100 is the New 95
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It’s still August. I had a moment yesterday, when I temporarily forgot what month it was. I had finished my first group mountain bike ride in probably two months (yes, I was dying even though we rolled at 8 a.m.) and was turning back into my neighborhood, appraising the state of the landscaping (sad trees and dead grass). I had friends coming over to swim and was thinking “We won’t have that many days left to do this,” and then I remembered, “It’s the summer of hell, and it’s not yet September.”
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Since I have a pool, you’re probably thinking I have no reason to complain. And it has been sanity saving, but it really has been the longest summer ever. We’ve had unprecedented heat here in Texas, with multiple days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and many over 105. Last week, we had one day when we dipped down from 106 to 100, and one of the guys in my mountain biking group chat reminded everyone to get out and enjoy the cool front. He wasn’t joking.
Two days later, it hit 108.
This week, we’re supposed to have one day below 100, and everyone I talk to is buzzing with excitement. Break out the sweaters, everyone!
It’s confusing because my youngest returned to classes last week. She keeps talking about all the little things she’s gonna do when it’s fall—like wear sweatshirts and eat oatmeal for breakfast (for now, she’s sticking to yogurt). She keeps asking if I’m excited, and while I want to be—fall is my favorite season—it just feels like this heat will never end.
Typically, we don’t get our first truly cool weather until the week of Halloween. But it used to be that about this time of year, we would drop into the upper 90s and officially hit the last of the 100s, and everyone would rejoice because they survived another terrible Texas summer. Days before that, though, I could often sense a shift—a change in the air. Perhaps the sun just hit differently, even when it was still beating down. Maybe it was just optimism. No such luck this year. This summer has been so relentless, and there hasn’t been a hint of anything.
I envy all of you longing for summer not to end, because you most definitely don’t live in Texas.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about leaving Maui the same day the wildfires broke out across the island, including Lahaina. But as we took off for the mainland, I started plugging back into Facebook and news and life back home, and I learned my local mountain bike trail—the one I ride every week—was also on fire. Luckily, it was contained quickly and no lives were lost, but it has added to my sense of doom.
A crew of about 50 of us mountain bikers, family and friends came out last week with chainsaws, rakes and mcleods to clear downed and dangling limbs across the trail and reroute lines where necessary. A macleod, by the way, is a tool that looks like a rake on one side but has a sharp hoe on the other. It’s used primarily for wildfire suppression ironically but also for mountain bike trail building, which is why so many of us bikers have them.
The mountain biking community is passionate about preserving their sport (and getting back out to ride), so we typically put in a lot of sweat equity to rebuild trails after major weather events. With so many folks working together, we were able to get almost all of the work done, but it was surreal to see forest reduced to ash. It was surreal to see all the way through land when you typically only see what’s ahead. I plan to ride the trail this week, although my friends say the ash is still getting kicked up and isn’t fun to breathe.
I guess where I’m going with this is it feels like the planet is slowly imploding, and what can we do? I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I think people get to a point where they’re a little numbed after so much destruction (myself included), but there are still actions we can take (the big one is reducing reliance on fossil fuels). I’m holding out hope we can still reverse this.
It’s been estimated that some 80 percent of the world live in an area impacted by light pollution.visited Prineville Reservoir State Park, the first state park in Oregon to get a coveted International Dark Sky Park designation, to report from the scene.
But tourism officials, amateur astronomers, and community leaders there have their sights set on something bigger—a plan to link three entire counties to create the world’s largest Dark Sky Park. It will likely take years—perhaps even more than a decade—to get the approvals, but the payoff would be spectacular.
“…a certain quality of life is at stake when one is unable to see a sky brimming with stars. From the Psalms to the Magi to Shakespearean sonnets, human experience has been intertwined with the firmament for thousands of years. The DarkSky website points out that Vincent van Gogh’s famous The Starry Night was painted in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in 1889; but today, the Milky Way can no longer be seen from that location (perhaps due to light pollution from nearby Avignon).” —Julia Dun
My Substack friend and non-diet nutritionistof wrote a beautiful post this week about taking a leap of faith into the unknown as she prepares to launch a podcast. As the days have gotten closer, she noticed she was falling into old patterns—of hiding and staying small. She also noticed perfectionism creeping in and was brave enough to ask herself why it was happening.
“It is also important to remember that perfectionism is a protective mechanism. It is there to try and keep us safe. It promises us that if you can do it perfectly, no one can criticise you. This means we don’t run the risk of being ostracised from our tribe / community. Back in the day, being kicked out of your community would have had dire consequences, even death, as survival depended on being part of the group.” —Linn Thorstensson
I believe we write about things to get through them, and I have no doubt Linn will get through this. Her podcast debuts Aug. 25, and she’s got an entire first season ready, so please check her out and subscribe! Yours truly will be a guest on season two (we recorded our conversation last week).
You’ve got this, Linn!
As I mentioned earlier, my youngest went back to school last week, and my middle child starts her college classes today, so we’re still fully in the midst of the transition, although I feel like maybe the hardest part—the preparation and the unknown—is behind us. For parents of kids with eating disorders, there is even more preparation and worry, and the transition can be incredibly overwhelming. The National Eating Disorder Association devoted the entire month of August to back to school on its blog, and I wrote a guest post about some of the things I have done to help ease this transition for my kids.
“When it comes to transitioning back to school, it’s my belief that it’s better to be proactive and well-prepared than be caught off guard by a crisis. Communication is essential, but sometimes kids can’t or won’t say what they need. Depending on where your child is in recovery, you may need to take the lead in planning for the fall transition. While you can’t prevent every issue that may arise, we can set our children up for success in their recovery.” —me
Thankfully, we’re in a much better place than we were last year, but the vigilance is still there and probably will be as long as I’m a parent.
I fell for a catchy, if slightly deceptive headline in the latest issue of the New York Times Magazine that somewhat takes us full circle. It’s from a 30-something, plus-size woman who happens to also live in Austin and loves a good diving board (maybe any diving board, as she says they are in short supply).
She writes about the pool being crucial for surviving the Texas heat (yup) and the joy of swimming—and diving—in Austin’s beloved spring-fed public pool Barton Springs. Her unshakeable confidence comes from knowing that no matter how she feels about her body, there is one thing it knows how to do well.
If it’s a busy day at the pool, my dive might get a reaction, too. Sometimes the audience will clap or even gasp. When I come up for air, I might hear a stranger say, “Did you see that?!” as if they’re surprised to see a plus-size woman in her mid-30s perform this gracefully. But their reaction is just a bonus, because the dive is not for them — it’s for me. It’s proof. Proof that if nothing else, I’ve still got this. You see, I haven’t always had the kindest relationship with my body. I’ve never been small, which means that for most of my life, small is all I wanted to be. Finding clothes that I feel good in, especially in the sweltering heat of a Texas summer, is a challenge every year. But I’ve always felt safe in a bathing suit. Because even when I hate my body, the pool is neutral ground. No matter what kind of day I’m having, what my body has or hasn’t accomplished, I can still dive. —Haley Howie
This is a topic I’m planning to explore more soon, because like Haley I’ve found the best way to overcome bad feelings about my body is by doing something physical. We don’t have to love our bodies, but we can learn to appreciate them.
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