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Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
June 12, 2008
Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.
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Thanks for your Thoughts
I appreciated all the kind condolences and expressions of concern I got from those of you who wrote to me after my last newsletter. If you haven’t heard from me yet, Iím still working my way through the email.
It’s funny because I had a hard time letting people at work and in my sphere of acquaintances and even my extended family know about my daughter’s troubles and my brother’s death but I didn’t have any trouble sharing it with you. And now I know why. You provided me with such calm and compassionate messages and I felt truly grateful and touched by your words.
My life has gone more smoothly over the past four weeks and I am hoping that trend continues.
My Season: Complaint Free Zone
It’s almost Midsummer here in Seattle and the weather has been unseasonably cool and wet. For weeks, it’s been the first topic that comes up in any casual conversation, at the coffee shop, at work, at writing group.
I’ve been watching this with amusement and not saying much myself for two reasons:
1) Seattle is always cloudy and cool in June (which some folks are now calling Juneuary). I celebrate Summer Solstice at the beach almost every year and I believe it’s rained I mean, really rained, not just drizzled about one out of every three times. When it isn’t raining, it’s usually cold and windy. It’s a rare Summer Solstice that is sunny in Seattle.
2) I’m reading a book called A Complaint-Free World written by Will Bowen, a pastor in Kansas City, Missouri, who encouraged his congregation to adopt the habit of not complaining. He handed out purple plastic wristbands (a rubber band will work as well) and asked them to switch the band from one wrist to another every time they complained. The goal was to go for 21 days without complaining. Bowen comments that his personal best record after one week was five complaints a day, but the next day he was back up to twelve. It took him months to achieve his goal of 21 complaint-free days.
How do you define a complaint? Bowen says it’s a complaint whenever you experience an internal dissatisfaction. (But unlike in the Catholic Church, it’s not a sin if you just think it in your mind. It’s only a complaint if you voice it.) Gossiping is out too, since that’s usually expressing dissatisfaction about someone else’s behavior.
The experiment caught on rapidly in Bowen’s congregation and soon spread through the entire town. Eventually Bowen set up a web site AComplaintFreeWorld.org and wrote the book A Complaint Free World which I’m reading (which is sort-of a one-note idea; I hope that doesn’t sound like complaining! but still enjoyable). I don’t have my purple wristband yet but I am interested in seeing how my world might change if I stopped complaining. Already I think my attitude at work has shifted for the better.
And so far I’m doing pretty well at listening to people complain about the weather without complaining about their complaining.
May your summer be just the way you like it,
Updated June Calendar
The May calendar has been up since the first of the month. You will find holidays like Mugwort Day, Bloomsday, Tears of Isis, Hersephoria, Dragon Boat Festival, Transfiguration plus all the festivals around Summer Solstice.
New Slow Time Book News
The Slow Time book is still climbing (slowly) up the ranks at Lulu, my print-on-demand publisher. (Last month it was at 706, now 692!)
If you’d rather read my Slow Time book slowly, I’m posting the chapters, one a month, on the Slow Time book website. The sixth chapter, “By the Light of the Moon” will be posted on June 15.
Living in Season: Summer SAD
I’ve never been a big fan of summer as a season. I was one of those nerdy kids who could hardly wait for school to start again in fall. That’s partly because I like structure. The endless freedom of summer was intimidating.
So was the pull of the outdoors, which is even stronger here in Seattle, than in Los Angeles where I grew up. Since the sun so rarely shines in Seattle, when it does, everyone rushes outside to hike, or bike, or hang out in the park or sit at an outside table at a coffee shop or restaurant (never enough of those tables on a sunny day in Seattle). Since we’re so far north, we get a lot of those sunny hours when they arrive: nearly 16 hours per day. That’s a lot of time to spend outdoors, goofing off, relaxing, socializing.
Because many of the things I love to do, like reading and writing, are best done alone and indoors, I’m always pulled between my desire to pursue my solitary activities and the desire to soak up every last bit of sun.
So I was very interested to learn about the recent research on the summer version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Most people have heard of the winter version, which usually affects people who live in northern latitudes (like Seattle) where we have only about 8-1/2 hours of light in the depth of winter. Winter SAD causes people to sleep more, to eat more and do less. (Now don’t those sound like natural responses to cold and dark?)
Just as winter blues correlate with northern latitudes, summer depression is more likely to occur in people who live in hot climates. Symptoms of summer Seasonal Affective Disorder include loss of appetite and weight, insomnia and agitation. (Now don’t those sound like natural responses to the heat and long days of summer?)
When asked, people who suffer from the summer blues blame the oppressive heat of summer, but scientists think the culprit might actually be the intense light. People affected by Summer SAD reported feeling better when they traveled north, stayed in air-conditioned environments or swam in cool water. (And doesn’t that sound like the obvious solution? Nothing better than a cold lake on a hot summer day.)
There is actually a term for summer hibernation in animals: estivation. Animals that estivate (including crocodiles, salamanders and certain frogs) spend the summer inactive and insulated from the heat. This may be a great attitude to adopt if you live in an intensely hot climate and can’t leave during the summer. Many of my readers who live in hot climates (Texas and Florida, for instance) complain about the cultural belief that summer is a time for outdoor activities. They estivate inside air-conditioned houses during most of the day, creeping out to do gardening or run errands only at the crack of dawn or as night falls.
Midsummer Holiday Packet
One week left to get this illustrated portfolio which contains over 40 pages of ideas for celebrating Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, Herb Evening, St. John's Day and Litha. It tells you how to:
You can read an excerpt from the packet on making wreaths (a traditional way to celebrate Midsummer) at this link:
It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).
Summer Correspondence Course
Thanks to popular demand, I'm offering the Summer School of the Seasons course again. There’s still space available.
The class lasts for nine weeks and began the first week in June (so we’re just studying the first lesson). You will receive a packet of information each week, providing information on various summer activities and suggesting tasks and projects that will help you interact with the natural world where you live, create a magic wand, celebrate Midsummer and Lammas, preserve the fruits of summer (in jams, chutneys, mead, sorbets, etc.), adopt a plant ally, gather magical herbs and make lavender wands.
Each week, I ask you to skim over or read thoroughly the material you receive, decide which of the tasks I suggest appeals to you or make up your own project, and report on what you are planning to do at our online class forum.
To enjoy all the benefits of the course, plan to devote at least three hours a week to your studies, which includes reading the weekly lesson, carrying out an activity and posting to the list serve. Because this is a summer course, I realize some of you might go on vacation. Don't worry. You can catch up later, and, if you have access to email while you're gone, we'll enjoy your travel reports.
Enrollment is limited to twelve students.
You can also receive the packets without enrolling in the class. I will send a Word document containing each week's lesson each week for nine weeks, beginning with the first week in June.
Summer Natural Planner
For a simpler, more personalized way of working with the season, you might be interested in the Summer version of the Natural Planner. This is essentially a set of worksheets and calendar pages you can use to identify the important themes and tasks you wish to accomplish during the season. Each month (for the months of May through August) you receive new calendar and theme pages to adapt to your life and you have the opportunity to post your commitments and results on a private blog created for the class. The cost is $40. To enroll, go to:
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$26 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. To order or to see a sample reflection, click here.
Signs of Summer
Alyss from Portland, Oregon sent me these lovely signs of Summer way back on May 14. I bet things are even more summery now in Portland:
Are you seeing any signs of summer where you live?
Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and I will post them on the website at Signs of the Season. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, or you wish to update your profile, please click below.
Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2008
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