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Falling Softly from the Peak of Summer

Viceroy ButterflyThe summer is ending.  There I said it.  I’ve been trying to deny it, but the more I deny it, the more I see the telltale signs: the crickets chirp throughout the day and night now, the blackbirds flock and fly between the tops of the oak trees whistling and chatting to each other, the breeze is slightly unsettling now and I have to wrestle with the option of throwing on a jacket, and then there’s that odd craving for apple-cider donuts and candy corn.

Summer is a time of heat, light and color, energy, movement, and life.  And so, when it turns to leave, as it always does, warm turns to cool, light to shadow, fuchsia and turquoise turn to grey, taupe, and rust, the bike-ride gets replaced by the knitting project, and cinnamon and clove scents now override those of passion fruit and honeysuckle.  The life energy that made spring possible is transformed, hibernated, suspended, metamorphosed.

For many of us, but not all, the Summer-Fall transformation is a tough one.  Here are four ideas to consider in order to create a transition that is meaningful, and easier on the mind, and the body.

  1. “Change” is hard–Think “Metamorphosis” instead.  The word metamorphosis itself conjures images of butterflies—the quintessentially summer jewels that flit about our green gardens—and science class where we memorized the steps involved in a magical transformation.  Summer never leaves abruptly and autumn never arrives overnight—it is a magical transformation of the earth, it’s natural life, energy and light.  Metamorphosis implies that the change itself is worth our attention and can be valued and met with awe.  When we view the transition from summer to fall with gratitude, optimism and positive regard, it can seem quite amazing and beautiful.  And so it goes that when we meet, greet, understand, and accept what we ultimately want to escape, we may also be transformed—our fear of change is dissolved, and the blessings and beauty of the season come to us.
  2. Going Inward.  Summer is a time spent outside in the fresh air, bathing in natural bodies of water, our skin and eyes take in more sun and light, and in our homes and workplaces, the doors and windows are open to let the breezes in.  But when cool weather comes, and the sun’s rays diminish in intensity and time, we go inside, turn inward, shut in.  This doesn’t have to be a time to shut down, but can be a time of self-inspection, deepening, and sheltering.  Dust off the journal that you had no time to write in in summer and start listening to your inside voice more intently.  Now’s the time to read that self-help book you’ve been meaning to read too.  This can be a time of renewed self-focused activity, understanding, and planning.
  3. Keep friends close and family rituals alive.  Humans are grounded by the people around us—family and friends, and even co-workers can be grounding—and by the rituals that bring meaning and awareness to our lives.  Don’t forget about the healing power and strength these connections have on our lives—plan on being a part of them during transitions.  Get out and plan a day of apple or pumpkin picking with friends and/or family.  Celebrate religious or spiritual holidays with the people you care about.  Plan dinners with family when the sun is long gone and the harvest moon hovers on the horizon.
  4. Get back to healthy eating and healthy coping.  Pull out the vitamins again, dust off the treadmill for indoor exercise, ready the hat, gloves, and under layers for outside exercise, and stock your kitchen with warming, calming herbal teas, and root veggies for stews and soups.  Stress increases around back-to-school time, and planning begins again in earnest at work.  Plan ahead to lessen stress this fall.  Prepare the kids, their bedtimes, and their backpacks and snacks BEFORE school starts so that you are not stressing out last minute.  “Tune in” to calm down and maintain balance.  For instance, find 5-15 minutes daily to meditate, practice deep breathing or a few yoga poses for grounding, journal your thoughts every morning or night, post affirmations around the house, find calming aromas and scents to enjoy inside—clove and cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and apple cider.

So, do you think you can make the most of a seasonal change this year?  Yes you can.  Please share your thoughts, your successes, and your strategies for undergoing your own summer-to-fall metamorphosis.

Disclaimer: These suggestions are no substitute for actual medical or psychological care—please see your PCP or therapist as needed for your personal wellbeing.

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