Back in August I uncovered an old handmade daily planner that I made 20 years ago. This was a time when the only planners you could get, were cold sterile black leather-bound and filled with square date tiles and lined paper to capture your endless work activities. My little planner also had a few little squares for writing all my “to do’s” but around each border were doodles, inspirational quotes, along with weird and wonderful cut papers I had found in my travels.
This hand stitched xeroxed paper was a mish mash of my desire for control and influence that I was feeling as a young adult trying to get my life organized feeling the pressure to make something out of my days, but it was also my desire to stay tethered to possibility and imagination despite all this. As I flipped through these pages made by this younger version of myself, I realized that she was smarter than she knew and that this internal tension to plan but also stay open is still relevant for me, especially this time of year.
Each fall, the back-to-school vibes kick in and I see the world changing out my window and it prompts me to think about what I want to change as well. So, I begin to plan, and figure out how my ideal days should go, I get organized and prep meals, Marie Kondo my life, make goals and lists, really get a handle on things as the leaves fall and routine settles in after a summer of playing hooky. I love the energy of this time of year (the real new year in many ways) when possibility feels within my reach, as long as I have a plan to get there.
But this optimism comes with a tinge of dread because what I have found is that each fall when I begin drawing boxes and filling pages with lists, that inevitably the energy to wade through all these new changes inevitably fades. Usually by the time the leaves have all dropped and I see the first snowflakes fall I already feel like a failure at achieving my new life. The borders I have made to contain the new me become instead a spotlight on all that I haven’t achieved. But what Rachel circa 2001 knew already was that the structure I give my days is best when it is done so on a backdrop of play, magic, and possibility and I think in many ways that’s what changing with the seasons allows us to do. Seasons don’t change with rigidity but rather with the natural cycles of birth, death, and transformation.
My summer rhythm fails each fall because it needs to, the time for boundless growth must come to a close and so too will my fall rhythm fail with the arrival of winter.
Very few things in life happen 365 days a year, so why would I expect myself to function this way. My intention these days is instead to be with the energy of what is, when I look out the window and see the world changing, I am taking that cue and reflecting on the changes I want to make as well. And when the snow falls and the cold holds me indoors more, my hope is to meet the natural existential vibes of winter and go even deeper inside (knowing that often this isn’t easy.) I will craft my days and shape them in the context of the bigger picture, of what the world is showing me is possible and necessary, rather than simply what I can conceive of in the moment.
What does this fall look like for me? It means that as the days get shorter and yellow leaves fill my window, I am taking this energy of change and getting intentional about what I want to change alongside the seasons. For me that means moving more, drinking less, focusing deeper on projects (both creative and work), taking specific actions around my finances, and attempting to make 2-3 special things happen with the ones I love over the coming weeks.
I will savour this energy and then when things slowly fade, and the cold takes over, my intention is to notice this dimming energy and see what it brings up for me. I intend to then make a safe place for that to be nurtured and create a new plan of sorts, a big loose box that allows me to nurture whatever is stark and calling for my attention in the cold.
A creative invitation for you….
Take a photo or sketch an image of the season around you.
In your journal give it a voice, use the prompt “I am fall…. (or spring if you are down south) and I am here to remind you….”
Let the words come from your image, get curious about what is it trying to tell you?
Fill 1-2 pages allowing it to speak to you then underline 2-3 key words and consider how these words can guide your activities over the coming months.
As always, I am thankful you are here and hope you found a slice of something in here that serves you.