Snow Season Begins

first snow of the season

Unbelievable. The day before Halloween and we’ve already had a real snowfall. More than three inches in the Boston area! There are still colorful leaves on the trees! I’m not a fan of winter or snow. But there’s no fighting Mother Nature, so all we can do is settle in and accept the change in season.

Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow and we turn the clocks back. Now it will be dark at 5pm. These colder months are the season for turning inward and reflecting, while we stay indoors more as well.

For me, appreciating the change in season is a deliberate practice that I’ve cultivated over the past couple of years. Over a year, I noted what was special about each month. Because each month has its merits. Without winter, we can’t get to spring and summer. Below is part of what I wrote about October.

A cup of hot tea.

Looking out a window at the sky.

The sparks and crackle of an outdoor fire

that warms your hands

and smoke that smells like memories.

The Zodiac Constellations & Virgo Season

The Zodiac Constellation

It’s my birthday eve and I’ve been reading up on all things Virgo. ‘Tis the season! I love that astrology has its roots in science and then goes way beyond.

The American Astronomical Society explains the difference between astronomy and astrology.

Astronomy is a science that studies everything outside of the earth’s atmosphere, such as planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies; and the properties and relationships of those celestial bodies. Astronomers base their studies on research and observation. Astrology, on the other hand, is the belief that the positioning of the stars and planets affect the way events occur on earth.

Just as the phases of the moon heavily influences the tides, to me it’s quite logical that positions of the stars and planets may impact people. With more than half of our body weight consisting of water, it makes sense that the moon could impact our behavior. So why not the other planets too?

The object pictured above is NGC 4388, which is part of the Virgo Cluster, which contains more than 1300 galaxies. The center of this cluster of galaxies is part of the constellation of Virgo. It’s so beautiful!

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains Earth and our solar system. The Virgo Cluster is the closest large cluster of galaxies to us. The lingo can get a little complicated, so here are some quick definitions as I understand them.

Star clusters are groups of stars held together by gravitational pull. A constellation is a name given to a group of stars based on a pattern that appears in the sky. Stars are also the “fundamental building blocks of galaxies.”

So when does astrology kick in?

When the planets, moon and sun pass through the Zodiac constellations. The constellations correlate to our astrological sign, which is also our sun sign. But there is one additional constellation, Ophiuchus, which is not used as a zodiac sign.

What’s interesting is that when we can see our own zodiac constellation in the night sky does not correlate with the timing of our birthday. The Virgo constellation appears in late May, June and July, according to EarthSky.

The sun passes in front of the constellation Virgo each year from about September 16 to October 30. Because Virgo is such a large constellation, the sun stays in front of Virgo for longer than one month.

The dates of the sun’s passage through Virgo may conflict with what you read on the horoscope page, which probably says from about August 23 to September 22. Keep in mind that astrologers are referring to the sign – not the constellation – Virgo. Yes, there is a difference between a constellation and a sign!

A constellation of the zodiac refers to certain section of the starry sky. On the other hand, a sign of the zodiac refers to the seasonal position of the sun, irrespective of what constellation backdrops the sun at a given season.

As I approach my 56th time circling the sun, I remember the past, look forward to the future and feel grateful for my birthday present.

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Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Sleep as Self-Care + Changing Seasons

A tree with bright orange leaves next to a bare tree against blue sky.

Can you believe Daylight Savings Time ended a week ago already? I took advantage of that extra hour to do some fall cleaning and also get some good sleep.  And the more I read about sleep, the more important I realize it is. Rest is our foundation.

The change of seasons is the perfect time to reflect on this. We can’t have the beauty of fall, spring and summer without the rest provided by winter. It makes sense that Halloween and the Day of the Dead are celebrated at this time of year. Nature itself is in that liminal space between life and death and we can’t help but feel that change too.

It’s still fall. But with the start of November and so little sunlight, it feels like we are in the winter season. And after my year of examining the seasons, I’m doing my best to shed resistance and fall into winter gracefully.

Peak fall has the ground carpeted with red, orange and so much gold. They shimmer in the sunlight. The trees and ground look magical and otherworldly. Nature is preparing us for winter with an extra burst of beauty. Brightly colored leaves on tree in the fall.

This time of year provides a cue for rest and turning inward. Many animals are hibernating or at least preparing for it. Since we humans are part of nature as well, we can think about how our lives might adjust with the cold weather.

It’s a time for the comfort of warm blankets, hot drinks and candle light. For me, these colder months are also about coziness. Danish culture calls it hygge, and I am all for it. I can’t fight the weather, so I’ll try and appreciate the best of what it brings.

This winter break is something we can cultivate within ourselves. Each day is like a mini-year, where our sleep is the winter. Resting for the renewal of spring and summer during the busiest parts of our day. The end of the day, before we sleep again, is autumn.

Recent research says that deep sleep may rid the brain of toxins that lead to Alzheimer’s. Sleep disruption and deprivation is bad for our health. Yet, it seems like getting enough sleep is a major problem for many if not most people. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker gives some insight.

“We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: ‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. They’re convinced that they’re abnormal, and why wouldn’t they be? We chastise people for sleeping what are, after all, only sufficient amounts. We think of them as slothful. No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say ‘What a lazy baby!’ We know sleeping is non-negotiable for a baby. But that notion is quickly abandoned [as we grow up]. Humans are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.” In case you’re wondering, the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population and rounded to a whole number, is zero.

Those people, who tell us that they do fine with hardly any sleep. They are lying. To themselves. And to the rest of us. They are risking their health. If they are driving or doing something similar, they may be risking the lives of others as well.

We need sleep. We need rest. We need winter. One of the best ways to take care of ourselves is so basic. This self-care is literally to do nothing. So this season, it’s time to make a change.

A Collection Of Moments: May

A Collection Of Moments, is my attempt to actively notice the changes and beauty within each month. Because what is life, but a series of moments strung together like twinkling lights on a string?

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MAY is …

When you’re in Boston.

Longing.

Why is it raining?

Anticipation.

Why is it so cold?

Forgetting every previous May in Massachusetts.

Will it ever be summer?!?!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Memories of my father’s birthday.

Remembering those who served and passed.

Why is it so hot all of a sudden?!

Eating ice cream outdoors.

Iced lemonade.

Ahhhhhh….

A Collection Of Moments: April

A Collection Of Moments, is my attempt to actively notice the changes and beauty within each month. Because what is life, but a series of moments strung together like twinkling lights on a string?

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APRIL is …

Jokes and fools.

Showers.

Taxes.

Chocolate.

Ritual, history, renewal and belief.

Matzah.

Patriots.

Marathon Monday.

Vacation.

Trees.

Remembering Mother Earth.