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“September is the chosen month for everything that flowers a second time: the month of the second flower; the month of the ripening wine. All these are mysterious advantages for the month September, full of deeper meaning; and above all, it is the month when the earth opens so that we can plant again!” —Karel Čapek, from the book The Gardener’s Year
Two thirds of the year appear in the rearview mirror when September arrives tomorrow, and while Čapek is largely talking about Mother’s Nature’s second blooms and ripening in the quote above, the second time around for many other events occur in September giving us all the more reason to look to this month, this time of year, with anticipation and hope.
I felt the crisp fall air yesterday morning while walking with Norman as the temperatures sat just below 40 degrees. For the first time I bore witness to the coming changing of the seasons. It felt auspiciously delicious.
Unquestionably, the fall of 2020 will be unlike any other autumn we have stepped foot into. For a variety of reasons, but largely and significantly because of how our lives have been forced to change due to the pandemic. I will admit openly, I have tough days with the limitations and requirements, but I am also determined to navigate through this temporary time (no matter how long it takes) well, so if you are looking for a community to help you garner up the strength to do the same, you are in good company here at TSLL.
Today I would like to share with you 15 ideas for stepping into the fall season with a strong first step in order to strive forward well the entire autumn season.
1. Restore the vital, seemingly simple, rituals
It can happen without realizing it: a daily or weekly ritual or routine that elevates the everyday slips away. For me it has been my daily morning meditation practice these past four weeks slipping away. The contractor has been busy at work in the house this past month, and my morning routine has been altered to make sure I am ready when he arrives. I now am aware how beneficial such a daily ritual is, and I am consciously adding it back.
From watching Gardener’s World every Saturday morning with a fresh pot of tea to particular routes for walks as well as what not to do – not to watch particular shows just before bed as they prompt nightmares, not to read the news in the morning before the mind is ready, etc., such routines and rituals play a fundamental role in my Everydays, and you will have your own individually tailored ones that contribute to your overall contentment as well.
By consciously and determinedly partaking in your rituals and routines that offer moments to rest, relax, step away from whatever the outside world may be doing, you are giving your mind and your being calm. You are healing yourself. At this particular time in our lives, with so much that is uncertain, managing well what you can control is vital and significant.
2. Find time regularly to be with nature
Whether you live in the countryside, have your own yard and garden or live in an urban jungle, find a way to either be outside walking, gardening or being around plants, planting plants and allowing yourself to be fully present in these moments.
Just this weekend, my mind was getting the best of me, so before I settled in for the evening, I plopped my gardening sun hat on, grabbed by secateurs, and went out to dead-head the lavender shrubs. Once I focused on removing the finished lavender spires, saw Norman poking about in the dirt, chatted with my neighbors and took in the outside fresh air, my mind was fully present and no longer “worrying”. Something so simple can be immensely powerful. Do so regularly.
3. Shop for next year’s perennials now
Speaking of gardening, if you have a garden, now is a wonderful time to visit your local garden centers or nurseries as they will be having fantastic sales on plants that need to go before they shut the doors of this temporary part of their business.
I will share a specifically focused garden post later this month about things to do this fall in the garden, but with Labor Day weekend coming up next weekend here in the states and bank holidays happening in Britain and France in the coming weeks, be sure to take advantage of some great savings. And remember, even if the perennials look haggard above ground – the flowers are nearly finished, etc. – simply check the roots and the base. If the soil is healthy and the roots are strong, you are good to go and will have a well-established plant ready to spring from the earth in the spring.
A neighbor alerted me to a sale on Echinaceas (coneflowers, these are magenta) at our local Lowe’s, so I drove down this past weekend and picked up a few for my pollinator garden. Just minutes after planting, the bees had already found them.
~View more of TSLL’s Garden posts here.
4. Limit the news
I will never advocate for turning away completely from the news, but it is vital to our mental health to find trusted sources (two or three), tune in (reading, viewing or listening) regularly but not obsessively, and then go on about our lives as aligning with our priorities and responsibilities. Each of the latter two focuses will be unique to each of us, even if we are actively engaged in the political environment, but when we take control of how we seek out the news, we are not held at the mercy of the whims of sensationalism. Think critically, ask the right questions and multiple times to dig deeper, seek out trusted sources, and do not turn away completely.
5. Dress well to boost your mood and productivity
Tomorrow I will be posting TSLL’s Annual Fall Shopping Guide. Sharing nine fall trends worth investing in as well as doing some shopping for you (75+ items), even though many of us many not be going back to the office or classroom or routine as we would normally in the fall, it does not mean we have to slack on how well we dress.
Admittedly, we may select a few items we would never have considered in the past, but looking and feeling good in what we choose to wear affects our engagement with others and our job productivity and satisfaction.
Even if you only purchase one item this fall for your capsule wardrobe, invest and purchase an item that lifts your spirits and puts a jump in your step.
~On September 1st, click here to read and shop the Seasonal Fall Shopping Guide.
6. Thoughtfully redesign your work routine
Each of us will be adjusting how we work or are required or allowed to work based on our own job. However, reduce some of the stress that will arrive in your life when you have to teach yourself something new or step into a new routine. This week I will be looking at my teaching schedule, determining when classes I will be teaching live on which days and figuring out when I will be physically in my classroom (sans student) and when I might come home and work remotely. I have decided, as we have a choice, that being in my classroom at the school would help my mind separate work from home. I need the separation for my mental health, so I will be examining how to do what is best for my professional and personal well-being.
7. Polish up your physical exercise routine
Many gyms, yoga studios and other previously-in-person-workout-centers are now offering classes online. As well, there are now so many new and well-designed workout apps to keep you fit and engaged right from your own home. Prevention shared 26 of them in this post. Look at your fitness routine and structure a regular schedule. Not only will your health and weight stabilize, but you will sleep better and your worries will dissipate (if only while you workout).
8. Subscribe wisely to uplift your life
Over the weekend I snuggled into my reading nook armchair, pulled out the latest issues of The English Home and Victoria that I had been saving since they arrived earlier in the week and dove in without interruption whilst sipping a hot cup of tea and nibbling on a French chocolate truffle. Each time either one of these magazines arrive, along with Sharon Santoni’s My French Country Home Magazine and Cook’s Illustrated, I smile upon opening the mailbox. I know that an evening is about to be enjoyed simply letting myself read my favorite magazines.
With that said, online subscriptions to particular newspapers, blogs and other sources of inspiration and inspiration are worth having if they fulfill a positive need and add value to your life. Value can be defined in a variety of ways, and a few ways I define value are deepening your calm, providing helpful information and/or strengthening your clarity about particular subjects of interest.
I could not include #8 without sharing that tomorrow (September 1st) I will be posting detailed information about TSLL’s upcoming Soft Paywall which will go into place on Thursday October 1st. I will be sharing with you the price options, tiers and a limited time introductory offer, as I want to keep you informed with as much information as possible you can make the best choice for how you enjoy reading and experiencing the blog along with honoring your budget.
9. Stock the comfort shelves
From tea to candles to chocolate to whatever else enables you to enjoy daily simple luxuries, stock up now for a new season that will be buoyed by thoughtful attention to the while small, truly significant rituals you savor.
A few of the comfort shelves I have in my own home:
- candle cupboard (as talked about in episode #280’s Petit Plaisir)
- a tea and hot drink cupboard in my kitchen
- favorite teas from England and France – Twinings, Palais des Thés to name one of each
- favorite tea cups and mugs
- chocolat chaud small ‘espresso-size’ cups and saucers
- tea bag coasters
- a box of chocolate truffles in the refrigerator from La Maison de Chocolate
10. Choose to learn something new
Many of us are required by our employer due to the changes caused by the pandemic to learn something new in order to do our job, so in that case, focus on what that is and consider this #10 idea on the list completed. However, if your schedule has not changed or you feel you are not being challenged or stimulated because the life you love living is limited due to our current situation, take this opportunity to learn something new. Whether an online class (check out Coursera or EdX for free online classes from top univeristies such as Stanford, Purdue, Harvard, Berkeley and 100s more) or safely managed in-person classes in your local community.
11. Organize the “eyes” of your home and office
The eye of the hurricane calmly sits in the middle of chaos. The eyes of your life are often where you are and need to be in order to get the work done – the kitchen, the office desk, the main bathroom, the garage – it will all depend upon how you live, but tend to these central points of your daily life and organize them, edit them, ensuring that they reduce your stress rather than contribute to it.
As I have been putting my kitchen back together (my guest room is no longer my temporary kitchen storage space! Wahoo!), I have been diligent is letting go items I have never used nor need as space is at a premium in my small cooking area. I have also tried to be thoughtful about where items go – what is the best location for me to quickly find them when I typically “look” for them without causing me to travel unnecessary steps, etc..
Tending to such details now can help our daily routines run smoothly, and on those rare days when our day is not running smoothly, no “straws will break the camel’s back” because we can’t find something where it is supposed to be.
12. Stock up on your Lifestyle Grocery List
In 2015, episode #28 of the podcast, I shared a long and detailed list of the items to consider for your everyday lifestyle grocery list. Tending to this list has helped me navigate more smoothly my everydays as what I need to feel my best, look my best, do my best is stocked and ready to go. Some of the items are repeated in today’s list, so you will notice reinforcement of the everyday items that bring calm and thus clarity and therefore contentment.
13. Assess your monthly budget for efficiency
One of the requests from readers in the recent survey was to write more financially focused posts, and per this request, I am planning on doing just that in the coming months. As I sat down this weekend to tend to my business monthly budget, simply knowing what was coming in, what was going out and where it was going, eased my mind about where I stood on how to spend and save in the month of September. The same holds true for our personal budgets.
Examples of budget questions to ask yourself: Do you really need to pay the additional $5 for “no ads” on Hulu? Does PBS’ Living channel bring you calm when you tune in and therefore the $2.99/mo is more than worth it? Can you save on your garbage bill by choosing a smaller bin? Would it help your mental stress to schedule a weekly night to purchase take-out and not feel guilty about it? How about taking one week a month and not spending a thing? Whatever you choose to do, knowing where your finances stand will bring more peace of mind stepping into the new season.
~View all of TSLL’s Money posts here.
14. Consciously plan how you can socialize
Now more than ever we are being forced to socialize differently. Are you getting enough social, healthy interaction? How can you improve it? It may require more planning, but if you are conscious about it, you can figure out creative ideas for meeting with people you enjoy sharing time with.
15. Check out which one of your favorite television shows will be returning this fall and get excited about their return!
I found out All Rise will be returning as well as The Crown and was sad to see Tommy was cancelled; however simply knowing I have a core handful of shows to look forward to this fall is helping ease back into a full schedule of work. Check out a list of the full Fall Schedule for all channels (alphabetized by show title) and what is returning and what is cancelled here from IndieWire.
I am actually quite excited, with a touch of hesitancy, for this new fall season of life. When a new calendar year begins in January, we often assess what is working and make a conscious effort to improve. So too can September be a chance to bloom again as Čapek shared at the top of the post.
With the opportunity to see my colleagues, meet my new students, kick off Season 3 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show, while requiring more energy perhaps than usual, so long as I organize well, and regular assess how I am doing, there are opportunities and moments to savor and remember for all sorts of good reasons, and so too are there opportunities in your fall season as well. I know we can do this, but do not hesitate to rest, slow down, set a slower pace overall, and take it one day at a time.
With these strategies, more of the odds and storage of energy will be in our favor. Thank you for stopping by today and wishing you an auspicious start to September and the beginning of the fall season.