Ways to celebrate and savor the hazy, lazy days of the last month of summer.
Ah August! The humid haze of the last month of summer. It’s the birthday month for those born under the Western zodiac signs Leo (until Aug. 22) and Virgo (from Aug. 23). Around the world but especially in the Northern hemisphere, it is a month for celebrating. August is the month of holidays and vacation trips. The August flower symbols are the gladiolus or poppy signifying beauty, love, marriage, and family. It is no wonder that it is a time for outdoor weddings, and therefore a very busy one for Life-Cycle Celebrants® like me.
In Canada, August begins with a long weekend (Civic Holiday) and ends with a long weekend (Labour Day). In the U.S. there are almost too many days of celebration within the month to list! From visions of roasting marshmallows around a campfire on National S’mores Day to the honoring and tasting of other foods like catfish, peaches, pecans, and trail mix on their “holidays,” we love excuses to celebrate. There are other rich celebrations of adventure, back to school, honey bees, National Milkshake Day, and one of my personal favorites: National Rum Day.
It says something about the kindness and caring hearts of the people of a country that has a National Senior Citizens Day, a National Hug Your Boss Day, a National Women’s Equality Day and a National Friendship Day. I love the sense of humor of a country that has declared a National Bad Poetry Day, Presidential Joke Day, National Fresh Breath Day, National Underwear Day, coincidentally enjoyed on the same day as International Beer Day, as well as a National Lazy Day. These days are set aside encouraging us to relax, slow down, and laugh.
Art of Slowing Down
It is an art, this slowing down thing. But I think the easiest time to take the time to slow down is in the month of August—at least in the Northern Hemisphere. I like the expression I read somewhere that August is like the Sunday of summer. August is also the month most referred to in the idiom “the dog days of summer.” Have you ever wondered how that expression came into our language? Many of us have used it without even knowing the roots of its meaning. I thought it was just a phrase for the deep hot humid days of summer when laziness is more respectable and sought after; when dogs with their fur coats lay around exhausted. It is a time when we humans can just languish, put our feet up and be inactive without guilt—at least after work.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had a name for these hottest days, diēscaniculārēs or “dog days." They said the brightest summer star in the constellation Canus Major (large dog), known as Sirius or “Dog Star” for the extra heat on the planet. They may have been about thinking that the dog days could bring catastrophe, war and disaster. New meanings have evolved since the phrase was translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago.
Now there are many of us who look forward to the dog days, planning all that we might do to enjoy the annual dog days most thoroughly. We plan to take advantage of the hazy lazy days to go camping, swimming, chill on the deck with a good novel or share an icy drink and BBQ with good friends.
I am of the mind that we all need a little bit of slow calm August in our daily lives. We need to be fully present in the moment rather than rushing through to the next. Quality, personal connections, peace of mind and health are sacrificed for speed and an unsustainable overload of activity. Are you ready to make changes in your life? The following are tips for slowing down and allowing yourself the recovery and recuperation time you deserve between the flurries of activity everyday life creates.
The Slow Zone Tips
- Get up half an hour earlier each morning to allow yourself time to stretch, to think, to sip your tea or coffee before heading out the door.
- Make your to-do list realistic and just what you can easily accomplish in one day—and do the hardest thing first. Create your list the night before and prioritize the must do's from the would be nice's. Items not accomplished are placed on the next day’s list, without guilt.
- Take frequent breaks—change type of tasks from sedentary to movement. For instance, after you check your email, go clean the bathroom sink. Read a chapter, and then go pick up the groceries.
- Don’t be distracted when driving by allowing ample time between appointments and always expecting delays. When you arrive at your destination early, pump up the volume to your favorite tunes and sing along!
- Be a giver—hugs are free. Write grateful and encouraging words to friends on Facebook. Be loving and be helpful. Smile.
- Know that it is OK to just relax; it is OK to take that hot bubble bath by candlelight. The housework will wait and you will speed through it when you have looked after yourself properly.
- Practice releasing your fear of being judged, of missing out, of not finishing—you need only be happy with yourself.
- Give yourself no-screen-time without apology. Embrace the relaxation of painting your nails, practicing some yoga moves, or strumming your guitar.
- Watch those sunsets, fly a kite, read that bit of fluff romance novel. Think about how to celebrate an upcoming milestone for you or a loved one.
- Celebrate all of the declared holidays that are meaningful to you in your own way. Tap into the appreciation of foods, beverages, sentiments, and other human beings.
- Check out the Celebrant Foundation & Institute www.celebrantinstitute.org for a Celebrant near you or to ruminate about some ideas for future life-cycle ceremonies for you or your favorite people.
Savor your moments in time, create little pauses of reflection, love your life, take care of yourself and expand your capacity to grow, create, connect, and discover new ideas and values. Transform yourself into a master of self-care—you will never regret it. As you become a pro in the art of slowing down, I wish you health, happiness, and the energy to take part in many of life’s joyous occasions!