July marks the peak of the dog days of summer, but this month is anything but devitalizing. The air is all but alive with bursts of colorful fireworks and salty ocean air. July epitomizes the free spirit because it’s prime vacation time – the month to freely discover new destinations and unwind on your own schedule. However, exploring free-spiritedness goes beyond finding beautiful ways to spend your leisure time. It invites a broader question: What is freedom? Freedom is officially defined as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” We are in an age when the freedoms of marginalized groups, and even the Constitution itself, are being questioned and challenged. Freedom and free-spiritedness are important to ponder now more than ever because they are so relevant to conversations about our fundamental ability to be our most authentic selves.
While reflecting on the overarching importance of freedom in your life and the lives of others, you can enjoy and express free-spiritedness in simple ways, too. You could try an activity that interests you which others have brushed off; find a new path to drive, bike, or hike on; or attend an event to support a cause you believe in, that uplifts the freedoms of others as well. With independence and courage inevitably comes free-spiritedness. Though breaking out of your comfort zone may be daunting, you never know what a new experience or point of view could bring to your life. You might gain confidence, passion, and a spirit of adventure that will carry with you long after July ends.
An easy way to break out of your comfort zone is to experiment with new flavors in the kitchen! Tastemade’s Sweet and Spicy Gochujang Grilled Chicken Wings are an adventurous take on a classic summer staple. By trading in regular BBQ sauce for a marinade that mixes many different flavors, the dish strikes a delicious balance between enjoying a food you know and giving it a fresh spin. Similarly, Barefoot Contessa’s toasted coconut s’mores add a tropical flavor to a fireside favorite. The recipe involves cooking your own coconut marshmallows from scratch, making it perfect for those equally adventurous as a chef and a camper. Tastemade’s transparent, gelatinous lemon tart is another unconventional option to satisfy your sweet tooth. It offers a clear deviation from the norm while still providing a tried-and-true citrus flavor. July is both National Blueberry Month and National Ice Cream Month, so try topping the tart with blueberries or your favorite ice cream to tailor it to your unique taste!
The month kicks off with Independence Day on July 4, so break out your red, white, and blue apparel and find a clear spot to watch a fireworks spectacular. While you’re bonding with family over drinks and drumsticks and enjoying the smells of smoky barbecue and fresh apple pie, take time to reflect on the relevance of the holiday’s traditions now, and what values they symbolize to you. When you discover what freedom is to you, free-spiritedness follows. This mood encompasses a celebration of your own individuality and ability to live without constraint by convention. This month, be an advocate for what you believe in, follow your instincts and passions, and look at every day as the start of a new adventure.
Photo courtesy of Linus Nylund at Unsplash