winter's chill and the empty limbs,
notice now this that fills
with new leaves and roses opening
and the nightbird's song,
Let your love dissolve also
into this season's moment,
or when it's over you will buy
lamp after lamp to find it. --Rumi
Written hundreds of years ago, Rumi manages to capture a life lesson, really a strategy, that I think is fundamentally important: living happily and with awareness throughout the seasons. People often ask me what my favorite season is and I answer, with honesty, all of them! Living in the Great Lakes region, I experience four very distinct seasons. Fall comes with Indian summer temperatures, spectacular leaf color, and crisp blue skies. Winters can be bitter cold and snowy (as was this past one) though many more in recent years have been relatively mild. Springs are wet and filled with blossom and scent. And summers can reach equatorial temperatures and humidity. Life is always interesting, weather-wise, if you choose to view it that way. I do.
With summer solstice and the "official" start of a new season upon us, it is a good exercise to ponder how we react to seasonal change. As Rumi suggests, do you "let your love dissolve" into the moment? Or, do you grumble and resist? Do you not even notice the seasons changing? Are you guilty of leaving your holiday lights up until mid-June and never getting around to changing your wardrobe? No judgment here--such behaviors are perhaps to be expected considering that we've eradicated seasonal change from most of our lives with climate control (heating and air conditioning), artificial light, and the availability of all foods at all times. However, is this best for us as a species? I'm not suggesting we go back to whale oil lamps, living in caves, or wearing fur. However, I am suggesting that we can enjoy the seasons, and life, more when we notice change and adjust accordingly.
So my suggestion for this solstice is to do a little self-exploration. Ask yourself these questions (don't be afraid to commit them to paper):
1. What is your favorite season?
2. Why? (Try drawing a doodle of what you like about that time of year).
3. What do you do to reflect the change from spring to summer?
4. What will you miss about spring?
5. What do you look forward to with summer?
6. How can you adopt a "summer attitude" of ease and relaxation, even if you're working and life seems hectic as always?
For the last question, I'm going to make some suggestions!
- Walk in the evenings after dinner and look at the night sky, listen to the frogs and crickets and cicadas chirping and calling
- Fix up a place for just sitting (porch, adirondack chair, hammock). You can always make a space for this.
- Pick up some fun reading. For you that may mean a romance, a non-fiction book that just sounds like something you'd like to learn about (like Susan Orleans "Orchid Fever" or Adam Gollerns "The Fruit Hunters" both of which have inspired films). Or it might mean a classic--today my daughter picked up Jane Austen's "Emma" which she is reading to her grandmother.
- Get a jar for making flavored waters. Particularly good combos: strawberries and kiwi, orange and mint, and cucumber. Much better than soda or lemonade or alcohol.
- Get a fun shade of nail polish, the more outlandish the better!
- Get a big straw hat--your face will thank you.
And, of course, think about signing up for my Living Seasonally course. This is a brand new course for which I did a mini-pilot last fall and it went over so well that I spent the rest of the fall and winter developing it. The course leads us through the months, seasons and holidays combining art, literature, music, healing traditions and self-exploration. Check out a sample summary sheet, earlier blogs, and sample exercises on the resource page to see the types of things we will be doing. There is a month by month explanation of the curriculum on the "Courses" page as well that goes into greater detail. Because this is new, I'm offering a reduced introductory price at both an early bird option and an installment plan option. The early bird is the most economical and will be honored until August 15th. You get lots of material and instruction for this course--it is self-improvement with substance. By allowing yourself to "dissolve with love" into the moment of the season, you won't spend your life buying lamp after lamp (self-improvement after self-improvement book, course, dvd's, etc.). Please think about joining us--we'd love to move through the seasons with you.