Happy Summer, light beams.
Can you believe IT's already here?
Doing a seasonal round up for late spring was so much fun, I wanted to begin doing one each month or so. I found it to be an excellent way to note how the seasons evolve and affect us!
Speaking of which, can you believe the summer solstice was last week?
I've been noting a change in my energy, now that the day's length has reached its peak and the temperature has grown increasingly warmer.
THE PINNACLE OF EXPRESSION //
I've felt alarmingly antsy, but I couldn't place my finger on it.
My best friend told me, "Claudia, you're on edge. You should take a break from the city..."
I himmed and hawed.
Sure, we all need a break from the bustle -- but this time was different.
I didn't feel the longing for a slower pace, which typically plagues me when it's time for a rendezvous upstate. No, there was/is an internal engine revving. A quiet motor that has me ready to throttle.
The uneasiness made sense when I happened across a newsletter in my inbox from the editor of the independent magazine, Lucia. She mentioned summer being the pinnacle of expression.
"Summer is fruition. We are heading into the thick of the season when all of the things come to their full expression, to the pinnacle...they bloom. The anticipated abundance of what we planted months ago is here, now. Not only in the garden, but in our lives." - Laura Lowery
Oh, yeah -- expression. That's what's bottled up.
The flowers are reaching their fullest potential; everything is at it’s peak, just now.
Full. Fricken. Blossom.
And I have to say, I feel a deep resonance. I just want to do. I'm craving getting-out-there, expressing myself, socializing, being active. The energy within feels abundant — and possesses a need to be shared. There’s a desire for physicality in our bodies. To expend our energy via expression -- whatever medium that manifests in.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. Summer is the season of abundance and peak Yang energy. That is: the strong, masculine, heat energy. It manifests as outgoingness, vibrancy, expansion, activity, warmth, and interaction.
FIRE is the element associated with summer. We can feel + enjoy the strength of the sun on our skin (Vitamin D anyone?). We let it draw us outside, and into the world so we can expand, grow, and express ourselves. All the work we did in Winter + Spring has the opportunity to be realized.
The FIRE element is associated with our HEART + SMALL INTESTINE.
I loved this image I found that illustrated the similarities happening in our external environment to our internal environment. Just as the heat of summer warms the streams, allowing them to flow freely, the same is true in our microcosm (our own bodies). Our heart circulates the flow of blood through the networks of arteries, veins, capillaries, aiding in our activity and promoting our digestion.
Our HEART is also the house of the Spirit in TCM, and governs the emotion of JOY.
"The heart is the ruler over summer. The heart is the root of life and generates all changes in spirit." -- Traditional Chinese saying
We find JOY filling our work, play (oh, so much play), and relationships in summertime. It's an opportune moment to nurture our minds and consciousness so our hearts feel harmonious + strong. When in balance with the season we experience the benefits of:
- sensitivity + expression
- true fulfillment
- equilibrium of heart and mind
We can better harmonize with the intense heat of summer by eating foods neutral + cooler in temperature. And by that I mean energetic temperature, not actual temperature -- like popsicles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It's a great season to explore your local Farmer's Market.
We can hydrate the body, as well, by enjoying the abundance of fruits and vegetables available at this time. It's appropriate to eat more raw foods (very cool in energetic temperature) during the summer season - for example nourishing salads - to keep us cool and hydrated.
- summer squashes + zucchini
- bitter greens, like kale
- bok choy
- brown rice
... and generally lessening our intake of coffee, alcohol, red meats, dairy products, and fried or fatty foods.
WHAT I'M INVESTING IN
FOR EARLY-SUMMER SUCCESS:
HIGH INTENSITY PHYSICALITY REQUIRES EVENING REJUVENATION -
June, is about creating rituals that nurture the outgoingness summer ignites in us; so we can rise, throttle, and repeat -- consistently.
I'm finding myself pursuing wild dancing, upping my weekly SLT class-taking, boxing, jogging outdoors, getting back into HIIT training, and yoga -- I'm looking for whatever's taking my athleticism to the edge.
But if I've learned anything about approaching edges over the past year and a half of dealing with a chronic injury, it's that you can push towards your edge from two very different places.
We can push recklessly, or push consciously.
Consciously approaching your edge means nourishing and rejuvenating your body for the work it's doing just as often as you're getting out there and doing the work.
I've decided I need to make regular acupuncture treatments a priority. That, in combination with new morning classes at SLT Williamsburg, has me all about intentionally winding down early on nights prior, so I'm ready to rise and throttle in the morning.
Seriously though, when was the last time you were ready to be in bed by 9:30PM?
For me, it's been too long. I'm finally putting in some effort to change this habit after too many years of staying up way past a decent hour in "the city that never sleeps" (for no good reason at all, except a resistance to winding down).
I've started creating an evening ritual that's so luxuriously rejuvenating, it's impossible to resist.
1. an early shower and facial oils
First, get that showa + steam going. Once you've rinsed off whatever stress and anxieties you were wearing from the day, dry off and apply generous amounts of *facial/body oils to hydrate the skin and replenish its moisture. #goddessvibes
*you'll find oil recommendations below!
2. rolling and reading
Next up, your muscles will ideally still be warm from the steam of the shower, so it's a perfect time to jump onto a foam roller to release the knots and kinks in your body. (If you've never foam rolled before, not to worry, I will have a post on that for you super soon.) Foam rolling, or self massage work (done with a tennis, lacrosse, or any other kind of ball/tool) is awesome for combatting muscle soreness, increasing muscle recovery speed, and also preventing injury. It essentially keeps your muscles, fascia, and neural pathways functioning properly, and helps to correct imbalances before they take a toll.
I usually will multi-task, and either accomplish some *reading, or watch some TV. I was binge watching House of Cards the past few weeks, and couldn't seem to not watch it in my downtime. Literally impossible.
*reading suggestions can be found below!
I found this at Urban Outfitters this week. I was surprised, but very intrigued, and now completely obsessed. I'm most familiar with Himalayan Salt Stone in the form of Salt Lamps, known for their detoxifying + mood enhancing properties in your space/home. .
This salt sphere - by Evolution Salt Co. - digs into all the right places with an extra detoxifying element for your bod.
BENEFITS OF HIMALAYAN SALT STONE:
- 84 essential and trace minerals which help to ground + balance the body's energetic pathways
- Anti-microbial and anti-bacterial
- Naturally detoxifies and helps to alkalize the body
- When heated, with a heating pad (I'm not a fan of microwaves. radiation = yucky!) it can aid in increased relaxation of the muscles and fascia
- When chilled, it can help to further reduce inflammation
- Keep In Mind: If you are a new to self-myofascial release work and just starting to experiment with rolling out, try starting with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball. The salt stone is very dense and is more appropriate for those comfortable with the practice already.
3. "restorative chill"
This includes slipping in my Toe Spacers/Yoga Toes or sitting with my legs up the wall for 5-20 minutes -- both tools I learned in the studio dancing to mobilize recovery and foster longevity during long rehearsal/performance periods.
Legs Up the Wall, was a trick I learned in college. We'd finish a 3 hour rehearsal and sometimes have another one following it with a different choreographer, so you could often find us clumped side by side in the studio after rehearsal. Our heels would be kicked up the wall, resting behind the ballet barre.
It turns out though, in yoga, this pose - Viparita Karani - is actually considered an inversion. It refreshes the legs by letting gravity coax the lymph and fluids/inflammation that collects and stagnates in our legs down towards our center. It's a great yin compliment to the yang energy of summer. Use when standing or sitting for long periods of time, when stressed or fatigued, or when jet lagged from traveling.
Othertimes, if I don't care to be inverted but still am looking for some "restorative chill" I will slide on my Toe Spacers/Yoga Toes. Another tool I originally learned as a dancer, these silicone accessories are helpful to correct imbalances in the structures of the feet. Most notably bunions -- which are very common for ballet dancers who work en pointe for many hours.
For contemporary dancers, they help create space in the toes and foot, making for a more articulate extremity, and also helping to relax or correct any tightness or muscular imbalances happening in the feet, either from overuse or footwear.
Give them a try - I really love how soft and spread my feet feel after wearing them for 20 minutes or so.
YES WAY, Rosé!
If there's anything that officially inaugurates summer, it's the classic, yet cliche glass of Rosé.
My personal favorite, at the moment, is GTS's Rosé Kombucha. Slightly less alcohol content than wine (because yes, alcohol is a natural biproduct of fermentation) yet all the gut-bacteria enhancing goodness of probiotics. Improving the health of our guts and gut bacteria is something to be doing any and every season for our best health, mood, and skin -- so sip, sip away.
As the heat intensifies, we're increasing our activity levels and the sweat is abundant. You might be looking to wear less make up day in and day out.
I know I've been favoring a "barely-there" beauty routine, gravitating towards products which give me a more natural glow with minimal application.
After I rinse my face with water, I'll apply Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate oil. It's so light and freshly fragrant. It deeply hydrates my skin, making it feel dewey and radiant in the A.M.
I was actually gifted this by my beauty role model and all-around all-star human Chrissie Hooper - who is the Senior Studio Manager at SoulCycle Tribeca. She gifted this bottle to me, with the wise words - "Start early with anti-aging."
Truthfully, I was super hesitant to begin using oils on my skin. I assumed they'd feel heavy and was convinced they were going to leave me with massive breakouts. But, the opposite has held true: they leave my skin feeling fresh, bright and clear. I feel it's helped my eczema, which tends to flare on my eyelid come summertime. No regrets. The bottle has lasted me for nearly 3 months, and I will definitely be purchasing another once this bottle is finished.
I also enjoy using a Nügg face mask 1-2 times a week as part of my evening routine. They're the cutest little self-care treat. I always snag a few as I walk through the checkout line in Whole Foods.
IN THE MORNING:
I typically shower in the morning, and then apply this Among the Flowers: Dawn body oil. I'll follow up with a cream moisturizer that has a bit more SPF in it, once the oil has absorbed.
Next, I'll use this illuminator stick from Smash Box Cosmetics along my cheeks, under the eyebrows and at my Cupid's bow, before I apply a touch of Glossier Stretch Concealer in Light and maybe some blush. Forget the mascara.
BOOK OF THE MOMENT: WHITE HOT TRUTH
by Danielle LaPorte
Embracing the Fire element of Summer means giving attention to and harmonizing what it represents: our heart, mind, and spirit.
BECAUSE OUR HEART GOVERNS OUR JOY, WISDOM + CONSCIOUSNESS WHAT MORE APPROPRIATE THAN TO CHOOSE A SUMMER READ THAT WILL REFRESH, RENEW, AND INSPIRE OUR SPIRITUAL AWARENESS?
And Danielle Laporte has written exactly that: a manifesto exploring how our self-criticism and self-helping may be sabotaging our joy. Her book is described as a "sage and (often hilariously) relatable exploration of the conflicts between genuine spiritual aspiration and our compulsion to improve" -- a wildly astute concept and a very necessary topic in today's wellness savvy, health trendy world.
I'm only just diving in, so I'll report back with mindblowing realizations at a later time, but so far I can offer this all too relatable and resonate excerpt:
"Is everything you're doing to be well and liberated really helping you to be well and liberated? Because if liberation is a chore, then you aren't really free, are you?
You can't seek approval on your way to sovereignty.
Freedom is not something you need to earn.
Joy does not come from a checklist.
I've had to fight for my joy. I've also loved and laughed and created my way to it. But it's fair to say that crushing the obstacles, torching the illusions, fielding the attacks, going down with the grief -- it's been some strenuous work.
I think of the places that I made myself go to become intimate with the dualities of Love and expediency, Light and darkness, confusion and clarity. I got through those portals the scrappy, human way, the way mortals discover their connection to the cosmos: laughing really hard on the phone with girlfriends, and weeping alone on the kitchen floor. I did it with a home birth. Divorce. Building a career, word by word. Leaving it all on the stage. Begging psychics for answers and pressing gurus for practicalities. Praying daily for the Light, to the Light, with the Light.
At this point in my life, I am the joy that I fought for.
Now that I'm here, very directly facing my Soul, I wonder if all that "hard self-help work" was a really messed up way to go about finding illumination? Could I have just accepted myself sooner and saved a lot of money on therapy? Maybe. But probably not. Truth is a journey.
You have to Love yourself into fullness. "
If you're curious, and want some ear-candy to see if it's worth the commitment (it is.) of reading a book (gasp!), you'll find a few podcast suggestions below where Danielle speaks about the book, and what led her to write these words.
- THE GOOD LIFE PROJECT: Danielle LaPorte: Truth, Devotion and the Evolution of Joy
- UNMISTAKABLE CREATIVE: Danielle LaPorte: White Hot Truth
- LET IT OUT WITH KATIE DALEBOUT: Danielle Laporte on Self-help Exhaustion, A New Way to Use Gratitude, Feminism, Creativity, Motherhood, & Flow
- THE MARIE FORLEO PODCAST: Danielle LaPorte Gets Real About Self-Compassion, Positive Thinking, & More
- THE SCHOOL OF GREATNESS WITH LEWIS HOWES: Danielle LaPorte: Own Your Truth
If you're already all like, "Enlighten me." - click here to get your hands on a copy!
OTHER THINGS I'M ALL ABOUT RIGHT NOW:
Because veggie tacos are my latest obsession, and these grain-free tortillas are my JAM.
Dying to do your work outdoors? But don't want to get swamped by the sun or distracted by crowds in Washington Square Park?
Head up to Greenacres Park - 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. There's a gorgeous waterfall garden with tables and chairs. (And did I mention the perfect amount of shade?)
Ambient, soothing sounds of crashing water. It's the perfect office oasis in this concrete jungle.
Moving season anyone?
Purchase some Palo Santo and/or Sage, then listen to this bomb episode of That's So Retrograde podcast to learn how and why energetic clearing is important. It's a step I'm looking to take before settling into my new space.
I love these gorgeously curated smudging bundles by Catherine Rising - who I was so excited to discover works from Rochester NY, nearby where I'm from originally.
Come see me perform with Violet Sound on July 8th and 9th if you're in NYC - free to the public as part of the INSITU Site Specific Dane Festival. I'll be dive rolling into the sandy and slightly polluted shores of LIC near Socrates Sculpture Garden. Super excited to share this new work -Terroir - by Hannah Jean Hildreth with you. There's a rad line up of talented artists all showing work, and you'll be able to meander through the sculpture garden to the different performance sites throughout the day. Follow me @enchantedbysunlight, @violetsound, or @insitu on Instagram for updates.
Stay light. Keep it bright.
Comment below or write me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
#enchantedbysunlight to share how you're embracing radiance in early summer.