Autumn is here and with it are new patterns of navigating the season. It feels like the beginning of a new year; harkening back to starting school as fall begins.
Fall feels busier, doesn’t it? Like we have to raise our game to keep up, but what if we took what we love about summer with us (outside of the weather)? For me that would be enjoying nature, reading a good book, time with friends and spontaneous daytrips. We lose so much of these leisurely pastimes in fall with the “demands of the season.” All the holidays, one right after another, can leave us feeling like we’re constantly shifting between planning and execution modes. Didn’t summer seem like a lot more fun? More relaxed? I think that’s something worth bringing with us!
What my proposal implies is that “something has to give.” Over the last few years, if anything trifles with my sanity or turns what otherwise would be a special holiday into a “stress fest,” I now either downsize or skip certain traditions in order to enjoy the holiday too. As a woman, I could clearly see that traditionally, the specialness and “success” of the special day largely fell on me, and I took on the yoke of this responsibility with love and inspiration, loving the imprint I could make in terms of creativity and good cheer. In my younger years, I felt like Wonder Woman, decorating the house, baking, sending out cards, hosting dinners, raising my son, all while working 40 hours and commuting 10 hours per week! By the time my birthday rolled around in early January, I was like a used up tube of toothpaste.
I’m not saying that we should stop the festivities and activities, but I do believe it is extremely important to check in with our inner compass to determine what stays, what gets downsized, outsourced or released altogether. If you’re anything like I was, then you have definite ideas of what these holidays and expectations for fall should look like and believe people are counting on you to make it happen. The guilt, stress and self-talk around this cannot be denied. It can feel like preparing for a big school project with the due date fast approaching and the majority of your grade is riding on it. Enough!
Surviving cancer really changed my take on all this. Not only was I taxing my body and my well-being, but I played the part of the “servant” while hardly ever allowing myself to be served and enjoy these special days. It was part of my “worthiness” programming that told me I could guarantee love and acceptance if I brought the party. To be clear, I love to host parties and invite loved ones into my home; that hasn’t changed. It fills up my cup. But now, I no longer make dishes that take days of preparation. And you know what? Nobody noticed! They still enjoyed being in my home and loved getting together. I actually got to sit and have rich conversations with my guests. I even accepted help when offered (that was new too).
We can say no to certain things and yes to sitting in front of a fire reading (even if it’s checking out ideas for an upcoming event). The days of Covid may have changed the number of party invitations we are receiving, but I believe it is still important to be the gatekeeper of our calendar. And if we find ourselves in a spin as we work on something special, we can take a 10-minute breather, whether it’s closing our eyes and breathing deeply, going for a walk around the block or chatting up a friend on the phone. Think about what might help you. We need this!
I invite you to consider what you would love to change in your fall or holiday routines if you could. Make a list and then look it over. Notice where you feel guilt or feel the impulse to override a particular change . It doesn’t have to be a complete cancel of the day but, instead, a new way of doing things that allows you time to enjoy the season too. It’s still making use of your creativity but now invites new traditions and welcomed freedom.
One terrific outcome of this decision to celebrate fall while honoring our own needs, is that we model this behavior for our children, particularly our daughters. How wonderful to know that they will not feel the need to carry the torch of seasonal exhaustion into their adult lives. Great legacy!
Throughout this season, give yourself small spaces of time to just be and you will find that there is more of you to go around without depleting all of your energy. Take good care of your mind, body and spirit no matter the season. Leave harsh judgement at the door and pour on the love when you’re feeling exhausted or uninspired.
Summer is a state of mind which says, “relax, enjoy.” You and I can inhabit this space anytime we decide. Ten minutes of “summer mode” can make all the difference. We need more summer in our fall, and only we can bring it via our mindset and thoughtful choices that have our well-being in mind. The weather is chillier, but the real gifts of summer can continue to be enjoyed. Happy Fall!