Happy Tail Syndrome – AllSwell Creative

Happy Tail Syndrome

Posted by AllSwell Creative on

Hello, friend.

I recently had the pleasure of leading a Savoring Summer-themed mindful writing session for a mixed group here in Sag Harbor, hosted by Erika Halweil at Satori House. Some participants run businesses that peak about the time corn and tomatoes come in, putting in the hours to take full advantage of the upside of the season. Others attendees are more focused on fun, tapping into the gamut of social gatherings and activities for themselves, their friends and their families. 


Either way, it can be kind of a lot. You can get just as burnt out celebrating as you can from the grind. By mid-July people in these parts are panting. 


Happy tail syndrome is a thing. In simple terms, it occurs when dogs wag their tails so vigorously that it causes injuries by striking surfaces. A friend of mine introduced me to the concept in the context of summer on the East Coast. We are comin’ in hot, super-stoked on seasonal fun, wanting to do ALL THE THINGS. Wagging, big time. But easy does it, big fella. Otherwise you might just overdo it and hurt your metaphorical tail in the process. 


Whether you’re engaged in work or play (or a lot of both), the upcoming season has its unique pleasures and stressors. An effective way to slow yourself down - and savor your summer in the process - is to regularly put pen to paper. While I'm no journaling snob, there is a specific pleasure and cadence that comes from moving your hand across the page as you string words together. 


Going slowly as a paradigm has been woefully out of favor in our Amazon Prime age of “more, now” but it has tremendous personal value, including on the page. “For adults, one of the main benefits of writing by hand is that it simply forces us to slow down,” shares Jonathan Lambert in his NPR article, “Why writing by hand beats typing for thinking and learning.” And it helps you remember what you’ve written down better than typing (so you might as well craft that to-do list in cursive). 


Here’s a journaling prompt to try out even for the most time-strapped among us (it can take a single minute if you’re really pressed). I call it “The Net” because you are catching moments that might otherwise dissolve in daily busy-ness. 


Pick one brief, pleasurable occurance from your day, something redolent of summer. It doesn’t have to be particularly noteworthy or “important.” As example, I had a Proustian experience recently when I opened up a package of Band-Aids and the scent transported me back to the skinned knees of childhood kickball games - the sound of the ball as your foot connected with it, and the feeling of rounding asphalt bases at day camp. I’m not suggesting you start huffing Band-Aids but whatever your pleasure, take a quick moment to jot it down. Such as: 


  • Stepping into a cool Subway car after a softball game
  • Seeing the first lightning bugs of the season while walking your dog
  • Nabbing ripe peaches at the greenmarket
  • The smell of the Coppertone sunscreen you borrowed at the beach
  • The kids leaving for sleepaway camp 
  • The kids coming home from sleepaway camp 
  • The engineered-to-be-appealing taste and texture of a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar (which has remarkably little in common with actual fruit)


No need to put the long in longhand, these can be as simple as a sentence fragment (or as lengthy as you please). So whether you’re in worker bee or social butterfly mode, over the course of the season you are accruing sense-memories. I’d wager that you’ll both appreciate and remember your summer better for having taken the time to jot them down. 


Try it out and let me know what you think. And feel free to mix things up and make the prompt your own. Afterall, the point of the AllSwell approach to journaling isn’t to do it right, but to do it like you. 


And while we’re on the topic of slowing things down, I am considering running the Decelerate Series again this summer, kicking off Wednesday, July 16th. But I wanted to gauge whether that timing is appealing for you. If you’re interested, just reply and we’ll put you on the list so you’ll be the first to know. 




In Swellness,




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