10 ways to Cultivate more Joy in the Chaos of Summer

Summer is the season with the most light in the day. There is also a feeling of lightness everywhere. It is easier to be lighthearted and without the usual burden of day to day life. 

In an ideal summer we feel heart expanding love and overflowing joy. This is the season where it is easiest to tap into our hearts. Think of how you felt during summers as a kid; free, wild, warm. As adults Summer is the busiest season for weddings - the most public proclamation of love. From childhood into adulthood, Summer is how we connect our hearts with the world and the ones we love.

This season is a time to be social, attend parties, host parties. Basically, it is time to do all-the-things. While this faster pace is a natural match to the Summer season, we can easily become overloaded. When we get overloaded there is a long list of symptoms that can pop up. Most commonly things like, anxiety, insomnia, restless sleep. Or even feeling scattered and overwhelmed. 

With the long lists of fun things and opportunity for heart expanding joy, how do we do all-the-things without falling into the stress of chaos?

I'd like to give you an invitation to cultivate joy instead of chaos this summer. Here's how.

unsplash brooklyn morgan


Say yes to the things that are heartwarming and heart expanding. Also known as a Hell Yes or the things you fully know you want to do. 

2. Keep your boundaries

Saying Yes is amazing and can open you up to a world of opportunity. Don't forget to say NO when you're not up for it, the situation doesn't serve you. 

3. Give yourself down time.

The point of vacations are to reset and relax. Whether you are near or far from home, try not to overload your schedule with to-dos and social activities. And if you over-do it, schedule some recovery time. 

4. Lighten up & Indulge!

Seriously, indulging can be a vice or a strength. It's important to loosen up a bit. Are you on a strict diet or always going to bed on time? Well, time to shake it up and indulge in that thing you really really want! Or if you are in in the midst of chaos and crave normal sleep schedule... INDULGE yourself and go to bed.

5. Sleep less

No need to be sleepless, but it's the perfect time of year to sleep less. Take naps if you need. With the longer hours of light, our bodies biochemically are available to less physical rest (if you are super burnt out this doesn't work this way, but for most people this works wonders)

6. Time IN

Spend time IN CONNECTION with the people you love. Phone calls instead of texts. Walks and talks. Linger over dinner with your family and friends. 

7. Put down the screens

Tv, movies, social screen time used to be an indulgence. Now they are the common way that most of us spend our days. Summer is tactile, time to be outside, be looking into people's eyes and noticing the beautiful world around you. 

8. Move, move, move your body.

It's a great time to train for a big event or push yourself physically

9. Absorb natural Vitamin D

Aka - go out in the sun, during peak hours, for 20 min with as little covering as possible. This is especially good for people who have symptoms during the Winter.Good self-care in the Summer is a wonderful antidote to the winter blues. 

chang duong heart summer healing

10. Take good care of your heart

Many of us have had a broken heart at some point in our lives. Due to a relationship, death of a loved one, precious animal or all the injustices we see in our world all the time. The Summer gives us an opportunity to tap into our hearts and repair some of the broken-heartedness we have experienced in our lifetime. 


We hope that this list helps you cultivate a bit more joy in your Summer season. Remember it's an opportunity, to play, laugh, expand, grow and always... heal. 

Excite! Well in the West's Summer event has been postponed to 2019 or beyond. Stay tuned for some other great events by following on instagram

Healing Hurts - Charlottesville

Wounds don’t heal the way you want them to, they heal the way they need to. It takes time for wounds to fade into scars. It takes time for the process of healing to take place. Give yourself that time. Give yourself that grace. Be gentle with your wounds. Be gentle with your heart. YOU DESERVE THAT.
— Dele Olanubi

The tragedy in Charlottesville is a sharp reminder that there are so many hard edges, so much hate, so much scarcity, so much fear, so much division in our America. It has been a struggle to for me to find the right words and to take the right action. I spent time this week posting and reposting the work of many incredible people I follow who have been advocating for a world without white supremacy that unites to take action against hate.

As a healer, in my struggle to find words I have done what I know how to do, examining America as a living, breathing, heart beating body. Upon examination, I see our political system as broken limbs and our leader as a head completely detached from any symptoms of pain. I see America's heart as broken, like two charms separated into two pieces with a zig zag down the middle. Our continuous struggle to mend the broken heart charms but separation, scarcity, fear, otherness getting in the way. 

I have been thinking about healing the body, the thing I know how to do for myself, the thing I know how to help others do. If America were my patient what would I do?

Charlottesville is a gaping wound. The wound is deep, gushing, threatening the lifespan America's body. It is raw, exposed and bleeding out. We need help to save us. 

I have been struggling to find the right words. How to fight, how to heal, how to stay soft but firm. How do we heal this wound in time? What if time runs out? What if the pulse stops, there is no more breath in our country? How do we move forward in the midst of hate of close minded white supremacists, when our country was founded by people who had the same oppressive values? 

America has changed, healed and evolved since it was founded. But these old wounds are re-surfacing and coming to a head. It's painful, it's frightening and it needs to come out so that we keep talking about it. I know what I would say if America was my patient. I would say "better out than in." This does not mean that I support acts of violence or that I am rooting for my patient to experience pain. It means that when things lie dormant, under the surface they can be more dangerous, more powerful than when they are exposed and visible. As a practitioner when I see things come to the surface and show as symptoms, they are finally treatable. 

Let us keep hope as these terrifying and horrible actions surface that we continue conversations that need to happen. Let us see the symptoms and TAKE ACTION to treat what is happening. 

Resources are listed below. Please please please take the time to check them out. 


Want to be a white ally but need help? Join & support Safety Pin Box

BUSTLE - How to Help Victims of Charlottesville RIGHT NOW

Tema Okun on how to end White Supremacy Culture in Organizations

"This is a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture that show up in our organizations. Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify. The characteristics listed below are damaging because they are used as norms and standards without being proactively named or chosen by the group. They are damaging because they promote white supremacy thinking. Because we all live in a white supremacy culture, these characteristics show up in the attitudes and behaviors of all of us – people of color and white people. Therefore, these attitudes and behaviors can show up in any group or organization, whether it is white-led or predominantly white or people of color-led or predominantly people of color."

Put your money towards businesses owned by POC, Women, LGBTQ and other minority groups. Our country runs on money and money deeply expresses our values. Not only spending your money but also following these people and reading their posts are an incredible way to support the America you want to live in. 

On Being Sick & A Holistic Perfectionist

I hate being sick.

It's hard for me to rest and sleep when my body is telling me to slow down. Every time some new symptoms show up in my body I try to diagnose myself. My acupuncturist - herbalist- practitioner brain tries desperately to figure out what the quickest (holistic) fix is.

Even after 7 years of being in Chinese Medicine, I still struggle in my own body that sometimes it doesn't work perfectly.

While I struggle with this holistic perfectionism, ultimately being sick has taught me how to be a better practitioner. I was a pretty healthy kid, but I got really sick when I was 14. After the fall semester of vigorous training for the crew team, I got strep throat over winter break. I remember the moment I felt it. It was the day after Christmas and I was sitting on the floor of the waiting room at Emergency. My cousins, aunts, uncles and parents were all there.  My grandmother, who we were visiting, had had a little stroke and was in the hospital. I was exhausted, my body hurt all over and it hurt to swallow. I got antibiotics, "recovered" and went back to school and life. Then I got the flu. I can't remember if I got better, but I know I got a second round of strep throat. (I now know that when there are consecutive rounds of strep throat it is usually the same bacteria that never goes away and is waiting for the correct circumstance to come back - if this is happening to you, let's talk and we can put you on herbs and probiotics to get your body back)

The result of being consecutively sick for two months at the age of 14 was that I was tired all the time. My stomach hurt constantly and random symptoms would pop up, achy-ness, headaches...you name it. 

I didn't have energy to keep on keepin' on. I also began to have allergies for the first time in my life and that summer. When I was outside enjoying the heat of summer nights getting bit by mosquitos the bites turned into hard swollen knots the size of tennis balls, my immunity was shot.

I switched from full time at High School to part time home teaching and part time going to school. I was embarrassed about not being able to be a "normal" teenager, and even my best friends couldn't totally understand why I was constantly missing class and not around like everyone else.

Being sick really changed my life. All of a sudden, at the age of 14, I had to treat my body with special care.

I was a teenager, moderation was the last thing I was interested in. I spent high school not doing sports, doing way less activity than my peers and just trying to be "normal". I got better, I was able to do school and weekend fun. But I wasn't doing all the after school stuff of sports or clubs or other stuff, I didn't have capacity. 

New york city

I left my life behind when I went to college in New York. I had recovered enough and had a pretty successfully healthy college experience. But depletion began to rear its ugly head in my senior year. I started having blackouts. (not the drinking kind). I went to a couple MD's who didn't have much to say or do about it. I was left terrified and confused. This began my journey with acupuncture.

As a child, I was deeply afraid of needles. I would turn green when I would get my blood drawn and feel faint when getting shots. Feeling stranded by western medicine and wanting an answer to why i was having blackouts, my acupuncturist was such a ray of light. She asked me about my period, what the quality of blood was, what color it was, if I got cramps. She asked me about my digestion and appetite. When she needled me I could feel sensation up and down the channels. 

Finding a diagnosis - even in Chinese medicine felt reassuring and like I wasn't simply crazy. This was the beginning of my dive into Chinese Medicine and becoming an acupuncturist.

My health history is complex and confusing and sub-medical. I have never been able to find help or answers from MDs. Even when I have visible symptoms on my body, my vital signs, blood levels and every test come back completely within the normal range.

This experience has given me a keen eye. As a practitioner I see through lots of layers and information and stay curious about what the root of an issue could be. Experiencing lackluster doctors has given me the motivation to truly seek help for my patients so they continue to improve.

With all the health issues I have dealt with I have learned a lot. And sometimes, I still get sick, or have weird symptoms. What I have found that no matter how healthy I get, there can always be something that happens to my body.

It does not make me a failure to be a human who gets sick, doesn't feel well, and doesn't always know how to fix herself. 

Whenever I get healthier I tend to push my body in different ways. Sometimes this causes new symptoms. My self-care practice is better than it ever has been. My overall health is the best it has been in 15 years. And I continue to work on the fact that I am a human and finding holistic solutions to immediately fix myself does not make me a better person. 

If you have been a holistic perfectionist - come join me in this journey. Being hard on ourselves does not help us to heal.


I am letting go.

I am forgiving myself.

I am making space to be a human. 

Going Golden

There are many things that remain a mystery to me and maybe always will. But there is one thing I am sure, that is that life is full of injuries and recoveries.

There will be the injuries to your body at certain times of your life. During those times you may wake day after day, not physically being able to lift your tired & sore muscles from bed.

There are the injuries to your heart that cause waterfalls to continuously flow from your eyes until there is not water left.

There are the injuries to your soul, that can knock you down for more than just minutes, days or weeks. These are the ones that it can take a lifetime to even realize that you got injured. It was so gradual and your life has been so hazy you didn't even notice. 

In these ways life is nothing but a series of trauma that we have to continue picking ourselves up out of bed and continuing on.

But the recoveries and the light that come from these dark and painful moments are brighter than anything we have ever imagined.

Sometimes they may not feel bright because they take time, to climb, inch by inch up a steep hill. We may feel as if we are dying on the way up, and so winded by the time we reach the top it's hard to enjoy that empowering view. 

The most important part of this is to recall even with our individual and very personal traumas, we are not alone. We suffer in community, we got hurt along the way with the rest of the bunch. And in this respect we are all suffering side by side, day by day. This suffering often feels lonely, isolating and sometimes like failure. However, there is nothing more human than pain and heartbreak.

This leads us to the undeniable opportunity to heal together. We can heal together in ways we had no idea we needed healing. We can pick ourselves back up and glue the pieces back together in ways that are more deeply rejuvenating and we didn't even realize there were pieces that we left behind.

We can heal together in ways we had no idea we needed healing.

In Japanese ceramics there is a form of repair called Kintsugi which translates roughly to 'gold joinery'. This process uses metallic fill to repair the cracks in the clay which have happened over time. The poetry of this process amazes me - to acknowledge there are cracks and not discard a piece but highlight it with gold. What else is there to say?

As an acupuncturist, I sit every day in front of people who tell me what their pains are. From back pain to heartbreak I hear how people endure, yet they often feel like they are breaking apart. Acupuncture is my art, it is my way to pour gold into their cracks. I often acknowledge that there is room for all of that. There is room for the broken, we are not only our strong side. Our darkness is a teacher, a companion and it is a way for us to know when things are light. Isn't there such deep relief to hear that you are no failure, you are merely a breathing, feeling, human?

There is room for the broken, we are not only our strong side. 

I hope so. I hope that you know your darkness has brought you to a lightness that will create so much beauty and life for the world. If you are in your darkness, I hope that you know you are in a different darkness than the one before and you have only time until the gold fills up the cracks.