Make Like Zoe: Savor the Shade

I was walking my dog recently on one of those scorching summer days that turns the pavement into a frying pan. She was panting along, racing as fast as her heat-sensitive paws would carry her. Then we reached a shady splotch. Within a second, she went from overheated, get-me-outta-here struggling to full-fledged savoring. A smile stretched across her bulldog face and added glints to her eyes. She looked up at me as if to say, “Oh yeah… Now we’re talking! Isn’t this the BEST?” Out went my concerns over rushing back home and to work and the heat effects on both of us. Here in the middle of heat incarceration, Zoe was taking a beloved vacation.

          

I decided to join her. Plunking down on the grassy patch, I inhaled the sweet fragrance of the magenta flowers I hadn’t noticed in my umpteen-thousand walks by. I admired a swirling design on the side of the tree, watched a butterfly flit past, swallowed a gulp of fresh air and felt myself calming and cooling down with my shade-loving pal. It struck me then that without the heat, we never would’ve had that experience. If it takes rain (tough times), to get rainbows (colorful rewards), perhaps it takes heat to observe and appreciate what we already have.

No matter how sweltering life gets, we can seek shade—those bits of respite that cool things down, if even for a few minutes. If we choose not to pause and savor it, we could rob ourselves of valuable lessons, new experiences and gratitude.

3 Ways to Seek and Savor the Shade

  • When finances are tight: Rather than go to a restaurant, take a picnic to a park. Instead of the theater or book store, hit your local library. Volunteer to help others.
  • When creative juice seem slight: Take a break. Go for a walk or hike, take a bubble bath, see a movie, connect with like-minded friends. Go somewhere peaceful. Meditate.
  • When you feel overwhelmed, torn or stifled: Make like H.G. Wells, who said, “Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you’ve been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are.”  Stop doing whatever it is you’re doing and hating. Ask yourself if that job or activity supports who you are and wish to be. “Hot” feelings can guide us to cooler places, if we let them.

Related links worth reading:
Emma Burcart: I Don’t Want to Run My Butt Off
Jill Kemerer:  My Summer Strategies to Beat the Weather
Foodista: 7 Cold Soups to Beat the Summer Heat

When life or the weather swelters, do you focus on the heat or the shade? What “shade” have you savored during a challenging time? What did it teach you? And seriously, how wise is my bulldog? 😉

Leave a comment

60 Comments

  1. Lovely post – excellent ideas. It’s so simple to reconnect, sometimes we over think it. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Your sweet Zoe is very wise! What a cool thing to experience ~ I love those moments of serendipity. What do I do to find shade? I look for the small details like you and Zoe did. That always refreshes my spirit and brings about a new perspective with which to view life and/or the specific task I needed to step away from. Even in difficult situations I try to find the kernel of goodness, the lesson if you will. I find by focusing on the positive it makes even the harsh situations easier to bear. Granted, sometimes it’s very, very hard to find the good when you’re in the middle of suck.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Tameri! She’ll be stoked to hear that. 😉

      Focusing on the positives, including those lessons, is a great habit to cultivate. I think it leads to better outcomes on multiple levels. And though it’s easier some times than others, the hardest are probably the most important.

      Reply
  3. Very insightful post; thanks for sharing your moment and your wisdom. Z

    Reply
  4. Wow, brilliant! Only the wise can learn from animals. Kudos to you! 🙂

    Subhan Zein

    Reply
  5. #ps: I love your new theme! Lovely! 😉

    Subhan

    Reply
  6. Very wise. Great post to start the day with 🙂 Thanks.

    Reply
  7. What a sweet dog! And very wise. Thanks for such an uplifting post for another hot Monday morning:)

    Reply
  8. Good advice. Just coincidentally, I happened to come across this post today, regarding pets and whether to leave the air conditioning on for them while you’re away. http://t.co/8nVtJ5od

    Reply
    • Valuable article – thanks! I’ll be passing it on for sure.
      My dog has her own AC and fan. Happy to hear that’s all good. 😉

      Reply
  9. Zoe is so adorable! I find that when I slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, like shade, I’m a much happier person. Long live the dogs who teach us so much about what life’s really about ❤

    Reply
  10. Sage advice! Seeking shade beats slathering on sunscreen any day. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Running from Hell with El

     /  July 2, 2012

    I love this post, because it touches on a major aspect of the running and hard training I do every summer: avoidance of sun and heat. I do all of my long runs at Burke Lake (my background picture on Facebook is of the water there), which has a five-mile loop that is 95% shaded. Without the shade, I would not be able to train, especially since I don’t like rising early in the morning.

    I love you and Zoe sat in the shade!

    As far as solace from the difficulties in life: for me, running provides that.

    Have a great day!

    Reply
    • Great use and celebration of shade, El. I rely on activity for calmness, too—one of those seemingly contrary combos that bodes the brain, body and moods well. I bet you do some awesome writing during those shady runs… 😉 Love it. Stay well!

      Reply
  12. Great metaphor, August. Brilliant writing.

    I’m trying to figure out how to approach editing my first book-length manuscript ever and the pressure is on, since it’s sold. This has me in various states of unproductive panic. Last night, in the virtual shade of my bed, a voice in my head said, “Just make it better, not perfect.” I can do that.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad that voice spoke to you, Leanne. Sounds like a wise and capable mind to me. 😉
      The more pressure we put on ourselves, the more likely we are to explode. And not in a good way. lol

      Congrats again on your sale. And thank you. I really appreciate the support.

      Reply
  13. Dogs always have amazing lessons to teach, if only we’d listen. Our Rascal loves the tall grass. He lays on his back where there is any kind of bloom and scratches in the grass then sniffs at the flowers. He loves to lay in the sun. Maybe that’s his shade. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Gotta say heat is why Beastie Girl and I take our walks at 5 am, LOL. Of course on the flip side, 5 am walks are a great way to clear the mind. Love the post August!

    Reply
  15. Those are all great ideas! Unfortunately, where I am now there is no need to seek shade, because it is cold and rainy. But I will remember this post when I am living in Florida. 🙂 And I love the idea to go for a walk when creativity takes a dive. I think that may be something I need to do today. I’m having a hard time being creative with a fever. Thanks for the shout out about my post.

    Reply
    • Sounds like sunny splotches, real or figurative, are your shade for now, Emma. Soak it in. You may miss it in Florida. 😉
      Walking really is a great way to chill, meditate or even write (mentally). It’s especially awesome if you’re a bit on the stir crazy side. Hope you feel better soon!

      Reply
  16. It is always good to stop and smell the magenta flowers!

    Reply
  17. So much wisdom in this post. We do need to stop and savor things, something I am often too Type A and busy to do. But much can come from these respites, so it’s well worth taking the time. As for your suggestion of going to the library as a low-cost thing to do, it is spot on. The library is a cool reprieve on a hot summer day, and hours can be whittled away inside of it–all for free. 🙂

    Reply
  18. Aww! Zoe looks like a total sweetie. It looks like she knows the best place to be during a heatwave, too. 🙂

    Yay for the shade! And for our pets, who bring such joy to our lives. As I’ve mentioned (probably too many times), I live in a zoo…and watching my furry family members makes me smile a lot. Watching them play is one of my favorite ways to relax and chill out. Of course I enjoy my air conditioner, too. 🙂

    Reply
  19. Or just do like Zoe did and you followed to lay down and smell the sweet fragrances of natures life. So uplifting, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  20. what a smart pooch. We need to remember to stop in the shade when life is overheating us too.

    Reply
  21. Here in Tucson, seeking shade is the name of the game. Sometimes it takes a little heat stroke to force one to lie down and appreciate what nature wants us to see. I work outdoors, so I’ve been doing it all summer!

    Reply
  22. Looks like the Oreo cookie isn’t the only one chasing rainbows! 😉

    Reply
  23. Karen McFarland

     /  July 2, 2012

    Sometimes animals are smarter than we are. I will follow Zoe’s advice. Seek shade in the simple things in life. Stay cool August! 🙂

    Reply
  24. Raani York

     /  July 2, 2012

    One of those blog posts I just enjoy – following your recommendations, leaning back and doing like Zoe. Lean back and smile.
    Thanks for sharing another great advice!! 🙂

    Reply
  25. Catherine Johnson

     /  July 2, 2012

    Very smart, August and that photo of you and zoe is gorgeous. I love your top.

    Reply
  26. Your bulldog is super cute and smart too! I seek the shade quite often here in Houston! Your three ways to savor the shade are perfect.

    Reply
  27. Hello there,
    I am very excited to let you know that I have nominated you for the Inspiring Blog Award. I have included a brief explanation of what makes your blog so inspirational to me here:
    http://nyparrot.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/you-think-you-know-me-but-you-dont-writing-a-blog-is-rewarding/
    Thanks for inspiring me, and may inspiration be always present in abundance in your life!

    Reply
  28. Our animals seem to teach us things that we in our human arrogance boast we already know. 😉 And then we just kinda slap our own foreheads and go, “really?”
    Your bulldog is a doll by the way! As well as a smarty.
    I try to find whatever I can to be happy about. I’m moving forward, making progress, figuring out who I am. That’s positive in itself and even if at some times that’s all I’ve got, its good enough for me. 🙂
    Thanks for the reminder! We all need them sometimes.

    Reply
  29. The heat is not my favorite. It didn’t used to always be this way. I loved running in the morning as the temps began to climb. The feeling of sweat & moisture all over me. Then being the first one at the pool & jumping into the cool water – that was a heavenly feeling! But now heat brings out pain fatigue that makes it difficult to be. I don’t take it personally. That’s what the summer is and what it does. But that same summer sun also brings amazing berries, fresh veggies, long days, green & lush trees, and flowers blooming every where! We wouldn’t have these bounties of nature without the intensity of the sun.
    Thanks for a great post & for showing us your sweet dog – Zoe. Thank you also for reminding us to be creative in our shade times.

    Monique

    Reply
    • Kudos to you for seeking and focusing on the bright side, Monique. Zoe’s definitely helped me do so. Your positivity is contagious!

      Reply
  30. A very inspiring bull dog you have there! Just this morning I was thinking about how lucky I am to be able to ride my bike to work. By the time I get to work, I have already enjoyed the summer trees, the lovely gardens that people work so hard to grow and the exercise really releases any stress I might be feeling – in spite of the heat! It really beats driving to work and being stuck in traffic!

    I try to focus on something positive everyday. Thanks for the extra tips to keep me focused!!

    Reply
  31. inkspeare

     /  July 3, 2012

    Zoe is such a cute dog, and it seems as Zoe had lots of fun, and may I say that I totally love your outfit.

    Reply
  32. Loved the post and the pics August. Zoe is adorable and I feel so inspired to get out and smell the roses with my own furbaby, Tess. There’s nothing quite like unplugging and just letting yourself enjoy the life that is all around you in its very simplicity and essence….ahhhhhh!!!
    Thanks for the reminder and the FAB tips!

    Reply
  33. Love that pic of you and Zoe! Aren’t animals just the best teachers? This is kind of a sad story (sensitve people, don’t read on!) The day my 15 yr. old yorkie went into heart/kidney failure and we were driving him to the vet for the last time, he was on my lap and he closed his eyes and lifted his face to the sun and just got this very peaceful look. So, when I get stressed out, I do this…just close my eyes and feel the sun. And think of him, of course.

    Reply
  34. Kourtney Heintz

     /  July 4, 2012

    Great post August! Thank Zoe for reminding us of how important it is to savor the good along the way. It’s amazing what dogs can teach us. Emerson always stretches before getting out of bed. I’ve tried to adopt that too.

    Reply
  35. How awesome is Zoe?!! Yep, she is one smart doggie, and top-notch advice as usual, August. I especially liked the one about visiting the libraries. Such undervalued places of knowledge! 🙂

    Reply
  36. “Stop doing whatever it is you’re doing and hating” is a brilliant line, August. Imagine a world if we all remembered these words every moment.

    Like your Zoe, my Cooper provides me moments that I would never have known. We now begin our days by going to the park at dawn so we have all the shade we could ever want. It really is hard to express what these mornings have given me but this post about you and Zoe sharing the shade brought many of them back. Thanks for that.

    Really fine post, August.

    Karen

    Reply
    • I love Cooper! What an awesome morning ritual you two have created.

      Thanks for the warm words and support, Karen. I’m so glad you have much to savor. 🙂

      Reply
  37. Excellent observations and suggestions, August! Sometimes the rain is beautiful as well as the rainbow!

    Reply
  38. Really loved this share: “Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you’ve been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are.”
    Am totally suffering cabin fever here in Dallas. If I don’t get my cycle ride in a sun up, it isnt going to happen. I miss the days of a cool ocean breeze in the evening over taking the heat of the day. Reminds me of the first time I moved here and took an over shirt with me to an outdoor festival in spring. When I got to talking to some friendly folks who hospitably offered me a cold beer, the said, “your not from around here are ya?”. I asked, ‘how could you tell” they said, “You won’t need that over shirt. It isn’t going to cool down when the sun goes down” Doh!

    Reply
  39. Oh, by-the-way, absolutely beautiful American Bull Dog! gorgeous.

    Reply
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