Sloughing whispery dry skin, a snake reveals its jeweled scales for a leering sun. Little children lie in wait for the shu-shu-shu of the Eternal Yard Sprinkler, that Pied Piper devoted to inspiring giddy shrieks from wet dancing children throughout suburbia. A coy smile teetering on her ascetic lips, the Tasty Hut ice cream vendor adds a little more vanilla to her chill temptations. What about you? How will you mark the beginning of the season of ease?
There is something about summer that entices even the frumpiest to transmute into Isadora Duncan -- perennially barefoot (the better to feel cool grass between your toes), barely clad (the better to feel the flirtatious breeze), and bedecked with a flashy sunhat or shades that announce to the world you are ready for your convertible chariot (even if you drive a Subaru station wagon).
Summer lightness best begins in the heart and then blossoms outward. Here are some ideas on how to release those winter blahs and find your Inner Sylph or Satyr, just in time for Midsummer's Eve (you bonfire-leaping pagan, you!).
Restoring healthy priorities
Before renewal, it's vital to shed outworn fears, resentments and attachments. I release all people, places, things, thoughts, actions and words that are not in my highest good, and they release me.
Nancy Wellborn, a local intuitive healer, recommends this affirmation to her clients at the brink of desired change. Once the intention has been anchored, the space cleared of psychic clutter is ready to be filled anew. I attract all people, places, things, thoughts, actions and words that are in my highest good and they are attracted to me.
"When you go through the change from winter to summer, you are moving through a transition. I've learned to be especially aware of my thoughts during (that time), and to be clear that I prefer all changes to gentle, balanced and harmonious ones that bring ever-greater health, wealth and wisdom," says Nancy, who is also the owner and artist of Dragon's Nest Gallery. "If I'm thinking, I'm ready for a change, and carelessly send that unspecific order to the Great Shipping Clerk in the sky, then it can come in the form of an illness or an unexpected job disruption."
In addition to shamanic and energetic work, Nancy prescribes Perelandra Flower Essences that work subtly on the emotional body. For the soul's transition into summer, she recommends the essence of Zinnia for its mission of reconnecting one to the child within, restoring laughter, playfulness, joy and a sense of healthy priorities.
Nourishing the new self
Most people gain seven to eight pounds during the winter and you can get rid of that pretty quickly with supplements and cleansing, advises Karen Zappone, a licensed nutritionist who practices what she preaches. Her annual spring cleaning includes six biological systems: lymph, the skin (a major detox organ), lungs, kidneys, colon and liver.
It's not just about weight. The toxic load we carry daily due to the quality of our food, water and air has increased to the point of overload, resulting in fatigue and physical stress. (A 1991 EPA report states that Americans annually consume an average 14 pounds of additives from just a few of 100,000 chemicals in the U.S. food supply.) Most chemicals are stored in fat tissue. As your body starts to utilize that fat during a fast, you'll release toxins.
Karen begins her cleanse of the liver and colon by eating only raw food for three days (nuts, seeds, uncooked organic vegetables), followed by three days of pure water, vegetable juice and herbal teas, then three more days of raw food. Those who are too debilitated or reluctant to fast can always choose to simply eat more fresh foods. (Karen urges persons with chronic health conditions, diabetes or pregnancy to first discuss any dietary intentions with their doctors.)
Valerie Blankenship, owner and certified herbalist of Sage Woman Herbs Ltd. recommends Liver-Gallbladder capsules (burdock root, dandelion root, goldenseal root, yellow dock root, beet root, gentian root, milk thistle seed) to tone the liver and assist in production of bile to metabolize fats. For people who do not have a severe kidney problem, Kidney Cleanse Tea (hydrangea root, juniper berries, marshmallow root, uva ursi, dandelion leaf, parsley root) acts as a natural antibacterial, helps to break up stones, cleanses and soothes the kidneys. In addition to providing a wide variety of high quality herbs, Sage Woman offers Valerie's expertise and willingness to give individual consultation, even working with customers' doctors to personalize the most medically appropriate herbs for their needs.
Karen also suggests gentle exercise -- yard work and gardening are ideal -- and deep breathing in a pine forest to clean the lungs. Sweating from exercise and a dry sauna assists the skin's release of toxins. During a cleanse, Karen dry-brushes her skin daily and makes herself a detox bath: moderately hot water filled with 1 pound of Epsom salts and a small box of baking soda proven, she says, to pull even heavy metals from the body. Afterward, wrapping up in a towel and snuggling inside a sleeping bag creates a sauna experience.
Sometimes your old baggage wants to get detoxed, too, so you may wind up crying or experiencing other feelings. If there are nagging issues, you may want to consider therapies like Eye Movement Desensitization Reprogramming (EMDR) and Thought Field Therapy, (services provided by licensed psychologists) to unclog stagnant emotions, she adds.
If you're not up for a cleanse, just take advantage of summer's bountiful fresh produce from roadside stands or your own backyard. Enjoy phytochemically rich spinach, beets, sprouts and carrots or, if you prefer fruit, indulge in high-fiber berries and naturally diuretic watermelon.
Detoxifying body therapies
Cleansing the body for summer doesn't have to be an ascetic experience. Massage can facilitate the body's circulatory and lymphatic flow so that impurities are eliminated in a pleasurable manner.
Licensed Massage Therapist Sherry Janes of Touchstone Natural Therapy treated me to LaStone Therapy, a method that has ruined me for more traditional forms of massage.
After heating black basaltic beach pebbles to a temperature between 125 to 140 degrees, Sherry moved them soothingly and energetically over my body from toes to head, left to right, front and back. (Hot stones melt knots in muscles much more quickly than hands, notes Sherry.) The most interesting sensation was when she inserted tiny hot pebbles between my toes. The penetrating heat gave me an odd mental image: This is what it would feel like if the Sun could lay hands on your body! In addition to the sensation of smooth stone against slick skin, you enjoy the scent of aromatic oils and the sound of ringing or splashing rocks. It was sensual, luxurious and earthy in a way that Helga with a Swedish grip is not.
Sherry also provides a combination of lymphatic massage (light butterfly strokes along lymph pathways) with Synergie, a vacuum massage technology that temporarily reduces the appearance of cellulite by stretching fat cells. The very soft touch of lymphatic massage is ideal for the delicate and apprehensive; Sherry subtly senses the liquid wave of lymph motion below her client's skin with her fingertips. While open lymph pathways moves toxins, Synergie pulls them from the fat cells through a light-suction vacuum hose that is moved over the body suit that modestly covered me (and is provided to each client during a Touchstone treatment). Cellulite is just the presence of toxins in the fat cell, Sherry says. Typically, ten Synergie treatments can result in noticeable elimination of cellulite.
Kim Hoyt at The Wrap Works says that wraps accelerate a loss of toxins and inches while cleansing and tightening the skin. During the nearly two-hour session, elastic bandages soaked in golden water (a secret solution of minerals and distilled water) are applied to the body, which absorbs nutrients and releases wastes. The personal experience was a bit like being diapered from toe to neck (regressive flashback?) as Kim patiently wound the steaming cloths tightly around my bare flesh.
After transforming to a walking burrito, I was wrapped in a yellow slicker and ushered into a room where I was instructed to gently move around while watching the movie of my choice on a VCR. (However appropriate to my attire, The Mummy was not available.) You can also choose to cozy up to the phallic white cylinder in the center of the room called the Excellerator. Its vibrations are intended to help jar fat from deep within muscle. Amazing results can follow three to five visits; at this single one, before and after measurements revealed I had lost 12 inches! A wondrous feat, but, unfortunately, not all were from that single location that rhymes with mass.
Wearing slinky sandals on scaly winter feet is like putting a pretty bonnet on a warthog. Soothing Shannon Cooper at A Total New You Day Salon did not even blanch at the sight of my terrible tootsies. Women do so much for others and their feet are the most neglected part of their bodies, she coos, as she prepares a soaking footbath of sea salts, eucalyptus and tea tree oil from Creative Nail Systems.
After my feet are softened and invigorated, she trims the nails and cuticles. A wonderful scrub of beach sand, quartz and marine alpha-hydroxy prepares them for another bath-rinse. Now sleek and supple, my dogs are slathered with a blue clay mask that includes refreshing menthol crystals. Whoa -- there's more! After another rinse and a wonderful massage with oil, they are dunked in a toasty tub of peach-fragrant paraffin wax. Truly pampered, they submit meekly to a final nail polishing. It's challenging to choose from nearly 70 shades of color, but Shannon suggests festive coral or copper for a fun, shimmery look.
Thoughtful to the last piggy, Shannon offers me free banana yellow flip-flops to wear home so my freshly colored nails are unmarred by the shock of socks. (A Total New You also offers similar Spa Manicures, facials and other salon services.)
Above all, summer is the time to renew one's faith in a universe where any good thing can happen. June 21, the longest day of the year, was celebrated in sweetly wistful ways in ancient times from the conception of divine children to making wishes. Zsuzsanna Budapest, in Grandmother of Time, suggests walking to the nearest stream or brook and floating a flower with your kiss on it into the water to carry your romantic intention to the Cosmic Mother-Father-Lover.
After all, if felicitous summer isn't a divine reminder that life is magic, what is?