigned, a lot of it was like, “Be less lazy. Go to more events!” This is well-intentioned, but lends itself to never being achieved. Make the hobby specific, be it bush walking, pottery, learning a new language, playing tennis, or trying your hand at life drawing (where you are actively encouraged to mix wine and creativity).
Embrace the flux
With the exception of a few scattered anxiety spirals, I possessed an exceptional ability to live in the present throughout my early twenties—an approach that did not compute with my mother. “You need to be more mindful of your future,” she would tell me whenever I told her about the latest overseas flight I’d drunkenly purchased, or the $400 I’d just dropped on velvet flares despite earning $15 an hour in hospitality. Fast-forward to age 26, and it seems I’ve finally (and unwillingly) boarded the roller coaster ride that is realising you’re on a fast path to becoming a ~real~ adult. I’m also experiencing the identity freak-out that comes with that knowledge, stuck between yearning for the YOLO mindset of days past and acknowledging that it won’t carry me to the places I want to go in my future. The pursuit of fulfillment and happiness and contentedness, and the uncertainty about who the F I am, and who I want to become, is exhausting. Sure, introspection and giving chase to self-betterment is great, but lately I have to remind myself that simply “being” is enough sometimes. Even if, at times, that means embracing the flux.
Incorporate rituals into your routine
As someone who has never really vibed on hanging out by myself (no offence, me!), the introduction of rituals into my daily life, while not life-altering, has forced this naysayer into indulging in small solo bites of luxury. As a woman of simple pleasures, my rituals are quite basic: a 45-minute stroll around the park in the morning while listening to podcasts (Monocycle by Leandra Medine and Bad With Money by Gaby Dunn are my hot go-tos at the moment), taking myself out for coffee, or having a bath every Sunday.
Learn something new
While in the throes of a life slump the other day, I messaged my friend with the kind of fervent franticness usually reserved for an emergency 000 call. “HELP,” I screamed down onto the keyboard. “I’M IN A FUNK & DUN NO WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!!!” Very calmly, he linked me to the following quote by T.H. White:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
Pick up a new book. Call your grandmother. Try out a new recipe (I cannot recommend purchasing a copy of Community more strongly). Pick up an instrument. Finally learn how to use the camera in your room that’s been taunting you for years. Fill your mind with everything that is weird and wonderful in the world.
Get better at going to the beach
This one is kind of selfish in that I made it entirely with myself in mind. Maybe it will also relate to you? I often find myself at the beach having forgotten one crucial element, be that swimmers, a towel, a book, or a container of sliced watermelon. While I manage to get by swimming in my undies, drip drying, people-watching for entertainment, or buying hot chips from the kiosk, it’s not as immensely pleasurable as it could be. For the entirety of last summer, my friend and I would sit on the rocks of Sydney’s Gordon’s Bay with a pack of cigarettes and a tennis ball, surrounded by people eating 17-course picnics, swilling wine, playing tunes out of their portable speakers, and floating around on inflatable devices bigger than my house. This year, I want to be that person. Here’s a little checklist I prepared earlier, so you too can feel the rush of pride that comes with being the best goddamn beach-goer on the sand: a selection of cheese and/or dips; a portable speaker; a ball/frisbee/pack of cards; a book; high-cut bikini bottoms (if anyone has a lead on where to buy these, let me know); a wide-brim hat; sunscreen (SPF 30+); a fun beverage; and the biggest towel you’ve ever seen.
Make a summer to-do list
A fun one! If you’ve been listening thus far, a specific hobby and a massage should already be at the top of this list. Now it’s time to add all the fun things you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t got around to doing yet. While you’re at it, make a playlist. The only criteria should be: songs that make you want to break out in dance alone.
Words, Madeleine Woon. Image, Helmut Newton.