Summer Time

Summer Time

Summer Time. Is there any season sweeter, shorter, easier, more relaxed than summer?

I feel like I’m just catching up with myself to find I am in the height of the summer season. Officially, we are only a few weeks into the season of summer but it always feels so short. July is the height of it all, August we can start to see the days shorten as back-to-school ads inundate us every moment, and then September it is back to routines, school, work schedules — a chill comes into the air and we are already hunkering down for the fall and winter to come.

But here we are at the epitome of summer. Do you feel these are easy days? It seems that routines are let go of, people are out and about in nature, vacations are being taken, and it’s a good day to take a dip in a pond or pool. Who wants to turn on the oven? Now the grills are fired up and salads and no cook options are on the menu. It all feels different.

What are your plans? For me, I am just seeking to savor the moments. You may be like me with a stack of books to read — get one of those out, pour yourself a favorite drink, and enjoy reading an actual book. There are a lot of fun, light movies and shows to watch — give in and see them. Don’t forget to check out free movies, concerts, and plays in your community — a great way to have an evening out with the beautiful weather without breaking the bank.

Go on a vacation — even a day trip if that is all that is possible. Vacations don’t have to be fancy — often a walk in the woods or a park can be a vacation all on its own. I think the theme of a vacation is to get away from the normal settings you live in and be curious about a place that is new or revisit to find something new. Get away — become refreshed.

Leave your screens behind. It’s all most people do anymore, ie to look down at their phones and off they go for hours at a time. Be mindful of your time on the phone and be intentional about putting it away when on vacation or limit it during these short days so you can be as fully present in the summer days as possible. Just an idea — I know an often dreaded one.

The last thing I want for myself is to wake up the day after Labor Day and say to myself, “Where did it go?” Of course, I most likely will be asking myself this no matter what, but I guess it is the response that counts. It went and I made the MOST of it.

Now is the time to be in summer and let summer be in you. Have fun!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year
Happy 2022!

Happy New Year.

We are only a few wee hours into 2022 — does it feel like a new page for you? Of course there is always the annual stress that occurs post-Christmas to think about the past year and find some things to renew and resolve for the new one. Funny, does one evening and the flip of a day really carry that much on its shoulders? It strikes me that the calendar day/year is set up like this and then we follow suit. How to unwind?

I was reading an article the other day about how the Gen Z and Millenial generations are no longer waiting for the magic of January 1 to begin anew, but beginning wherever and whatever day they are on. As I read the article, this was not a new concept in the least, but perhaps it is so much more a “here and now” society the idea of waiting on anything — even a new year to begin — seems like a waste.

I am not sure if you make resolutions. I am now hearing people call them intentions these days. Resolutions, Intentions — it all seems to me to be a moment of actual reflection and a place to build a bridge between the old and the new. Why do we want to slam the door so hard on the old and seek to wash our hands of our “bad” habits or those things that were less than what we wanted for ourselves. We all know that by the end of January everything that is new is yet old again.

I recommend recognizing this and building a bridge. It’s often a wonderful thing to take stock of all the good that the old year held for us — what are we proud of, what was a highlight, what motivated us to do better, what did we learn, how did we express our curiosity? From there, how would it look to have more of that and what else? Can any of these things build bridges to other habits and moments. So, it is no longer a frame of throwing it all out and beginning anew with perfection in mind, but building on what has been to what we want to continue, to discard, to build upon.

Life is not a linear line. It builds on itself and even as we awaken into this new year, we are made up of all the events, happenings, and how we brought our self to it all over all of the old years. Bringing these parts of ourselves into the new — honoring, being with, and companioning all the parts feels so important.

I wish for you a bridge between the old and the new. May it light your days for all the new ones to come based on all of the days and years that have come before.

Here’s to it!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to You!

This week marks the epitome of the season. You may find yourself walking through your neighborhood and seeing ghosts, witches, carved pumpkins and more as you wander. Tis the season for Halloween spooks and haunts to come out and play.

Do you get into Halloween? For me, it is a time to don my creativity hat and deck out my home from head to toe with seasonal decorations. And I do mean head to toe. For the past 16 years, I have been collecting seasonal decorations for Halloween and, after all of these years, it is a main event to decorate the Treehouse. Bins full of all sorts of decorations are revealed year after year.

At this point some of these items feel like “old friends.” One of my earliest pieces is a small crow with a purple ribbon around his neck. Each year that I meet him again feels like meeting an old part of myself that used to live in an old apartment with just a little space for something special like Mr. Crow. So, in opening the bins and seeing and touching my decorations is almost like touching parts of myself that are from long ago, but also in my present. I love this.

Creativity, one’s history, and then the spirit of fun all come into play during this spooky Halloween season. Each year, I add some new pieces as well. Inevitably, I donate some pieces that no longer seem to suit and replace them with others that appeal to my eye. At the end of this decorating bonanza, I am literally living in a transformed space which underlies the change of seasons and my own changes within as I ready for the dark days of late Autumn and winter. Even though it is difficult to lose the natural daylight, it is also fun to light up Halloween flames that provide a different light to the home and my days.

I am not sure how you may be celebrating Halloween, but if you celebrate I hope you have a pumpkin to carve or an old friend like my Mr. Crow to sit in a special place in your home or have time to enjoy a walk to see how others may be keeping the spirit of the season. Soon the calendar turns to November — the season of Thanksgiving and gratitude. For now, let’s celebrate the spookiness!

First Day of Fall: A Balance Point

First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of Fall! Welcome, Autumn!

I am thinking about all the wonderful things I am ready to do as this new season arises. Cozy comfort foods to cook, drives to see the leaves, fall hikes, crisp weather calling me to pull out my sweaters and boots, a crisp chill in the air to accompany my running through the leaves, and more.

It’s Autumn. Yet, today is also the Autumnal Equinox. That moment — no matter where you are on the planet — where we are granted equal amounts of light and darkness. Daytime and nighttime are equal. It sounds like such a perfect balance and only Mother Nature can give us one stretch of perfect equanimity.

I feel like today is a perfect moment for a reflection on how well we balance our own lives. Often we live at extremes — not eating any sweets and then eating the whole cupboard, not doing any project and then taking on more than we could ever do, and on and on. Doing all or none of something always feels way easier than actually keeping a balance.

Making step-by-step progress on one project important to you, enjoying one cookie without regrets, spending one’s time across all that matters in equal amounts — now that sounds like balance. It also sounds incredibly difficult. I, too, favor the extremes — something so easy in the all in or all out approach.

However, the Autumnal Equinox gives us a natural example of how beautiful and fine it is to balance one’s self. It may not be easy, but what is in reality? Take time and savor this change of season and be present to how you can balance yourself and life this season.

A Plan for Autumn

A Plan for Autumn

Are you an endless summer person or one who is ready for Autumn? Recently, I was reading an article in the NYT about exactly this point in the year. It’s an important moment in the year.

During the regular years of the past, children are actually heading back to school, parents are returning to the hum of their lives with their children preoccupied for the better part of weekdays, we are turning over the closets to our sweaters and boots, apple cider and comfort foods are back in vogue, and all of us can feel the holidays coming — Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — that is if you live in America and celebrate these holidays.

This year, this moment feels fraught. COVID is still alive and kicking around our communities. Although there is a degree of freedom that most of us did not have in the spring, it’s still advised to maintain distance, stay quarantined in your pod, and restrict what you are doing in the world. If you aren’t restricting it, somewhere guidelines are. So, now, it feels even more poignant to leave the carefree good weather days of summer where outdoor patio dining makes you feel somewhat safe to go out to eat, social distance picnics and camping kept us in real contact with others (goodbye Zoom for awhile!), and it just felt good to exercise outdoors!

So, what is your plan for Autumn? How are you going to approach this moment in the calendar year? Perhaps you are hanging on to dear life to these last days of summer? Perhaps you are already enjoying the pumpkin drinks at the coffee shop? Perhaps you are betwixt and between? It’s a moment to mark and to make a plan.

It’s going to be a different Autumn — many of the traditional activities are nil or on-line, flu season is almost here and so taking care is going to be extra important, we are moving into news media central with an election on in America this November – how will you take care, rejuvenate, stay connected, but also have space and time for you.

It’s time to make your plan for Autumn. May there be many magical moments even as we lose light and the air chills.

Early Signs of Autumn

Early Signs of Autumn

Happy End of August! I can hardly believe it is the last day of the month.

Yet, when I look around and tune into the current days, I can definitely tell there are early signs of Autumn all around me — and you too if you are in the northern hemisphere.

First off, as I have taken walks in the woods around the Pacific Northwest, I see the smallest tinges of color among the green leaves. And even the green leaves have lost their brilliance. Oh there is still plenty of green, but it has taken on a dull, tired hue. The leaves still seem to want to cling to summer, but are on the brink of adding some color to their character. I see it here and there. It surprises me as I’m not quite ready — and yet, I love Autumn.

Then I notice that the days are shortening — it’s dark when I wake up in the morning and the sun is down and dark by 8 pm. Ah. Shorter days where we pull our blinds early and hunker indoors a little earlier day by day. It’s still lovely weather during the day, but as the sun goes down it gets cooler and I find myself pulling on long sleeved T’s to match the cooler evenings.

I ended up tossing out my petunia plant this past week as well. She was still flowering, but she was beginning to droop and look tired. Wait, what? I love my flowers, but when I see these tell tale signs, I know it’s time to buy a mum and call it a day on my summer flowers. I love watering my flowers morning and night and so this ritual comes to an end as I look toward Autumn.

What signs are you seeing that Autumn is on her way? We still have three weeks or so until Autumn officially arrives, but well before that date, signs of the new season are all around. During this pandemic year, the idea of hunkering down indoors once again may hold less appeal than other years. Yet, no matter, nature changes the seasonal calendar.

Showing up, taking it in, and being present to these early signs of Autumn are an important ways to prepare for the impending change of season.

A Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List

The Fourth of July is over. How can it be? My Grandmother always said once the 4th is over, summer is over. I always disagreed, but inevitably I would blink and it would be fall and we would be heading back to school. Summer feels fleeting.

That’s why it may take some intention to make the most of the season, especially during this pandemic year. The months have just sort of slipped away as we have been under quarantine. Now, restrictions are lifting, but many still remain in place. And even if places are opening, it doesn’t mean that you want to engage.

So, this is a unique year to create a Summer Bucket List that suits how you are feeling and how you want to enjoy summer this year. For many, travel is off the table or rather people are taking near-to-home road trips. Perhaps that is on your summer bucket list? Heading off for a little get away near your home.

Perhaps planting a garden or tending your flowers and yard is on your bucket list. The planting probably should have been done by now, but caring for your yard is an on-going task. Taking time to dig in the dirt, care for plants and flowers, and gussying up one’s yard are all grounding tasks that can take advantage of the weather and season.

Maybe this is the year to complete an outdoor renovation project, like building a deck or putting in a shed to organize yourself. All this time at home has certainly allowed us to see what we would like to improve about it, and now that we are living in our yards with the summer season, perhaps your attention heads to a juicy project to complete this season.

Maybe you are canning and preserving your favorite summer fruits and vegetables for the fall and winter? This is an old fashioned art that may delight you this season. It’s definitely from yesterday year, but again there is something satisfying with taking the summer’s bounty and preserving it for your future enjoyment on cold, dark days.

What’s on my Summer Bucket List? I have a few things:

  1. Hike obscure trails near my home with my family.
  2. Revisit classic books.
  3. Care for my flowers — how much will they bloom before summer’s end?
  4. Renovating my home – much needed. Even undertaking it feel gigantic.
  5. Spending quality time with my pets – we are welcoming a puppy later this year and so being with my current furry friends before chaos arrives feels really important.

Feels like quite a list given I’ve got about 10 weeks left of summer. Here’s to creating a Summer Bucket List and checking off a few items between now and fall.

Welcome Summer

Welcome Summer
Raspberries on the Vine

The summer solstice occurred little over a week ago — does that mean we are already losing light each day?

I suppose it does, and given how short this season always feels, it is wonderful to get outside and enjoy each moment this summer. We have been cooped up in quarantine for months across the nation. There is still every reason to be cautious, but being able to get outdoors and enjoy this beautiful season — with a mask on and social distance in place — feels particularly special this year.

Even when I walk around my own neighborhood, I see the wonderful summer flowers in bloom and many raspberries on the vine ripening as well. Oh, is there anything that says summer like berries on the vine? In the Pacific NW, it is one of the many marvels we have each summer season. And I don’t even need to go anywhere special to find them. Just walk out my door and notice.

There is much upset and unrest in our lives and communities right now. This is why it is even more important to notice summer. To take time to breathe in her beauty and be present to all that is being offered to all of us at this moment. If we don’t notice, we miss it.

Be Present and Welcome Summer.

On the Brink of the Spring Season

Cherry Blossom Blooms about to burst in the spring season
Cherry Blossoms about to Burst Forth!

We are on the brink of the spring season. Or so I keep reminding myself!

I don’t know about you, but it has felt like a very long winter to me. Even February, which usually slips away before I even had time to appreciate her. Ugh! This year is different. I feel like winter has lasted forever and I am ready to see small hints that spring is on its way.

My mind is already drifting to tiny ways that I can bring Spring into my days — even three weeks before she actually arrives. How about you? Are you ready for the change of seasons? For longer days at night? For warmer temperatures? Have you noticed the birds are chirping once again in the early morning hours. Nature is cyclical and if we just take care of our Earth, she will reward us with magic as the seasons change.

Here are a few ideas as we all wait together for Spring to burst forth in full bloom:

  • Flowers! Purchase some and bring a burst of color forth in your home
  • Notice the blooms outside. Snap a picture. Some of these flowers are just so darn courageous!
  • Head to a baseball game.
  • Walk through some cool, crisp grass with your barefoot.
  • Listen to your favorite beach tunes – getting in the mood for summer.
  • Take a walk and observe yourself noticing nature coming alive.
  • Purchase a vegetable like asparagus, which is coming into season, and cook seasonally with your fresh produce
  • How about a spring sponge cake with homemade lemon whipped cream?
  • Go bird watching! They are back, mine as well watch them up close.
  • Light a candle that smells like spring to you.

Now is the time to get ready for the spring season All of these activities can help ease the transition from one season to another and ground yourself in nature. Do alone or share with some others. Whatever you choose, know that spring is about to burst forth and so are you!