We Can All Enjoy $ummer
Temperatures aren’t the only thing rising this summer. The price of gas, food, housing, and just about everything else you can imagine are rising too. Therefore, I’m urging that we all try our best to play it cool with our friends and community this summer. Some may need the relief.
One way to play it cool and perhaps provide a small bit of relief with our partners, friends, and family this summer is to be more cost conscious with the activities and plans we create to enjoy together. Instead of inviting everyone to a big birthday dinner at an expensive restaurant, maybe consider a place that might be less expensive, or providing the option to guests to only join you for drinks at the bar before the transition to the dining table and the full meal. If you have space at your home large enough or if the weather is nice and you’re not too far from a park with tables, you can even consider a potluck.
Do a little research to see if some of the shows, restaurants, and attractions you want to invite people to offer discounts or special rates for certain nights.
Also, summer is a natural time to revisit a number of free activities we can appreciate with others while spending meaningful quality time, like bike riding, walks in the park, lounging at the beach, game nights, and book clubs with books that are available to us from the local library hardcopy, digital, or audio. The bottom line is about the bottom line: be creative coming up with free or lower cost ways to connect with others this summer.
Being mindful of our words this summer is another way to keep it cool. When people we know and love are going through financial difficulties, we may not always know it and the things we say to and around them have the potential to make them feel even more worried, stressed, or shamed. A friend recently shared how frustrated he was while preparing for a move that was already straining him, when other friends told him repeatedly that he should ‘just’ hire packers and movers, and a host of other things that would cost him money that he didn’t have. He’s been working a full-time and a part-time job. There was simply no money in his budget to do more and the words and tone of his friends made him feel less.
Even if it wasn’t their intention, their words had a negative impact on him, and it wasn’t until later, when he was ready, that he was able to have a conversation about how it made him feel. If you get the urge to ask someone, why don’t they ‘just’ upgrade, or buy something else, don’t. And always remember, a part of staying classy means not being classist.
One of the coolest things you can do this summer, if you are able, is to donate your time or resources to those who might need them. The financial advisor and popular TV personality Suze Orman once offered that, “True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share.” Historically, many nonprofit organizations see a slump in their volunteer participation during summer months. Volunteering at a local food pantry or organization that provides meals and other social needs would be invaluable to the community right now.
Volunteer service has a positive effect on you, too. It can be fun, meaningful, and a gratitude practice. A way of returning to the universe some of the good that has come to you. If you don’t have time or the ability to volunteer but do have financial means to donate money or items to nonprofits, social services, and faith-based groups doing the good work in the community, know that your generosity could go a long way for someone who will directly benefit from it in these times.
Increased temperatures. Increased inflation. Increased opportunities to be self-aware and supportive.▼
Clarence J. Fluker is a public affairs and social impact strategist. Since 2008, he’s also been a contributing writer for Swerv, a lifestyle periodical celebrating African American LGBTQ+ culture and community. Follow him on Twitter: @CJFluker or Instagram: @Mr_CJFluker