Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Sometimes people who say they don't like Autumn simply find discomfort in the cool, crisp air that snaps us in the face as we bundle ourselves against its leafy winds. Or perhaps, on a deeper level, we see in the drying, dropping, dying leaves the season's stark reminder to us....that every living thing has its season, and its expiration. How often we suspend ourselves in a busied state of disregard for our own mortality that Fall, in vivid contrast, seems to celebrate with its bold, rich colors. Autumn forces a hardness across our skins, as we brace for coolness, darkness, dreariness...elements against which our bodies and added layers insulate us. Autumn traditionally also calls to us to consider how well we planted seeds of our choosing, in order to experience a harvest. Gone for most of us 21st centurions are the days when this was a literal experience, and yet still, our minds seem to linger in our history of farming and cultivation in reflection of our work and what sustenance it offers at a time of year when sunlight is scarce to shine on us and sustain us. Metaphorically, Autumn is a time reflections often poke at us: "What did I plant six months ago?" , "Are my efforts then producing the results I desire now?" or simply, "How have I grown and cultivated myself/my life?" The stillness of Autumn makes us pensive, and some of us aren't inclined toward the inner assessment this time of year typically brings. And even less desirable is its foreboding signal of the of imminent holiday obligations to travel, plan, feed, hustle, buy, etc. Retailers craftily amp up any hint of anxiety by bombarding us earlier and earlier each year with "deals" and decorations that are offered under the pretense of celebrations and festivities. So how can we lower our anxieties, raise our festive vibe and include ease, lightness of heart, and simply being present with people we love?
Focus on Generosity (without Monetary Value) Simply to be fully present and giving of one's attention is an incredibly high-value item, for which there is no price tag. How much do you appreciate it when you can see that someone you are spending time with doesn't look at their phone or accept calls? Time is our most precious gift these days.
Set an Intention Before You Go If family gatherings or holiday shopping stress you out, remember, most everyone brings their stress with them too, without even thinking about how it may affect others. The amount of stress we experience is usually more in our control than we think, and a simple way to get ahead of it is to clearly focus on what you want to experience, and what you want to offer in a time frame. Focus for just a minute or two before you enter a situation on a simple idea like "I choose to feel calm" or "I am patient" and breathe in and out slowly while gently repeating that thought in slow repetitions for that minute. When you are there, imagine that you are radiating with your intention.
Look for the Positives This may seem obvious, but human brains are wired to notice the "wrong" things, so it's easier to notice when Aunt Rita is complaining like she always does about the kitchen being too hot for comfort. There are lots of opportunities to notice kindness if we look. Maybe it will be how your niece is helping grandma with her plate, or how your brother at least *didn't* make that smart comment he could have.
Manage Your Own Energy Levels Especially during busy work times or holidays, we often push ourselves hard to get things done before vacations, end of year goals, and the like. Sleep is the #1 most important way we can stay energetic and focused, and it's free! And, exercise and other forms of self-care often get curbed in the chaos, so rather than cut it completely, get in 15 minutes of walking the dog (versus no exercise at all) to make a big difference in how your body and mind feel as you go through your day. Try to get your self-care activities in the early part of your week, well before you feel any overwhelm creeping in and you feel too tired to do self-care by the end.
And about all of this "planting seeds" business...
If this Fall it feels a little like you did not plant all of the seeds you had hoped to plant this year, it's ok to feel a bit disappointed or uncomfortable. But also remember to choose to recognize what joy you experienced over the year. What new wonderful people have you met and are grateful for? Also, aren't seasons really cycles? That means, we get another shot. We get another shot to be more thoughtful about the seeds we want to plant in the coming months, so that next Autumn, we can have the joy of seeing what has blossomed, grown, expanded for us. Choose now to become a better planter of seeds.
We all have this chance to reset ourselves in preparation for another season, another year. We each have a new opportunity to plant, water, add sunlight, fortify the dirt and nurture what we want to grow in our lives as well as offer our community.
No matter what you've planted, may you enjoy and build on your harvest. May your holidays spent with loved ones be the quality you desire, and may your Autumn activities cultivate in you the most loving, calm and contented version of you that you can be amidst any chaos, stress, travel or planning that is in your future.
Carpe Diem during these gorgeous crisp days that are upon us, and Happy Fall!
(And ps, if you want to help someone you love get ahead of the holiday stress, head over to our packages page...)