It’s the longest day of the year up here in the Northern hemisphere. I have always loved the long days in Ireland, with the sun still offering light as late as 11:30 pm. It was a bit tricky getting young children to bed some years ago, but now summer is a couple of cherished months of basking in lovely, light evenings.

What does “light” mean? The absence of darkness; a speed (about 300,000 km / second); electromagnetic radiation perceivable by the human eye; the opposite of heavy; a good mood.

What makes me feel light? Eating lightly – fresh food, not too much. Walking outdoors, not too fast nor too slow; a wander. Reading an uplifting book; stories about overcoming. A smile beaming at me; laughing with a friend. Having time off; having space to do nothing; or doing something new, a light challenge like learning a few guitar chords or painting a picture just for the fun of it. In the darkest of winter, the security of a hot drink by a warm fire does it.

I’m not alone, judging by the poem, below, by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Creativity, socialising, being outdoors, slowing down. Those seems to be the themes for me. What about you? What makes you feel light? Can you do any of it on this Solstice day, to mark it? If nothing else, close your eyes and take 3 slow breaths. It’s amazing how that can lighten the mood, the day, the weight.

Wishing you a light-filled solstice,

Pam

In Summer Time

When summer time has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow’rs aflush,—then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and pathways part,—
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,—
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night—
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite—
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds’ song and the water’s drone,
The humming bee’s low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
‘Tis wealth enough of joy for me
In summer time to simply be.

Ballin Temple is a magical spot nestled in the valley near the River Slaney. Since we moved here 23 years ago we’ve managed the place and grown vegetables without chemical sprays; we were officially organic for a few years. Very soon, we’re offering

  • FREE introduction to Grow Your Own on Feb 25 (online) – Tom will take you through what the course is about.
  • Grow Your Own, a course (in person in our garden, and online) that runs monthly from March 25 – Sept 30 to get into growing your own food. The monthly format allows you to keep at it and ask questions to personalise your food growing experience.
  • Summer yoga classes – dates will be announced after Easter. Can’t wait! Not on the yoga mailing list? Scroll to the bottom of the page and join my lovely yoga community.

We’re also selling a thoroughbred (no time!), square-bale hay, and have just gone live on the Wwoofer website. For details on all of that, check out the full Ballin Temple newsletter here.

Be a Nature Sanctuary Supporter

Years ago we had to stop salmon fishing as the population on the Slaney was in peril. Now we manage the river bank much less intensively but walkers love coming to enjoy nature. There are still costs involved in path clearing and other maintenance, so if you’d like to lend support, it is greatly appreciated.

INTENTIONS

This powerful practice is a way to find clarity by writing things down. Intentions, unlike goals, do not specify how you will get there, but they give you a direction and priority.

The year can seem to drag or fly by, and taking charge of your time at the start of the calendar year can be a refreshing way to step into new things, or to simply refine your existing way of living.

Before setting intentions for the coming year, let go of the past year. Sit or lie still for a few minutes and thinking through your highlights and lowlights, acknowledging successes and failures equally, and letting any unwanted energy from those moments go with a good exhale. Once that’s done, focus on your heart for a few breaths, feeling the softness of it. Allowing this vital organ to “soften” brings the nervous system into a calmer state.

Now, you’re ready to write a few things down.

Intentions are based on your values, so they allow you to envisage you in your full potential, without expectation of perfection. There’s wiggle room; it’s a mindful direction rather than a stressful challenge or goal.

Values can be about connections to the outside – family, good relationships, community; or personal characteristics and practices like patience, kindness, acceptance, discipline, gratitude; or life priorities like health, happiness, learning, leading, abundance.

Setting your 2022 Intentions

When I first did this exercise, I was struck by how it cleared the dross from my cluttered to-do list and laid the foundations for a productive and focused year. What is your WORD for 2022? Your Word is the overall value for this year. Take your time – it can be tough to decide, or it can leap out at you. Check the appendix for a list of possible words. If you’re overwhelmed, start with a list of 10 words. Whittle down to 5. Choose the one that resonates with you most strongly.

GOALS

Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based. That way, you can be clear about what’s next, align it with your overall intention, and give have a mini-celebratoin every time you complete a step. Have fun!

 

What are your PERSONAL goals for 2022?

This may be to do with a personal habit (to create or to break) – read a book a month, watch 1 hour less of TV per day, etc.

What is the FIRST STEP (a very small easy step) that you can take?

When will you take it?

Action

Tick here when you have taken it: ­___

Write your next (small) step here: __________________________________________

 

What are your HEALTH or FITNESS goals for 2022?

Would you like to have more energy? Complete a 5 km run? Try one new vegetarian recipe a month?

What is the FIRST STEP (a very small easy step) that you can take?

When will you take it?

Action

Tick here when you have taken it: ­___

Write your next (small) step here: __________________________________________

 

What are your SPIRITUAL goals for 2022?

This may be about you and your self-awareness, or it may be about how you interact with the world. ~Taking a breath when you need a moment; being grateful for something each day; these are examples.

What is the FIRST STEP (a very small easy step) that you can take?

When will you take it?

Action

Tick here when you have taken it: ­___

Write your next (small) step here: __________________________________________

 

What are your ___________________ (family, professional, etc) goals for 2022?

What is the FIRST STEP (a very small easy step) that you can take?

When will you take it?

Action

Tick here when you have taken it: ­___

Write your next (small) step here: __________________________________________

 

Roll this process over as many times as you need, to see your goal through. Remember: Intention guides, Goals give a fixed aim, small (achievable, measurable|, time-based) steps make it happen. Happy new year!