A Flower Child at Heart | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

A Flower Child at Heart


Maya Miller

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a flower child at heart. I recycle. I meditate. I run (though not as often as I would like), and every now and then, I like to dig my fingers and toes into the rich Mississippi soil of my great-grandmother's garden, pluck fresh tomatoes and clip hydrangeas to put by my bedside or weave into my hair.

If I could, I would probably live in an eternal summer filled with sun and water, plant sunflowers by day, and spend my nights writing and reading beside an open window while the crickets chirp the night away.

There's something refreshing about the changing seasons, and I experience it more when the trees bloom and storefronts open their doors to greet those rising from their hibernation under long sleeves and knee high boots. By shedding my winter clothes and the cold that clings to me when the sun sets before I'm ready for it to, I feel reborn. I stuff my chunky sweaters and fleece-lined leggings into plastic bins and pull out the denim shorts and sandals, and when I feel that first ray of sun on my back, I am recharged.

This summer will be my first out of my mother's house, and while I miss the luxury that comes from living in suburbia, I'm happy to know that I will be able to fully experience all that the city has to offer this year. I'm free to be an adult, to attend dinner parties and go to brunch and have one too many mimosas, but also hold onto my inner child and cannonball into pools and gorge myself on gelato from La Brioche.

There are so many things happening around Jackson this summer that I refuse to believe that I will ever be bored. Summer is when the city awakens, so it's best if we use these months, no matter how hot they are, to fall in love with home again.

Summer is also a time to grow and to travel, and then share all that you've learned when you make your way back home, recharged and rested.

In June, I get to travel to New York City as a John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice fellow in partnership with the Tow Foundation to write about mental health and juvenile justice in Mississippi. I will meet reporters and researchers from all over the country to discuss a better way to write about mental health and our troubled kids. I feel like my summer is going to be filled with growth and intense revelations, which is what a new season is all about, right?

This year, I urge you all to find yourself this summer, whether it's while sitting on the dock of the reservoir or on the outdoor patio with friends at one of Jackson's many local restaurants. Embrace your inner summer, and let the warmth and happiness that reside within you flourish and adorn everyone that you love and care about, even strangers you meet.

Take a walk through Belhaven, Fondren, midtown or downtown and make a new friend. Make a day trip out of going to a new shop and restaurant that you've never been to. My mother introduced me to Fondren when I was 16 simply because she was craving a burger from Rooster's, and now I can name almost every business that lines the historic district's streets.

Spend some time reconnecting with your passions, such as running, writing, volunteering and getting your hands dirty. If you don't have a passion, find one and see what sticks.

In all of this, I urge you all to just have fun. I may only be 22 years old, but I've already learned that adulthood is stressful, and the key to dealing with it is to manage your stress and make time for the fun things. Make a habit out of doing at least one relaxing thing a day, or if your schedule can't be changed that much, at least once a week.

Do yoga. Run in a local park. Journal outside underneath a tree. Get a head start on the summer by grabbing lunch at Food Truck Fridays, going on now until June at Smith Park.

Instead of heading home on the first Thursday of the June and August, hit up Fondren and mingle with the hundreds who are all there to have a good time. The May event had record attendance numbers, so who knows what this summer holds for the event. Pet all the dogs to your heart's content or even adopt a dog. Adopt all of the dogs.

Or, if you can't right now, join Community Animal Rescue & Adoption's Adopt-a-Leash program, where you pay for a dog's leash monthly and walk it and spend as much time with the furry friend that you want.

Design a costume for the second annual Mississippi Comic Con, or hang out at the Mississippi Museum of Art on the third Thursday of every month. There, you can see artwork from your favorite artists, listen to music from local artists, and enjoy dishes from Nick Wallace's monthly 'sipp Sourced pop-up menu and the food trucks that often line the block. (This Friday is the third annual Dinner and a Movie: A Food Truck Festival).

Take a second to breathe in some fresh air, let the sun beam down upon you and bury your toes within freshly mown grass, and just be. Enjoy the summer while it's here. It'll be gone before you know it, so celebrate the warm weather as much as you can.

In this issue, you'll find, along with blurbs on local events and a few fun little summer items, listings for many events this summer. There's something in here for everyone, whether you like food and drinks, or are LGBT, or want to support the community, or you just want to find something to do. This issue celebrates summer and the things we love and want to do in Jackson. So come on in. Enjoy the summer time with us. And don't forget your sunscreen.

Deputy News Editor and flower child-in-training Maya Miller writes about crime, music, art and her ever-growing obsession with Beyonce. Email her news tips (or your plans for the summer) at [email protected]. To see what's happening in Jackson, visit jfp.ms/events.

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