Summer 2022 ︎ Summer Is
Summer is here. Its symmetry used to bring me a sense of comfort. You’re halfway through the year—here’s a look at who you’ve been and who you’ll become. It’s a season whose story is told repeatedly, yet the words don’t hold the same meaning. Now, it’s nostalgia and reckoning—a crossroads, a threshold.
I started writing this letter after a lifelong dream came true but before the abhorrent ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. I’d venture to say (especially given the past few years) that most of us have grown used to navigating a dual state of joy and despair. Still, something about this season always seems to delineate the two even further. In this way, summer’s symmetry feels ominous—here’s a look at how far you’ve come and how much is at stake in the months ahead. Yet no matter where I find myself, my questions remain the same. What will this time mean to us? What is summer today?
Summer is a growing pain. Explosions of green foliage blanket the streets. Leaves become entangled, and gardens are overgrown. Ripples of light and heat pour in from all directions. For so long, there is nothing, and then suddenly, here is everything.
What did it take for you to get to this point? Who left alongside the last crisp spring breeze? What foundations crumbled and had to be rebuilt? Sometimes, summer is a sunburn on the soul. You can’t reach it, but it’s there. It hurts. It heals.
Summer is a body. It’s stretched legs on wrinkled picnic blankets. It’s river-hued bruises and clusters of bug bites. It’s blood, sweat, and tears. It’s sacred. It’s yours.
The sun’s rays are a friendly wave, a fist in the air, a hand to hold—reach out but don’t be afraid to let go. Step into the shade, dust the earth off your jeans and take a step in a new direction. The pavement is hot, and the sidewalks are crowded. Find your balance on this path; there is so much work to be done.
Summer is a mind. It’s fresh soil and fertile ground for the imagination. It’s a constellation of daydreams and meditations. It’s golden hour descending atop the roofs of houses. It’s orange light, the spark of an idea.
But it’s overwhelming at times—everything sticks to you in the summer: the good and bad, inside and out. Decide what thoughts are worth pursuing, and then release what’s left into the wild. Smell the beads of sweat enmeshed with the scent of fresh flowers, tap on their petals, and watch dew drops flatten into iridescent pools. There is a slow rush of anticipation. Try not to overthink things.
Summer is a heart. It’s hot and heavy. It’s relief and rage.
It announces itself in a fiery blaze of emotion. It has a rhythm all its own. Feel it beating in tandem with your breath. Feel it dancing in your chest as you dance with the one you love. Yet we know that when daylight breaks, so can a heart. Let the heat of the moment fuel the moments to come.
Summer is a sky. It’s baby blue and cotton candy and charcoal gray. It’s cracks of thunder, beams of lightning. It’s flocks of birds and faraway galaxies. It’s the past, present, and future all rolled up into one vast layer. It’s a reminder to look up.
Let its expansiveness amaze you. Let small acts of humanity humble you. Let this imperfect season hold you in a warm embrace—because soon enough, we’ll ask: Where did summer go? Then we’ll wait.
︎Summer is a story
Here are words of wisdom from recent podcast guests to take with you into a new season:
“I like to think about the past in terms of self-reflection—seeing how far you’ve journeyed. That’s important to do sometimes. But I think, in some ways, I’m not that sentimental. I really like going forward.”
- Laura Cramer, Co-Founder of Apiece Apart
“What else do we want to bring forth? It’s been so powerful, and we’re so capable. I mean that on an individual level—we’re so capable of realizing dreams. So, what next?”
- Starr Hout, Co-Founder of Apiece Apart
“The lived experience of your life, unseen by anyone else—because no one else knows what we think, no one knows our internal world—that is the only thing we have that really matters because it’s the only thing we ever actually experience.” - Coco Mellors, Author of Cleopatra and Frankenstein.
“Good inspiration comes from all over the place, and you do have to leave your house for it occasionally.”
- Ashley Merrill, Founder of Lunya
“I am stuck in the past in so many ways, and I guess writing is the way that I stay in the present.”
- Lisa Taddeo, Author of Ghost Lover, Animal, and Three Women
“I think when you’re looking at art, it takes so much to really take it in. It’s like the question of: how do you really take in beauty? If you’re in the most beautiful field in the world, how do you really take that in? How do you really experience it? Sometimes it’s so inspiring that you don’t really know what to do. And I think art can be that way as well. And so the only way that I’ve come up with is just to really exist in it and slow down and breathe with it.”
- Hannah Traore, Founder and Director of Hannah Traore Gallery
Summer is action
Last but certainly not least, please find a few resources:
Planned Parenthood ︎ACLU ︎ Donate to Abortion Funds
Beatriz Blank of Bien Mal
Beatriz Blank likes to take her time. As co-founder of the rising lifestyle brand Bien Mal, Blank credits intention as a core tenet in her business—and life. "Slow mornings are really important," she says. "I'd rather wake up early in the morning to have extra time for a good cup of coffee, a much-needed stretch, and to set intentions for the day."
Born and raised in Venezuela, Blank relocated to New York in 2015 to start anew and eventually made her way to Los Angeles, where she's currently based with her life partner and Bien Mal's co-founder, Iván. "We both wanted a slower-paced life closer to nature, and Los Angeles gives us that," she adds.
Los Angeles has also given Blank the perfect backdrop to capture Bien Mal's values. Aside from swoon-worthy interior shots and visual homages to each throw blanket, quintessential west coast vignettes are often front and center in the brand's storytelling. But locale aside, Blank's thoughtful approach to design is a powerful reminder to slow down—no matter where you are in the world. "An important part of the brand's narrative is to bring comfort and joy into people's homes," she notes. "You can't accomplish that if you're rushing the process."
Below, Blank reflects on the places in nature that she returns to and shares a slow, soulful playlist to take with you into the season.
- Rachel Schwartzmann
Beatriz’s Slow Down Spot
Since moving to LA, hiking has been my escape and meditative activity. Griffith Park is my favorite place to go for a hike. Starting the day going up a mountain feels invigorating and relaxing at the same time. It's the perfect mix of accomplishing a big goal (literally getting to the top of a mountain) while appreciating nature and taking in stunning views of Los Angeles. On some lucky days, you get to spot deer in the wild, and when the sky is clear, you can see the Pacific Ocean from the top of the mountain. It's incredible how much you can disconnect and feel surrounded by nature while only 15 minutes away from home in a busy city like Los Angeles.
During the summer months heading to Malibu for a beach day or a hike is also the perfect way to slow down. The drive across the Pacific Coast Highway listening to music feels like a disconnect itself. Malibu is also the perfect place to bring a blanket and spend hours in the sand at any time of the year.
Beatriz's Slow (Seasons) Playlist
A good playlist is vital to enhance any experience, whether it's a summer picnic with friends, a beach day, a hike, or a drive with your windows down. Lately, I've been into a mix of Latin soul, Brazilian jazz, Boleros, and indie music. Essentially, anything that sounds romantic and relaxing.
"Gypsy Woman" by Joe Bataan
This Latin Soul song mentally transports me to New York in the '60s. It's hard for me not to dance to these tunes.
"Forever" by The Little Dippers
I initially found this song on TikTok, and it's now one of my favorite songs ever. The melody automatically slows me down and makes me want to appreciate the little things even more.
"Perdido de Amor [Lost in Love]" by Luis Bonfá
This song makes me feel like I'm traveling and exploring the world.
There's something about music in a foreign language that makes the melody feel more beautiful and intense.
"Emotions" by Brenda Lee
Brenda's voice is so soothing and powerful at the same time. This song truly makes me emotional in an introspective and positive way.
"Nosotros" by Rachael & Vilray
Boleros bring a feeling of nostalgia and make me feel close to home. It was my grandfather's favorite genre and has a special place in my heart. My husband, Iván, also adores boleros, and we can spend hours playing bolero records while telling stories.
"Sweetest Thing On This Side Of Heaven" by Papa Bear & His Cubs
This family band, founded by Eddie Disnute and his six kids, sounds like the sweetest thing you'll ever hear. A family coming together to make music is as soulful as these tunes.
A Letter to Stillness
PRESENTED BY OSTRICHPILLOW︎︎︎
I debated addressing you as “dear,” though I didn’t always think you were such a thing. For years, I clumsily sought you out. Trying to catch you was like trying to hold smoke. You breezed between my fingers; left your scent on my clothes. It was impossible to keep you for too long. But I was young and impatient. I didn’t understand what role you would come to play in my life.
As I write this, the light in my apartment has taken on a muted quality. The walls appear pebble gray. My candle’s orange flame slowly flickers, throwing me a wink every so often. The once harsh shadows now seem to be softening. It’s quieter than usual, too. Another intense heatwave has swept through the city, beckoning everyone home with only the sound of their droning air conditioning units and thoughts playing on repeat. Heat has a way of flattening everything: light, sound, time, and feelings melt into one.
It’s more than the weather, though. I’ve found myself retreating over the last few months, living insularly, not wanting to be alone, but spending the days just so. Some would say you’re the word for this sensation—stillness. And maybe to the untrained eye, it would appear that you’ve been with me this season. My penchant for slowness and solitude wrapped in your sweet embrace. But I don’t know. There’s a part of me that’s restless, incomplete. You’ve stopped by the house but never stayed for too long. You’ve taken on the shape of platitudes, reduced down to Instagram quotes and other fleeting assurances. You are here and then nowhere, making it hard to define your presence and what it means in my life now.
As I sit in this unfamiliar space, the novelty of “re-entry” has worn off, and the world continues churning. It’s onerous sometimes, and I’m exhausted, on edge. There is an insistence that we must keep “moving forward,” and with every reminder to push ahead, I find myself drifting toward the past.
It’s funny to think about a time when speed dictated the conditions of my life. How much I relied on output as the basis for whether or not I was moving in the “right direction.” But upon further reflection, I’ve realized it can be nourishing (even productive) to revisit those former moments. In doing so, I’ve been able to see more clearly that I was looking for you in all the wrong places—for you are everywhere, waiting for our return.
I’ve learned that I must build a practice of intention alongside you. I must choose you over and over again, even in periods of urgency or when darkness shrouds the path forward. And no matter what direction I find myself moving, I must remember I can turn to you for not only comfort but resolve.
Stillness, even when I can’t see you, you remind me that I’m more capable than I know. And I guess I’m writing to say that I couldn’t have made it this far without you.
- Rachel Schwartzmann