“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” -Lucy Maud Montgomery
Sweet summer is officially on the horizon, with the solstice arriving this Sunday, June 20th. After the past year and a half, the promise of sunny, carefree days feels more significant than ever. Finally, it feels safe to exhale and embrace a sense of optimism about the future.
While so many of us are eager to jump back into our old lives, we at HHA believe there’s a potent opportunity on our hands during this “in-between” transition we find ourselves in. The light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t mean we have to go back to our old ways and rushed pace of living. Now is the time to mindfully integrate the lessons learned in 2020 to create the life we want to be living — one marked by balance and well-being.
Embracing the summer solstice
The summer solstice, which marks the longest day of the year, is perfect for reflection and intention-setting. Since ancient times, this solar occasion has been celebrated by cultures all over the world. In ancient China, it was a time to honor yin qualities, which meant finding ways to slow down and cool off to maintain balance in the heat.
This year, solstice rituals take on a deeper meaning as we carve out our intentions for not just summer, but “a new normal.” As much as we want to put the dark times behind us, there’s also an unprecedented opportunity to focus more on what matters and to move forward with these principles front and center. Maybe you realized how much joy it brings you to eat at home as a family, the importance of your relationships and community, or just how much beauty there is in your own backyard. Maybe you experienced a shift in perspective or a new appreciation for slowing down.
One simple way to honor the energy you want to bring forth on the solstice is to create a summer altar. An altar is a sacred space for you to draw inward and tend to your spirit, whatever that means to you. You can set up your altar with anything you’d like, such as flowers, candles, photos, or other natural elements that have meaning for you. Perhaps you begin or end the day with a gratitude practice at your altar, setting an intention, or meditating on a mantra (such as, “I am enough” or “I am present in this moment”). Perhaps you just admire the beauty and reminder of abundance you have created!
Reconnecting with simple summer joys
Pre-pandemic, it’s safe to say that our culture embraced a “go big or go home” mentality. But, when we had no choice but to stay home, we found joy in the little things, whether it was baking bread or planting veggies. While our world is always filled with simple wonders, they seem to be more abundant than ever in the summertime.
This summer, we can continue to bloom where we’re planted and find peace in the moment. Here are just a few simple pleasures to inspire you!
*Flowers are at their most plentiful and inexpensive during the summer - so don’t forget to grab a fresh bouquet! If there’s one thing we learned during the pandemic, it’s the power of putting yourself in the way of beauty, no matter what.
*There are few problems that a frosty treat on a hot day can’t solve. Savor the delight of an ice cream cone, lemonade, or some mouth-watering watermelon (even better if you can keep it in the fridge for a day).
*Even if you don’t have the space for a garden, nurturing a container or potted plant can do wonders for the soul.
*Enjoy a barefoot picnic with loved ones.
*Treat yourself to a lazy day spent in a hammock.
*Remember that pure joy of catching fireflies or lightning bugs you felt as a child? Bring it back with your own kids...or your own inner child! And don't forget to set them free!
*Summer is the perfect time to turn ripe fruits into jams or jellies that you’ll be thankful for come winter.
*Don your favorite floppy hat, flowiest sun dress, or all-around most beloved summer attire. Notice the immediate shift in your energy when you do so!
*There’s nothing better than camping out in your own backyard and sleeping under the stars. Or, simply lay in the grass and make shapes out of clouds.
Happy summer everyone, and thanks so much for reading. Here at HHA, the past year certainly deepened our appreciation for our wonderful community — and that’s something we don’t plan on ever taking for granted! Remember to follow us on Facebook for regular inspiration and special offers.
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.