Last weekend, I made a rookie mistake of going to HomeGoods on the trifecta of the worst days to go to HomeGoods: the Sunday before school started and September began. As I rode the escalator down the narrow hallway while Michelle Branch softly echoed through the speakers, I was smacked in the face by a combination of assorted pumpkin spice -esque scents and children squealing at delight over Paw Patrol and Peppa The Pig backpacks. As I entered the too-long line with my cart filled with storage boxes, new towels, and various assortments of off-brand kettle corn (have you SEEN THE KETTLE CORN SELECTION), I overheard a mother and son talking in line. I just don’t want summer to be over, he moaned. “I know, sweetie. But school’s going to be so much fun!” his mom reassured him.
Then, picking up a ceramic cornucopia, she said, The sooner school begins, the closer we are to the holidays! Isn’t that great?
There it was: the full-speed-ahead into the end of the year.
Unlike most kids, I always looked forward to the first day of school. I might have had a mini panic attack before starting my senior year of high school (first and lasts always get me), but even those years when I switched schools and had to find all new friends, all that ever bubbled up was excitement and enthusiasm.
Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe it was just my personality. But there was something about backpack shopping, picking out my outfits, and pouring over the introductory paperwork all the students at my schools were sent pre- Day One that made my heart so very happy.
The impending challenges of a new grade – or in some cases, a new school altogether – never really entered my head. Back To School season was the BEST season of the year.
I’ve always loved transitions.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long it’s been since you held a No. 2 pencil in your hand: for most former-kids, September will forever be synonymous with “Back To School.” The seasonal shift from Summer to Pre-Autumn to full-on-FALL signals that something new’s afoot – new friends, new challenges, new tests, and new teachers. We prepare for a new start, hope for positive change, and cross our fingers that we’ll be able to handle what life dishes out in the coming months.
Without Summer vacations and required reading, though, it can be hard as an adult to draw the line between where Summer ends and Fall begins. Because although we’d love to have an endless summer…and although the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 23rd…we can all feel a shift happen the moment Labor Day weekend comes to a close. It’s “back to the grind” – even though most of us have been grinding all year long.
And so it can just seem like more of the same – like we lost track of time, and the Summer months so associated with taking a breather completely passed us by. Couple this with a built-in programming from childhood to register this time of year as transitional, and it’s easy to feel a little bummed out once September hits.
While January usually gets all the attention when it comes to resolutions, I’d like to argue that September holds just as much promise as the 01/01 mark.
Pre-Autumn (and then into Fall) is the perfect time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. It’s a time to bring back that childlike enthusiasm, relentless joy, and maybe even those first-day jitters you had as a kid (because all worthwhile and exciting changes in life bring up first-day jitters, really).
It’s called “Fall” for a reason: just like the leaves fall away from their branches so the tree can begin its process of renewal, we too should let our old energy-suckers fall off our backs to make way for this new season of growth.
This month – and this Fall in general – I encourage you to look at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what your heart truly desires in this moment. Maybe you’ve been skimping on self care. Getting a 15 minute sweat in before work is just what you need. Maybe you’ve been so wrapped up in work that your social life isn’t what you’d like it to be. Call a friend you haven’t checked in on in a while. Evaluate what you’ve accomplished this year so far, and how you want to feel by the time the clock strikes midnight on January 1st of next year.
Each transitional moment – whether a season or a reason – I like to take a beat and get intentional about what I want to notice in this particular transition. Doesn’t matter if I write them down and completely forget about them two days later. Simply the act of identifying questions I want to ask or thinks I want to think about introduces them into my subconsciousness.
Some thinks I’ll be thinking and questions I’ll be asking myself – feel free to steal them for your own musings:
- Role models who are living their legacy. Who can I look up to who is doing the REAL work, not just what is trendy, popular, or the easy way out?
- More yesses and nos, less maybes. How can I tap into my intuition right away, and use it to help me make concrete decisions? And if there’s a “maybe” that enters the mix – can I set a time limit for it?
- Creating, staying in, and fully owning my own lane. This is MY life, no one else’s. What am I doing to honor it? What about it is unique? How can I make sure it stays unique? And, if I get distracted by what others are doing, how can I redirect my focus?
- Time management. What things are the most important to do each day…and what things are just “routine addiction”? (ex: if I have a podcast interview at 9AM but wake up at 7:30AM, is it more important for me to fit in a workout like I do almost every morning, or take the time to get centered and prepare for a successful conversation?)
- Family. DNA and chosen. How am I nurturing both, especially those members that live across the country from me?
The holiday decorations are already springing up (I see you and your Thanksgiving napkins, HomeGoods.) and it’s easy to feed into the mindset of “there’s so little time left!!” But we’ve got four whole months. A THIRD of the year left. Think back to January through April – you did so much during that same time period earlier this year. Less if you take February’s weird dates into account. You have so much time left. It’s all about what you do with it.
There will be challenges in the coming months, of course, and the newness of Fall and Winter will bring all kinds of highs and lows we could never have predicted. But if we shift our perspective to refocus our minds, refresh our hearts, and renew our commitments, there’s no telling what kind of miracles the rest of this year has in store.
Pick out your outfit, grab your backpack, and let’s get on this bus together.
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