Change of seasons sucks. I mean, OK, I admit that I love living where we get a change of seasons. I think it would be odd in some way, and certainly a major adjustment for me given I have lived this entire life in the Mid-West, to live somewhere that the weather is the same-ish year round. But, appreciating having different seasons isn’t the same as enjoying the actual change of said seasons.
I love summer. It is my favorite season, hands down, my entire life. I don’t mind the heat. I don’t mind anything in the summer. I can hardly think about the “w” season without a panic attack. Spring is easy enough – surviving the “w” season and having summer on its way. I can do that.
Autumn though, it’s a tricky one for me. I struggle with knowing what is coming next and all of the fear and panic that comes along with knowing in my core that “w” is again coming. I struggle with letting go of my summer. I struggle.
Not unlike other events or issues in my life – writing about it, mindfulness, and gratitude are of the utmost help in dealing with the change of seasons in general, and in particular dealing with the two trickier ones for me.
I have been gently reminding myself (and sometimes those around me) since mid-August to appreciate every moment of summer. The surprise factor is what can fuck me up the most. It is difficult for me to now imagine that there were many years in my life that I was so busy and so not paying attention to things beyond whatever job/relationship/crisis that I was in at the time – that I didn’t notice the change of season happening until it was all up on us. Paying attention and mindfully noticing the subtle changes on a day to day basis makes the change of season oh so much easier to accept. Walking outside into frigid air and seeing your breathe, still wearing shorts and not expecting it – not fun. Paying attention to the weather and what is happening to the earth around me – much easier to take. It, the change of seasons, really does happen gradually. It just seems to come on fast when not paying attention.
Hence, I am mindful of it all happening. Every day at some point, I stopped to appreciate yet another summer day or night. Every day I expressed gratitude and love for summer. Not unlike having the opportunity to gradually accept the death of a loved one from a long-term illness (versus a tragic accident or something crazy that takes someone out immediately), being present, mindful, and grateful of a summer day helps me in eventually letting go of it as it passes.
It is technically official now, the summer of 2010 is done. The recent autumnal equinox is indeed my marker of acceptance into autumn.
It is time now to accept autumn, figure out how to appreciate as much as possible of it, and somehow gently allow the idea of the next season to begin to be known. There have already been moments of jarring reminders. Sitting around a fire pit this past weekend, someone talked about how much they loved autumn. Someone else mentioned the “w” season immediately and was even bold enough to through in the four-letter word (in my world) “snow”. I was not the only one that was a bit shocked at the mention of the white stuff.
My mindfulness that autumn was coming has helped me maintain sanity and keep the moments of panic in their place.
And here it is… and it is time to truly accept and embrace this season. When I think about the things I really dislike about autumn, I acknowledge them and move on. I shift my focus onto what I do indeed appreciate. I don’t want to sound all Pollyanna here. I don’t feel like I can explain this without sounding that way though. I just shift my focus.
Last night, a friend and her two dogs joined me and Sofia Lolita on our walk. I don’t remember what she said exactly, but it had the tone of annoyance at the very least about the season change. It had something to do with feeling sad that summer was over. I told her that summer is my favorite season and that I was bummed too but that my survival technique was to focus on what I like about autumn. I started mentioning things I appreciate…
I like wearing ‘cords’ for instance, and sweatshirts are fun. I do love watching the leaves change color. The bugs are all going away and are much less annoying. My friend added some of the things she appreciates about autumn as well. We could have continued on our walk, swearing and complaining about losing summer. Instead, we both moved in to acceptance and gratitude. Seriously, a much better head space. It was a lovely walk.
So, here I sit, noticing the leaves outside of my window, some still green and fully alive. The rest turning shades of orange, yellow, and red. I can feel the heat coming through my window from the mid-day sunshine today, and yet, need to wear a sweatshirt inside of my house. I picked out my favorite one for today. And, I do appreciate that I can walk my little dog in the afternoon without worrying about her being too hot.
I probably should have started this, or at least mentioned it earlier somewhere, but one of the things I like to do is call this season autumn, instead of fall. I have far too many sad memories of previous falls in my life. Changing what I call it on a regular basis has also made this season more appealing. Something about autumn seems fancy or serious or something.
Here’s to a safe, productive, and joyful autumn…