According to the Farmers’ Almanac 2011 blogs, summer is a time of abundance, when farms and gardens explode with life—so much so, that canning and freezing are a few methods employed to hold all that harvest. This aligns with our collective sentiment of frivolousness and frolic in the hot season. All is full, vibrant, bursting and before us in ample loads.
In the transition from autumn to winter, things begin to sober, slow, collect, prepare, quiet and turn color. For some, this can trigger slight states of depression or mild melancholy as we tune into more primordial sensations or traumas around scarcity and bracing the harsh season to come, which in the Northeast seems to extend longer and longer each year.
Last year, winter weather lasted well into the spring months with snowstorm warnings littering all the major weather channels at the end of March. For this womyn with both Southern and Caribbean heritage, that could be a terrifying reality—add my vitamin D deficiency, and, Houston, we could have a really big problem when I think about the colder climate ahead. I already can feel the weather breaking.
What have we harvested from summer and with what will we travel into fall?
Yesterday, I shared that I will be reflecting on the summer and beginning the pattern of large seasonal reflection. Transitions are not to be overlooked. Entry and exit into and out of these periods can complement or complicate the season ahead.
In a wonderful blog post, Finding Time to Transition into Fall: Mind, Body and Spirit!, the author keenly notes that unlike sudden changes, transitions are “planful” processes—meaning the power is in our hands to fashion our transitions in whatever manner we select. This wonderful time in the rainy fogginess of the last couple of days is a great for reflecting, paring or letting go of what is past and getting ready for what lies ahead.
Animals and birds do it. Why shouldn’t we fall in line?
Both flora and fauna make their transitions clear. We see leaves change color and pedals fall or close. “Squirrels collect nuts, mice collect seeds and jays collect acorns”, this one article, What Happens in Autumn, shares. It continues, “Animals eat as much as they can…to store up fat reserves for winter…crickets and grasshoppers die before winter comes but have already laid their eggs…birds are stronger flyers than insects and many of them flee the oncoming winter.”
Ants are the most interesting to me in how they prepare for their winter hibernation. Ants secure nests via insulation against the autumn winds and blistering winter gale. In fact, if a nest is well insulated it can actually generate heat, which is why ants’ nests are where snow will first melt in the pine woods, for example.
This is slightly embarrassing for me since I usually do not start my own window insulation until December or the dead of winter. Hmm, have the ants outsmarted me? (For a BBC Radio special, “Life of Ants”, following ants as they prepare for each season go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/lifeofants.shtml)
Let us walk into our preparatory season well. This will encompass (1) reflecting on your summer’s bounty, (2) visioning what your autumn will be and (3) deciding what from your bounty will you carry on with you. But remember—some things have to remain behind.
Summersault into Autumn 1-2-3
#1 Reflecting on My Summer’s Bounty
o I have been to P-Town, Cape Cod, Toronto, D.C., the Jersey Shore and NYC. I have gone to NYC probably 3-4 times a month during the summer. What a blessing has purchasing my first car been!
o Province Town, Mass. was the first time I cut off my nails and worked to get my hands dirty—literally and metaphorically—in communion with the new earth I encountered. I felt so free near water and rock, sand and tree. On the ride and journey to these various destinations, I felt a sense of righteous bravery and invincibility that worked to exercise my once clipped and bended creative wings.
· Family Bonding:
o Solidifying my relationship with my niece such that she knows whenever she has a major event or simply wants to go somewhere fun, her Auntie Shayna will ride up to take her. I wanted her to know that her preciousness and innocence has that much command in the world.
o Deepening my relationship with my sister, mom and dad via having my car and being willing to visit them or take them anywhere if our schedules align. I wanted them to know that their wellbeing and wishes are very much a part of my future planning.
· Cleaning House:
o In preparation for my new roommate in August—the 20th to be exact, I began to clean house—clearing out old boxes, emptying closets, rearranging and adding furniture, hanging more cozy items on the walls, pushing my landlord to finish the carpeting and other repairs and cleaning every week.
o This created a sense of pride in my home that I have never had. I just saw it as a place to lay my head and drop my clothes. This supported the emerging pride that I had developed for car and body maintenance.
o Further, as an extraverted person—one who gets energized by or in the presence of other people—how important it has been to have another body in my place has been. The laughter, phone conversations, movement, negotiation and all has been so invigorating and motivational.
· Creative Writing:
o I began blogging and writing creatively after a two-year hiatus!
o This summer of love and living on the edge burst open the dusty attic in my head and heart to release all the precious jewels of thought, words and images I had long forgotten was within me, my reach.
· Increased Health
o With a determination to get my whole self toward balance, I began working out 3 – 5 times a week with amazing results. This commitment catapulted me into fidelity regarding other commitments I set for myself such as creating an orderly home, anger management, cultivating more reciprocal relationships and getting on track toward fiscal soundness.
#2 My Autumn Vision
· Scheduling Upcoming Travels: St. Louis (Fall), Israel (Winter), France (Spring), Bolivia (Summer) and hopefully Japan
· Sharpen Mental Capacities: Studying for the GRE’s again, playing word games, building my memory, free styling and doing more Sudokou puzzles
· Sharpening Writing Mechanics, Creative Writing and Theatrical Skills: Atted
· Strength Entrepreneurial Ventures: Juice Plus+ and project management
· Set Foundation for Becoming a Wellness Practitioner: Reflexology, herbology, massage therapy and nutrition
· Increasing My Reading of Entire Books Exponentially:
· REST: I tried sleeping 7.5 hours a night and had such amazing results. I would like to ensure that I prioritize resting space as well as relaxation activities such as bathing, massages and fun movies
#3 What Will I Carry Over
· New and rejuvenated relationships
· Bravery and urge to travel
· Increased wellness practices
· Improved interpersonal communications
Bonus: What I Will Not Allow to Carry Over
· Trying to make everyone content
· Dragging my feet to go to work, meetings or events
· Taking rejection personal in business and in love life
· Feeling that I have to do something versus realizing I am choosing to do all I do and I can choose to do differently
· Being yelled at or picked apart
· Taking on others issues as my own or an indication of a deficiency within me
· Feeling that I need someone else to fulfill me and water my garden
· Neglecting home, office and body care
· Shutting down and not expressing the struggles I am facing
September will be my sobering month where I increase moderation in a multitude of areas in my daily life: Diet, portions, going out and temperament. I want to decrease the number of functions I attend drastically heading into the winter. To do so, I have to begin easing my schedule now. I want to have more time at home to practice reflexology, write, study, work out, take baths, cook and invite guests over.
What is your Summersault into Autumn 1-2-3s? Don’t forget to add the bonus!
So, we are now at the unofficial start to fall 2011. Summer has come and gone that quickly, and what a summer it has been. From hurricanes to earthquakes to broken and new relationships to deep introspection to preparing for the next chapter in our lives--my, we have grown.
I am working on the starting-of-the-week wellness post, of course challenged by the long Labor Day weekend and a mini-road trip with my girls.
In that upcoming post, I am going to share what this summer has been for me regarding transforming my life into balance. This both is and is not Zen, walking through rose gardens proselytizing. I want to from deep and sincere places share that letting go takes control, that life change takes commitment, that the tiny things build and that honesty braces the hard hits--my greatest lesson and the prompt for this blog.
Honesty, I have come to learn, is a powerful way to start transformation. This is seeking clarity. Deepak Chopra shares in his recording, "Higher Self" on Heart Meditations, that it is essential to ask our divine selves or the mystery we call God for clarity. For, this is how we receive direction and reach alignment in step.
I discovered that starting with honest reflection has transformed me--someone who for all of her public appearances is more reclusive and private than one might ever conclude. Thus, I kept much of my struggle in the dark.
From the outpouring of support I received from this blog in my sharing trials and triumphs, I see the confirmation in starting with honesty. This brings me to my next point in that honesty is beyond you. There is a witnessing component here, which could both be internal and external. Basically, there is a "someone else" factor inherent in the act that provides perspective and accountability.
When you share amongst witnesses your efforts towards change, they will check on you. My mom has worked to hold me accountable to my wellness shifts, asking about new discoveries and successes.
My readers have worked to continually motivate me; for, I see that my personal work is also public and political. They help me see it is about changing lives and systems.
My friends have worked to provide reflection and perspective. They have seen my trials in attempting to integrate my whole self toward balance--work life, relationships, mental health, weight management, childhood traumas, spiritual fulfillment and garnering emotional awareness and language.
We must become well not only for ourselves but for each other. Walking toward wellness has a spilling over effect. Others will begin to drink of it also and produce their own drink from which you will in kind feed. O’ how we will grow brave and honest together.
As we are here at the changing of the season, I want to begin the pattern of large seasonal reflection coupled with daily or weekly meditations. This couple of times a week blog posting helps with introspection on micro-levels. Yet, I am sitting down tonight for the meta-reflection: What has this summer been for me in terms of wellness? Who have I now become?
I ask you, dear reader, to do the same and meet my commentary tomorrow with your stories as well: What has this summer been for you in terms of wellness?
Cannot wait to share and to witness!
This Wellness blog is to share the author's trials and triumphs in becoming more present and centering her daily routines around health practices that build from the inside out.
It is her hope to spark dialogue and resource sharing as well as encouragement for those newly embarking on their journey toward healing all over.
(This is a personal blog with resources for educational purposes only.)