Did you know that July 12 is National Simplicity Day? I love the idea of simplicity for summertime — so natural, yet not so easy to access.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” go the lyrics to the old jazz tune. Yet these days it’s easy to forget to take it easy, slow down, and savor the simple pleasures of summer.

A good way to start, I’ve found, is to set an intention for simplicity by carving out a little extra time each morning for your cup of Joe.

My personal morning mindfulness practice is so nourishing. I take 5-10 minutes to see, hear, touch the mug, taste, breathe, and notice how I feel. If the weather is temperate, I enjoy doing this outside. If not, I’m always looking out a window.

On a recent cool morning, wrapped in a wool blanket on a lounge chair in our backyard in Idaho, a poem began writing itself in my mind. I put down my mug, picked up my phone, and pecked out these words:

Aspen Trees
by Julie Potiker

When we arrived, the grey trunks were welcoming,
their black eyes and symbols beckoning us to witness
thousands of delicate naked arms swaying in the wind.

Now, a blink in time later, the branches are bedecked
in shimmering green vestments
millions of sequins dancing in the sun.

Above the gentle roar of the river,
birds wearing spangled dresses
are communicating in their precious bird language.

I wish I could discern what type of bird belongs to each trill
but even if I learn to discern
what bird belongs to which sounds
(and I might),
their stories will remain
a secret.

A majestic secret
filling my heart with wonder
and what feels like

Last night I played around on Canva to create a post with Aspen trees in the background, kind of faded, with the words of my poem in white font in the foreground. It was fun noodling around, but I wasn’t successful because the words were too small to read easily. No bother — I posted the poem on Facebook with a short video of the actual Aspens, birds chirping in the background.

I love it here. It is simplicity personified. Driving home from the grocery store I’m awed by the snow-capped mountains. It literally takes my breath away. My next-door neighbor is allowing Highland cattle to graze her fields, along with her rescue horse, Lola. Highland cattle have bangs, and enormous horns.

Every night I always write something about this beautiful place when I answer these two questions in my gratitude journal:

1. What did I enjoy today?
2. What am I grateful for today?

I’m beyond grateful to be here, enjoying nature. It feels like a refuge — simplicity at its best.

Spending time in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings, benefiting both our emotional and physical health. But what if you’re living in a big city, immersed in the hectic pace of urban life? That’s where daily mindfulness activities can you help slow things down and focus on being in the moment, a practice rooted in simplicity. Some ways to do this, no matter where you are, include:

Yesterday I listened to a recording of Rick Hanson’s free Wednesday night meditation and talk as I relaxed in a hammock strung up between two Aspen trees. My body felt supported by the hammock as my heart and mind felt supported by the practice. It made me think of the phrase “cradled in the hammock of my heart” from the poem “My Balm” by Jane O’Shea.

Whether you live surrounded by nature or people, taking the time to savor the moments of life plugs you into simplicity, serenity, and self-care, in the summer and every season.

Please share your thoughts. . .