We simply cannot get enough love, especially summer love. Maybe it's because summer love feels friendlier when we are walking to the beach carrying a chair, a favorite book and an iPod to keep our own delicious thoughts company. Seriously, don't your olfactory sensibilities become completely engaged with fresh suntan lotion? The smell of Coppertone and I'm 13 all over again.
Summer sea breezes make most of us swoon. Shakespeare's famous, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate" flies to mind. Come on, everyone knows that first scent of the bay driving across a causeway. Everyone knows that sight of swooping gulls welcoming us to summer love and the sound of our own flip flops marching toward a tumbling and tantalizing surf as we step over the shells sprinkled all over the sand dunes. Outside of a summer's natural beauty, I think we enjoy the season because we recall the summer times and loves of our youth. We remember the innocence of pure summer love.
People are happier when they are in love, especially in the summer. Now is there a difference between being in love and feeling that we love someone? Women ask me all the time to explain the difference. Yes, I respond: I'm in love with you has more infatuation and projection attached; I love you has more of day-to-day companionship attached. This isn't just speculation. Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist who studies love, says that each form of love - whether in the summer or not - has an unspoken mystery attached. And a mystery, by its definition, is not to be understood. Dr. Fisher believes that mystery is part of infatuation (which is critical to romantic love) but long lasting love provides a feeling of security. This dependable love is important, too, especially in this summer of economic insecurity.
Economic or otherwise, people want security. Feeling secure calms down our nervous system and reduces our anxiety. But take note, the heart is complicated because it harbors both dark and light places. On the dark side of the heart are emotions such as jealously, rage, envy, and revenge. These negative feelings feed on themselves; they harbor ill will. So, don't spend your precious time feeling green about someone else looking curvy in a bathing suit. Get yourself out walking two miles a day and you'll be not just looking fit but you'll feel fabulous. And these rewards will make you feel even happier which can attract this summer love I've been talking about! If you happen to have the blessing of a summer love already in your life, feeling happier will keep that person glancing in your direction because, let's face it, we all like being around happy people.
So, let's reach out to everyone this summer. Let's make summer love a goal and particularly to give summer love to those with broken or grieving hearts who have suffered a significant loss of any kind and might be grieving. The dissolution of someone's marriage, the death of someone dear, the ending of their job, a profound loss of health or even the loss of blessed hope itself is a crushing reality for people.
It takes very little effort to lift a lonely heart but when you do you reap immediate rewards. I recall Sarah Ban Breathnach's words, "The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do." So here are this dreamer's suggestions to spread summer love: treat someone to an ice cream cone who doesn't have an extra two bucks. Invite someone on a bike ride with you or on a simple walk. Plant a few tomato plants in an elderly neighbor's yard and ask her or him to your next family BBQ. Take a volunteer job a few hours a month to treat a fatherless child to a ball game, fishing or just to do crafts together. Visit a lonely forgotten soul in a nursing home once a week who feels life is lost to them now.
Believe me, not only will you know the bounty of that merciful giving but you'll have made a pure, no strings attached contribution of real summer love to someone who needs to remember that they and their Every Day still Matters.
Mary Jane Hurley Brant is a Certified Group Psychotherapist and Grief Specialist for 30 years. Masters in Counseling and Human Relations, Private practice in Paoli, PA Available by phone or in person. Her book, When Every Day Matters: A Mother's Memoir on Love, Loss and Life (Simple Abundance Press) available on Amazon.
“In her moving book on what matters most in life, When Every Day Matters, MJ Hurley Brant confronts the unthinkable with courage, compassion and candor. This book is an exquisite evocation of life after loss” says Sarah Ban Breathnach, publisher and author of Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy and Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self and Publisher of Simple Abundance Press.
“This is a book that will break your heart and put it back together again. This is the story of a daughter who wouldn’t give up and a mother who never lost faith. The reader can’t help but be inspired by the indomitable human spirit that resides within Mary Jane Brant.” Larry Kirshbaum - Founder LJK Literary Management and PW Person of the Year.
“A stunningly moving tribute to the love shared by an exceptional mother and daughter.” Caryn Karmatz Rudy, Executive Editor, Grand Central Publishing