I have a secret ritual I do every summer. On a sunny day, I head over to a small dock on a lake close to my mom’s house. I don’t tell anyone where I’m going, and sometimes it’s spur-of-the-moment when I’m driving by. I’ll lay down on the dock — which is so tiny and old it looks as if it’s going to crumble — and look up at the sky. The lake is calm, the leaves rustle in the oak trees above and the birds are singing. I feel my heart beating in my chest, I notice every breath passing through my body and life comes into focus. Do you know the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn? I’ve mentioned it before, but the title is the perfect sentiment for this moment. Having lived half my life in Sweden and half in California, I struggle with where I belong. But laying here on this dock, with no one knowing where I am and only the birds for company, I feel a deep sense of belonging. And this belonging has nothing to do with where I’m physically at. It has to do with me. I know I belong wherever I am, because in this moment I feel connected to myself and to the world. Walking away from that dock, I feel calm, joyful and deeply grateful.
So for this month’s Ask Five, I decided to find out the favorite summer rituals of five amazing women: actress Kelly Rutherford, Kitchen Crashers star Alison Victoria, Sweden’s Biggest Loser fitness expert Tanja Djelevic, the founder and editor of juggernaut design blog SFGirlByBay Victoria Smith and florist and event designer Mindy Rice.
With summer in full bloom, I hope you get to enjoy your own rituals. If you have a moment, please leave a comment and let me know what you do to make your own summer special. And if you don’t have a summer ritual, I think you’ll find inspiration from this month’s Ask Five!
Kelly Rutherford: “My favorite summer ritual is to go to the beach with my kids. Last year, we went to the Hamptons and had endless fun. We stayed in Sag Harbor, cooked a lot of delicious food and had friends visit with their kids. There are so many little towns to explore and a lot of festivals for kids. One of our favorite events is the Super Saturday charity event, which benefits The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. My kids love it because there are carnivals, tons of activities and yummy treats. It’s such a happy time for all of us and a wonderful way to celebrate summer.”
Actress Kelly Rutherford, best known for her role as Lily van der Woodsen on the hit show Gossip Girl, is a single parent to Hermes, 6 and Helena, 4. She’s also an advocate of several charities including StepUp Women’s Network and Healthy Child Healthy World. Her online magazine www.KellyRutherford.com features her favorite items from the worlds of fashion and beauty.
Alison Victoria: “Summer for me is all about getting as much sunshine as possible! So if I can’t get it in Chicago — which has been the case this summer — my favorite place to go is Europe. My fiancé and I like to spend our summers traveling Europe, soaking up the sun and getting lost in the streets of Paris or Barcelona. I love experiencing different cultures, foods, drinks and architecture. And shopping at the flea markets for pieces that inspire me makes the memories last that much longer!”
Alison Victoria is the first female host of DIY Network’s hit show Kitchen Crashers. She’s also an accomplished interior designer with offices in Chicago and Las Vegas. Alison and her fiancé, State Farm agent and realtor Luke Harding, are getting married this fall. You can follow Alison on Twitter at @alisonvictoria3.
Tanja Djelevic: “When summer comes around, I always get the urge to go outside and dance under the sun or the stars to a live band. My favorite event is the salsa-in-the-park concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I’ll bring a picnic, dance under the sky, laugh with good friends and drink a glass of ice cold Prosecco. That says summer to me!”
Tanja Djelevic is a fitness expert on Sweden’s Biggest Loser television show. A renowned personal trainer and a GAIAM and Reebok DVD instructor, she has worked with the likes of Matt Damon and Pink. She teaches at Hollywood’s Crunch Fitness among others, and is known for her energetic and inspiring style. You can follow her on Twitter at @loudfitness.
Victoria Smith: “I’ve been a dedicated beach-goer since I was very small. My dad would load us into the VW bug and drive to the same beach in Santa Monica almost every single weekend. We’d build sand castles, body surf and stay until just before sunset and eat an early picnic dinner my mum always packed. Those late afternoons when the crowds have cleared out are still a summertime ritual for me. I love the time of day when the beach is quiet, and I nap and read until dusk, covered with beach blankets that keep me warm from the cooling air of the afternoon. It’s utterly peaceful and a perfect way to unwind on a weekend.”
Victoria Smith is the publisher and editor of SFGirlByBay, one of the most popular interior design blogs in the world with more than 25,000 readers a day. She lives in San Francisco, California, with her trusted dog Lucy. You can follow Victoria on Twitter at @sfgirlbybay.
Mindy Rice: “Unlike most people, my summer is devoted to gaining three pounds! Because to me, that usually means a good apple year. When my husband and I bought our property, I wouldn’t let him remove a very old — and quite pitiful — apple tree that sat in the middle of the property. We literally designed our house around that tree. The rumor was it had the best apples in town, and I think it does. We’ve had several people take a look at it, but no one knows what variety it is. Each summer, we can hardly wait for the apples to ripen before we whip out our old apple peeler and start rolling out pounds of buttery crust. I guess I love this ritual so much because my boys, age 14 and 11, get as much joy from it as I do. For us, summer and apple pie go hand in hand.”
Mindy Rice is the owner of Mindy Rice Floral and Event Design. Her lush and sophisticated creations, a favorite with clients including Curtis Stone and Mark Paul Gosselaar, have been featured in Martha Stewart magazine, Town & Country, Elegant Bride, InStyle magazine and People magazine among others. She lives near Santa Barbara, California.
Top photograph by Ulrica Wihlborg. Photograph of Kelly Rutherford by Carlos Ruiz. Photograph of Victoria Smith by Edyta Szyszlo. Photograph by Alison Victoria by Anthony Tahlier. Photograph of Mindy Rice by Elizabeth Messina. All photographs ©2013.