If you think this blog post is going to be about solar energy for creating electricity or hot water…think again. This blog post is about the basic, primal, human need for sunshine. Or, let’s be even clearer, my basic, primal human need for sunshine.
For some reason, this winter I went into the cold darkness kicking and screaming and crying like a 4-year-old fighting going to bed. And the deeper into winter we get here (snow, ice, day after day of grey, heavy skies), the harder it gets for me to pretend to be happy.
I know that sunshine creates vitamin D and makes me happier, but when it’s below freezing every day and I work inside all day, it’s hard to get more outdoor sun time than the minute it takes to run from the door to the car, let alone the recommend 15 minutes a day. And a weekly run with everything covered but my nose and eyes wasn’t enough to do it. So my 13-year-old and I decided to make an emergency trip to Florida for a long weekend of intensive vitamin D infusion.
We chose Sunny Isles because the water looked turquoise (it was), and we could take an easy flight from our local airport without dealing with the hassle of Miami or New York. OK, I’ll tell you the truth: We originally wanted to go to Turks and Caicos, but since we were only booking a week in advance, we checked Accuweather and, lo and behold…NO SUN! Why bother?! Southern Florida looked like it would have some sun, and temperatures in the mid 70s. The easy flight was an added bonus.
So here is where I get really politically incorrect: I love sunbathing. I love getting tan. Our goal was to maximize our sun exposure without injury and serious burn. And, I use sunscreen sparingly, if at all. What do I use? Coconut oil for cooking. Yes, I told my daughter, we want to bake like potatoes in the oven with oil. (Gasp!) We had a jar of certified-organic coconut oil for cooking that I bought at the supermarket, and it smelled good. Real good. And it felt divine as we rubbed it into our stark-white bodies. My theory is that if you can eat it, then it’s not toxic to put on your skin. We soaked up what sun we could find like two cars at a gas station soaking up fuel. On the last day it was cloudy, rainy, and windy and I STILL lay out by the pool. Suffice it to say I was the only one out there.
We were careful. We got a poolside cabana for the noon hours. As hard as we tried, we didn’t even get any burns. We felt pretty tan until a woman on the plane home asked us where our tans were if we went to Florida. And then we cried. We cried again when we pulled into our driveway just as a giant ice storm started. At least school was cancelled the next day.
But what I really was happy about is that I got my energy back. Aside from the vanity aspect of giving us a bit of color on our skin, I believe that being in the sun restores our spirits, our energy, and our minds. For me, I realized as I soaked up the light with my eyes closed, it’s one of the few times in my life in which I’m not really doing anything. I’m not getting anything done. I’m not sleeping, I’m not reading, or doing chores or working. I’m resting. (I admit I was also listening to my whole collection of Kenny Chesney albums.) I’m absorbing the rays of fuel that give me the energy to do what I do…which most people would agree is a LOT.
If I am ever lucky enough to retire, I think I will spend much of my time somewhere in the sun. Probably not Sunny Isles, Florida (too hard to find anything organic!). But maybe Anguilla. That’s my favorite island. In the meantime, I will have to get my sunshine fuel whenever and wherever I can.
My happiness depends on it.