Fall is here!
Fall has always been my favorite time of year.
When I was a girl, I remember breaking out my plaid wool skirts with glee. As a young mother I discovered the joys of a baby who loved all things pumpkin, and cooler weather that let me bake all the time and indulge both of my sons with treats. Okay, I loved them too: spice cakes, pumpkin pie, and mulled apple cider. Yum. In my work as an adult educator, fall meant students who came in with an energized back-to-school spirit and who were ready to take on challenges with enthusiasm, perhaps because winter holidays were on the horizon as a reward.
Comfortable, cool weather walks, and swirling get-going energy in my work and home life. Fall. What's not to love? And then 2020 happened.
Today, the Autumnal Equinox, signals the descent into our time of seasonal darkness. [Here in the Northern Hemisphere] And yet, in many ways we have already been in darkness for months. Political and social upheaval is now so commonplace that many of us are numb to it. We've got outrage fatigue. The world continues to struggle with a once in 100 years pandemic, and these struggles have revealed even more cracks in our educational systems, economic structures, and society at large. The days are going to get colder and darker in more than the literal sense before we are done with this year, and no amount of pumpkin spice flavored treats are going to be able to erase that reality. So, now what?
Like the classic introvert I am, 2020 has caused me to fold inward. Admonitions to limit public activities were the perfect excuse to stay inside my home and inside my head. I'm working on changing this. As you go into fall, the season of harvests, of gratitude, of learning, and of preparation for winter, what will you do differently? With all the traditional rituals and gatherings thrown into chaos, how will you end your year? Here are some fall themed ideas to help you prepare for the end of 2020 and whatever challenges come next.
Do a gratitude exercise or craft -- Thanksgiving is coming (October in Canada/November in the US) and you might not be having a big gathering this year. Spend some time actively contemplating what you're thankful for, maybe even creating something tangible to represent gratitude. Branch out beyond the traditional journaling exercise and get crafty. How about a wall hanging or centerpiece filled with items that represent specific blessings in your life instead of just the typical autumn leaves and colorful gourds?
Make a contemplation space -- By now you may be sick of being stuck at home. With winter right around the corner, now is the time to create a new/freshened space for you to think, plan, and dream during long winter nights. Rearrange your reading nook, or add some new decoration to your meditation space. Place a pile of art supplies in your office. If you don't have any...get some plants.
Invest in outdoor gear -- If you don't have a raincoat, rain boots, cold weather clothes, safe shoes for walking in bad weather, start rounding up these things now. A friend from Norway once told me, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes." Even a few minutes of time outdoors changes your health and outlook for the better. Prepare now so you don't feel trapped this winter.
Up your communication game -- Without our normal access to each other and our normal routines, many of us have struggled in 2020 with feeling disconnected. This is an especially tough time for those who are extroverted and who live for in-person communication. If you've been using Zoom for work, you may have the dreaded "Zoom fatigue." If you value connection with others, if relationships matter, then you are going to need to work at staying connected. Send emails. Make phone calls. Mail letters and cards. And yes, use video conferences. Find what works for you and those around you.
I know we're all hoping for a better 2021 -- but there's still a bit left of this challenging year, so let's support each other as we regroup for the last quarter 2020. My virtual door is always open.
All the best,