Magical Summer

This edition of the seasonal timings will explore summer in the northern hemisphere. Summer solstice occurs on or around June 21st when the sun is at its most northerly point relative to the celestial equator. The definition of solstice comes from the Latin words, “sol” (sun) and sistere (stopped or stationary). At solstice, the sun appears to stand still or pause in its declination before changing direction and moving toward its lowest declination taking place at winter solstice. This year, the summer solstice is Thursday, June 20, 2024, at 4:50 p.m. (EDT). This day and the next three days bring us the longest light and the shortest nights of the year. It can be a magical time!

  • Midsummer Celebrations:  Many cultures, ancient and modern, celebrate the summer and winter solstices. For the ancients, summer solstice marked the sun’s big moment! They built bonfires to celebrate the sun’s zenith and the warmth it brings to foster a healthy, abundant harvest. Celtic and other ancient cultures referred to summer solstice as midsummer based on it being at the midpoint between the cross-quarter holidays of Beltane and Lammas. You can welcome the solstice with this Beatles song, Here Comes the Sun! Midsummer is also a time of magical happenings, fairy or spirit sightings, and mischievous adventures. The 1968 movie version of Shakespear’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Dame Judi Dench as Tatania, recounts the farcical adventures of young lovers and fairies. The 1999 movie version of this classic features Michelle Pfeiffer and Christian Bale.
  • Practical Magic:  Synonyms for magic include remarkable, extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, and outstanding. The solstice itself is just one day in the remarkable summer season. But on this day of radiant sunshine, warmth, and long light, we can let magic lead the way to gratitude and open doors for extraordinary people, events, feelings, and experiences to enter in.
    • Using your journal, begin the day recording some things to be grateful for that already exist in your life. A few things I’m grateful for are health, meaningful relationships, and my garden. It is amazing to observe and work in my garden as the sun begins to nudge tiny green plants into colorful blossoms. What feels extraordinary or magical to you in the summertime?
    • Achieving a cherished goal can feel magical and joyful. Longer days provide the opportunity to actualize dreams and goals. Take time around the solstice to imagine or envision a life goal. It may be related to health or personal well-being, home and hearth, career, hobbies, or relationships. If you really want to get into the “magic” aspect, draw your goal with a pencil, pen, or sharpie. Then look at the drawing often. This encourages the neural pathways needed to inspire action toward the desired goal. It’s magic and it’s science!

Caregiver notes

With summer upon us, the alure of summer fun looms large. Remember that old song by Nat King Cole? Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda, and pretzels, and beer. Yes, indeed! Those days of summer fun, salty snacks, and cold drinks are appealing along with splashing around in the pool, picking fresh blackberries, watching a baseball game, or laying around in a hammock. However, we often have way too much to do, and not enough time to fully enjoy summertime! This is especially true for the “sandwich” generation (those who are raising kids, working their careers, and caring for aging parents). Here are some suggestions to help family caregivers enjoy summer fun.

  • Staycation ~ is a great alternative to vacation if kids or aging parents are unable to travel safely and with ease. The trick is to figure out a way to really relax into those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer while you are at home. For those who work away from home, this may be easier to accomplish than those who work at home. Start by turning off the tech, shutting the office door, putting the cell phone in airplane mode and just breathe! Additional tips:
    • Arrange a space inside or outside the home intended for summer fun. Lounge chairs, a grill, and a picnic table can create a designated outdoor chill zone. Don’t have an outdoor space? Create an inside staycation space using fluffy blankets and pillows for floor seating. Have a picnic basket, cooler, and music source nearby. When providing care for a live-in care recipient, caregivers may want to take solo time in the chill zone and/or invite family or care recipients into the space. Either way, caregivers and others should enter the chill zone mindfully, knowing it’s time to relax.
    • During staycation, trade in your work self for your “I’m on vacation” self. No sneaking a look at the “to do” list or deep cleaning the house. Kick off your shoes, listen to music, read for fun, play board games, do a long yoga or meditation session, enjoy snacks and drinks with loved ones, or just generally chill out. Explain to care recipients that during staycation you may arrange for respite care so you can have personal time to rejuvenate outside the home. 
    • Short local excursions to a beach, art gallery, farmer’s market, or other nearby attraction can make for enjoyable staycation activities solo or with others. If you are taking the whole family along, be sure to pack sunscreen, insect repellant, first aid kit, hats, sunglasses, snacks, and electrolyte drinks. Don’t forget assistive devices (walker or cane, back brace, hearing aids, medications, etc.) for elders. Check the road and weather conditions before departure. Keep the adventure long enough to be unique and fun, but short enough to hold the little ones’ attention and avoid tiring the elders.
  • Beating the heat ~ is very important, especially if you are caring for elders. The elevated temps and humidity in some areas can be dangerous, even lethal. Avoid dehydration with plenty of water and electrolyte drinks. This is a great resource to learn about how to avoid medical emergencies due to excessive heat.
  • Cool food for hot days ~ Take good care of yourself and your care recipients with foods that cool the body during a heat wave. Watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, mango, cantaloupe, honey dew, or other melons, yogurt (non-dairy coconut, cashew, almond, or soy yogurts are widely available), avocado, fresh mint, and leafy green veggies like arugula, butter lettuce, kale, spinach, or chard are a few favorites. Coconut water is delicious and restores important electrolytes. Adding a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange to the water bottle will be refreshing and offer a dash of vitamin C.

On the BlogThe Long Covid Series is both a memoir and a resource for the “living well” portion of our mission. Entries include: Toxic What?, Support and Holding Space, and Radical Acceptance. “X” is for Xing (Crossing) Parts 1, 2, and 3 are now available in the ABC’s for Living Well.

Quote for Season:Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” ~ Jenny Han, Author

May all beings be safe, well, happy, and content.

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