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“The French have a special word for it, La Rentrée; in English it is simply referred to as ‘Back to school’. However we choose to call the September post-vacation return, and no matter how far our schooldays are behind us, few would deny that this really is the moment in the year that shouts ‘new beginnings’, ushering in a renewed sense of resolve and purpose that has far more potency than any January resolution. As grown-ups, the brand new pencil case and shiny new pair of school shoes that signal a fresh start are replaced by the new-season updates that we hope will deliver so much more than just the latest look: the confidence-boosting coat, that uplifting new shade of lipstick . . . But it really is the change of attitude that matters most, the yearning to be smarter, more balanced – in short, the eternal quest to finally get life ‘right’.” – Lucy Yeomans, editor-in-chief Porter magazine
The attitude we approach anything with undeniably plays a role in how successful the endeavor we are embarking on will play out, and while here in the states businesses don’t shut down entirely for the month of August or July as well sometimes as they do in France, when Labor Day travel winds down, there is a shift in everyday routines, expectations at work and at school, and a mental shift is expected to occur.
The French expression “À la rentrée” is loosely translated to “See you in the fall!” (literally translated to “at the return”), but it is understood September is the date at which all will return – from their extended vacations, from their respite from school, from everyday expectations and regular activity that occurs the other 10 or 11 months out of the year.
Studies have shown, repeatedly that taking the time to literally get away from work, putting down the technology and truly being on vacation can have highly beneficial effects on the brain. When we allow our brains to rest and think freely – problems magically seem to have solutions, creative ideas spring up like daffodils in early spring and we are renewed and reenergized.
So no wonder the French celebrate the return from their vacations. September and thereafter offers an opportunity to put our best self forward, to, as the quote above states, ‘finally get it right’. And while nothing will ever be perfect, improving and fine-tuning will always continue to bring different results than if we did the same thing over and over again.
So today, much like I did two years ago, I’ve made a list of 12 ways we can all welcome the beginning of fall (or spring for my southern hemisphere readers!) with optimism, hope and the best possible path to0 live a more balanced and enjoyable everyday life.
1. Create a bedtime ritual
The amount of sleep we receive each night is a strong determiner in the day we will have, so be cognizant to the small details that you have control over. You might be surprised of the significant benefits you will reap each evening when you turn in. A few things to try: remove the television and all technology (especially your phone), light a soothing scented candle (lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, or sandalwood) – this is my favorite as it has a fantastic scent and lasts for 60 hours, write in a gratitude journal to end your day on a positive note, meditate (find out how & why here), or read a book.
2. Revamp your schedule
Reflect on the past year. What worked? What caused extensive stress? What left you filling fulfilled? What left you drained and in a bad mood? Now be honest with yourself, how you can you better navigate or let go of responsibilities, activities that caused strain on your schedule? Are they priorities or are you picking battles that aren’t worth your time?
3. Purchase at least 1-2 new items for your fall wardrobe
Even if you aren’t someone who eagerly waits for the September issues to arrive, investigate how to add a bit of polish to your fall capsule wardrobe. Shop this season’s TSLL Fall Shopping Guide for ideas, peruse the updated TSLL Shop, look through your closet and check the quality of your favorite items – do you need to update or should you purchase a similar item? Shopping isn’t fun when it is a have-to or drains the budget, but there is just something about finding that perfect item and putting it on for the first time knowing it looks smashing on your physique. Bring this energy into the fall season to brighten your morning in more ways than you might expect.
4. Create a food shopping plan
Everyone’s approach to shopping for the food you will need to eat each week will be different, but being proactive will help you eat better, avoid grabbing something you shouldn’t when you’re starving after a late-night or long day and increase the quality of your overall health and mood. Here’s an idea – find a day during the week in which your schedule is rather free (for me that would be Sunday), carve out 1-2 hours to sit down with your cookbooks and favorite recipes and make a menu. Then determine what you can pick up at the market that day, as well as which items need to be purchased later in the week (for freshness). Place the menu on a cork board or activity board in your house (or in your planner) to remind you what you will be making for dinner and which night will be left-overs. Doing this, at least for me, creates a bit of excitement as I look forward to certain meals throughout the week, and I find great relaxation when I can get into the kitchen knowing I have the ingredients and feeling confident that the food will be delicious.
5. Pick up a journal
As I mentioned in #1, at the daily ritual of writing in a gratitude journal is a simple idea to end the day on a positive note. And even if you’ve had one of those days, there really are things to be grateful for – check this list if you find yourself at a loss for what to write down. Simply taking note of positive events (or non-events – the car didn’t break down!), can be a wonderful reminder that things are going better than we might have first thought.
6. Peruse the new releases
Fall is the peak season for arts & culture to premiere the most anticipated books, plays, shows and movies. Check the The New York Review of Books and September magazines (all genres) for new releases. Simply by having something to look forward to on your calendar either arriving in your local bookstore or an event you will attend increases the level of excitement and anticipation.
7. Visit your local nursery
Fall plants will begin appearing at nurseries to finish the blooming season – check out mums, daisies and sunflowers. Add a few to your porch or vases throughout the house.
8. Buy a new planner (or inserts)
As I mentioned last Friday, I ordered this blank monthly planner, and I can’t wait to start fresh. There is something about looking at a clean, blank page that is exhilarating and auspicious. (TSLL has planner pages as well for Classic, Compact & Personal size planners – each with one of TSLL illustrations by Inslee.)
9. Stock up on your favorites tea & coffee
As our schedules get busier, make sure your daily ritual go-tos are stocked and ready to be enjoyed. At the beginning of a brand new day, a respite in the middle or after a busy day, there is something comforting about sipping a hot cup of your favorite drink. Have the best quality on hand that you can afford, along with a favorite cup of choice. Something so simple can make a big difference.
10. Spruce up and stock up your handbag
Whether you have found your favorite go-to day handbag, take a few minutes, to clean out, and then restock for the new season. Chapstick, Tide-to-Go, hand lotion, breath mints, a favorite pen, anything to get you through your day – stock it up, and then toss the rest so that it is neat and tidy.
11. Add a few new tunes
However you listen to your music (cds, vinyl, MP3), add a few new tunes that either calm you down or put an extra hop in your step – whatever you are seeking. I recently just added a few nostalgic favorites as I saw a profile on Christopher Cross yesterday. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to download these popular titles “Sailing“, “Arthur’s Theme” & “Ride Like the Wind”. Oh, and this French accordion album — The Best of French Accordion Classics – I love beginning my day with the sounds of Paris.
12. Set your intention
As I began taking yoga classes at a new study recently, one of the reminders at the beginning of our session was to set our intention – what did we wish to receive or achieve by attending class – did we want to push ourselves further, did we simply just want to make it through class, did we want to be more aware of staying focused and letting go of outside thoughts – whatever our intention was, it was ours. So what will your intention be for the fall season and beyond? Choose one, write it down and reflect upon it from time to time. Create daily rituals and habits that help this intention become your reality. I think you will be surprised that what you focus on, you are more likely to create – much like the attitude we bring to any new venture or beginning. If we’re excited, that excitement spreads and invigorates, but if we’re leery or cynical, moments of wonder are less likely to be enjoyed and discovered.
Any new season brings with it wonderful opportunities, but yes, indeed, there does seem to be something special about the fall season – specifically the beginning of September. By mindfully being aware of our preparedness, our attitude and where we wish to go, we have that much greater chance of it materializing before our very eyes.
May La Rentrée treat you well.
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