The kids are back in school. The tourists are boarding flights home. The otters have the river back to themselves to play along the reeds and rocks of the shoreline. The free-wheeling summer days are transitioning like the color of the leaves to the structured routine of autumn.
I walked outside under the stars of the predawn sky and took three deep breaths of fresh air as is my morning ritual. I stood motionless and listened to the quietude of the lingering night. The fullness of the day sat intact before me, an unwrapped gift waiting for me to open it. I tightened my scarf around my bare arms as I leaned over and squinted to make out the red line of the thermostat at a brisk 50 degrees. It is the first morning in a while with a crispness in the air. A new season is upon us.
My body knows this time like it knows an old friend. It is a familiarity I came to know and rely on as a child when my body rhythms echoed the metronome of the school bell announcing the start and completion of my day. The school year becomes a container with boundaries built to protect my time and focus on getting schoolwork done. For years after college, I noticed how the rhythms of change in my life still patterned after the structures of school. Summer was a time of motion and activity, play and freedom, whereas Autumn was time to apply my learning to new pursuits, root in and reach outward, harvesting my character and my strengths for something bigger and bolder than I was ambitious to pursue.
For many of us, even as we work our way through the sky-blue months of summer, by September, when the fireworks of Labor Day have sputtered out, we return to our responsibilities, remembering the value of what we have been busily building for ourselves. September arrives, not in a rush, but in the nick of time, sliding into home plate to win the inning following a pop-fly foul ball into the bleachers. Like a new morning under the cloak of darkness, September contains the promise of possibility.
With a summer season fueled by creative inspiration and meaningful connection outdoors and on the road, September invites us to stand still and take account of the bounty of our lives. It is by noticing and appreciating the fullness of who you are and how you show up—from the wild, organic flow of summer to the structured, getter-done-focused approach of fall—that will effectively allow you to harvest the good work you do for the greatest possible impact.
September brings the abundance of a new month, a new school year, and a new season. It is time to harvest our good work, our focused effort, and our choices toward our highest vision for our well-lived life.
Here are three ways to root into harvesting the gifts of a new autumn season–
Embrace a new routine. Here’s an oxymoron for you: Structure creates freedom. Huh? I know. Strange. The thing is, without structure we can’t appreciate the freedom we seek to experience. If summer never ends, we would eventually feel oppressed by the unrelenting nature of sun and heat, ad greenery and blue skies, and worst of all, no school for our kids. Instead, with limits to our time and attention, we can focus and learn to maximize our efforts. Take one day for example can consider how you would like to structure it in order to create a greater sense of freedom and ease in your days. When you have completed that, try expanding it to a week. Plan your time to honor your values, that which is most meaningful to you. Consider these guiding questions:
How do you want to feel each morning and evening? How do you need to adjust your schedule to create that effect?
What do you want to add to your days?
Eliminate from your days?
Inquiry: What are you doing when you are in the flow or feel most free? What feels like play to you?
2. Harvest the learning of summer. Inventory your accomplishments, experiences, and learnings for the season ahead.
Inquiry: How will your summer experience inform how you approach planning for your fall?
What did you do that honored your deepest-held values?
What values did you ignore, push to the back burner, or step over for something else more tempting or timely?
How might you re-align in this new season to what feels most self-honoring?
3. Pick a theme. What is one word or phrase you can choose to give to this autumn season that begins with September (on the 22nd) that will quickly and easily reconnect you with the intention you have for these months ahead?
Make a list of words that come to mind to describe what you are yearning for more in your professional and personal life right now.
Explore the question through conversation, art, or writing: What word or phrase captures what I am aiming to create for myself this fall season as I harvest the bounty of my life?
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