La Rentrée of 2021: A Start to A New You Like Never Before

Aug 30, 2021

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“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” —Oprah Winfrey

Officially in France, Le Rentrée for most universities begins on Thursday, jeudi 2 Septembre 2021. For some schools, la rentrée is on vendredi 3 September. While the French have held this annual event as a custom since the 13th century in one form or another, primarily, it came to be due to students returning to school; however, over the years rentrée has become the return from les vacances d’été for everyone whether they have children returning to school or not.

Here in the United States, summer unofficially concludes after Labor Day as we in the states know which is always the first Monday in September, marking our quasi-rentrée. And even though I no longer, for the first time in my entire life, will not be returning to the school schedule, I look forward to this annual ritual of return to whatever constitutes a steady rhythm of everyday life. Granted, this is defined differently by each of us, and some may reluctantly return from their summer holiday and others excitedly step back into the autumnal routine of their lives (count me in the latter), but either way, it will arrive over the course of the next seven days, and I am determined to make the most of it.

I have written two posts on how to welcome this ritual into our daily lives (see the links at the bottom of today’s post), so this year I’d like to share with you a more existential list of suggestions and ideas for cultivating a new routine to keep you soaring into this new season.


As Norman and I took our morning walk this past weekend (see pic above), the sun, the sky, everything Mother Nature was giving, I was soaking up. Being able to habituate my exercise into my morning every day is a luxury I am not taking for granted. As such, I have been examining my life as thoughtfully as possible to further appreciate what I know will work best as I design a life schedule to help the life I love living be savored most fully.

As I shared in this post in 2017, the first question to begin with as we examine the past 2-3 months, is what habits, routines, and pastimes were you able to engage in which made you feel most rested, energized and your best self? How can you incorporate those into your fall routine? However, this year, I think we can extend the 2-3 months to the past 17-18 months.

Below are four areas to contemplate to step into the new season in a much more beneficial way to ensure you are living a life that brings you deep contentment.

1. Let go of unhelpful ruts in your thinking

Oprah’s quote from above sets the tone for today’s post well as often, it is how we think life should go, what we think life should be, that reduces the quality of our days. Next Monday’s podcast episode (#311), the first of Season 8, will talk much about precisely our unhelpful lack of awareness, going along to get along, only to realize our lives are not infinite, and what are we doing with our 4000 weeks on the planet? Uphelpful thinking is one shift to relinquish.

From I should stay in contact even though we have nothing else in common, to thinking nobody would want to say yes to your invitation that you eagerly and sincerely want to extend, shift the thinking – would you want someone to stay in contact with you if you have nothing in common with them? Communicate respectfully a pause in the relationship and let each person go their own ways. Regarding the second example, maybe you are inviting the wrong people, and this is the perfect opportunity to strike out and meet new contacts and acquaintances.

Shifting our unhelpful ruts that keep us stuck, that keep us where we don’t want to be, even though we don’t know where the new trail will lead, is better than staying where we are.

2. Care for the person you are now

From the surface – your skin and body as you age will need different care and products to look and perform at its best; to your inner growth – letting go, stepping forward and into new opportunities as you realize your strengths, acknowledging areas of weakness and choosing to be the grown-up and not pretending to know everything, investing in the person you are today, so you can be the best you right now, not who you thought you should be when you were younger. You’ve learned more, lived more, need different things, and also hopefully have more peace with your own company which will enable you to build healthier connections, deepen your awareness and live a life of more contentment than you younger self ever could have.

3. Stock up on daily ritual necessities

What brings you calm at the end of the day? How do you feel your best when the day begins? For me, I am making sure my books to read in the morning, during the day for work as well as leisurely reading at night are selected and ordered or picked up at the library. (Stop by each Friday and read TSLL’s This & That for the most recently released new books and recommended favorites. You can also shop TSLL’s recommended book shop here. ) I am also making sure my skincare and makeup routines are revamped and actually helping my skin look its best which has prompted me to change from fewer powder products to more cream based. Office supplies, a well stocked épicerie, each of these daily stocked-up areas in my life ensure I make it through my day well, conclude it with a sigh of appreciation and start as fresh as possible, feeling my best.

4. Let yourself be who you are and know yourself to be

“Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.” —Maya Angelou

I appreciate Maya Angelou’s quote and think 2021’s Rentrée is more significant than past rentrées simply because, we are back in our offices, classrooms, able to meet people face-to-face (even though we are wearing masks), and essentially, this is the first time, after a year+ of time in which we had the opportunity in an unprecedented way to assess, to examine, to digest all that not only has and is happening in the world, but what it has taught us about ourselves, and to now go forth and apply what we’ve learned. What have you learned to deepen your life experience, connection with yourself, others, and the world? What will you change? How will you live more consciously? What will the positive outcome for you be from all of the pain and heartbreak and unwanted moments the pandemic has brought? This is a unique time in history. What will you do with it?

No, we are not out of the woods by a long shot when it comes to the pandemic, but now we have the chance to engage with others in person unlike last September more fully. We can travel more widely. We can see loved ones and attend celebrations and other gatherings – concerts, go out to restaurants and many other activities that were not even an option twelve months ago. How will you shed the ‘you’ that is no longer or never was, but you pretended it to be, and what will be your new footprint?


This Rentrée post is probably not what you were expecting. I only know most intimately my own journey these past 17 months, and without question, who I was in March 2020 is a different person than who I am today in many regards. For that change and awareness and strength I am beyond grateful. Simply looking at my journals pre-pandemic, while many true fundamental truths remain, other areas of weakness have subsided as the reality of life’s finiteness became more starkly obvious. Let’s live, shall we? Fully, deeply, bravely. So perhaps, it’s not a rentrée, but a new entry because we are not the same people we were when the last rentrée took place in 2019. How could we be? And how exciting and wonderful is that? Immensely. Immensely.

Wishing you a wonderful start to a fresh new week and a brand new month of September.

~Be sure to check out the 10 minute podcast episode released today which previews Season 8 of The Simple Sophisticate.

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20 thoughts on “La Rentrée of 2021: A Start to A New You Like Never Before

  1. Good morning Shannon Thank you for this reminder and for the quote from Oprah. Although I no longer go out to work, I really do appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to create my own routines for La Rentree. I look forward to the Autumn (which I now refer to as the Fall, such a beautiful description) and the changes that it brings. With very best wishes, Sue, England.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Sue. I too so appreciate this shift, a reminder to adjust, but perhaps and hopefully, to do intentionally, thoughtfully. May your rentrée be full of positive adjustments and wishing you a deeply contented fall in each everyday. 😌💛

  2. Shannon,
    Your message is thought provoking. Such great questions that inspire reflection. I am going to sit with this one post for a bit and hopeful that your questions will help me “let go” of anything hindering being fully present to the gift of this season of life.
    Good day,
    Debbie

  3. ‘ So perhaps, it’s not a rentrée, but a new entry , because we are not the same people we were ‘

    Hello Shannon,

    When I read this , the phrase

    ‘ you can never step into the same river twice ‘ came to mind .

    Every experience brings us the opportunity to either embrace it or reject it , to deepen our understanding of why we react to it the way that we do , and to choose how we will use and apply that deeper knowledge , or to recognise that there is no need to react to it at all .

    To gather and treasure the knowledge which enhances our lives, and to acknowledge and let go of the things which are no longer relevant to who we are when we step into that river this time .

    Always changing and always different possibilities………exciting !

  4. Wow! This was so well-said. I write a monthly blog which is posted to my company – DiMadeline & Company and it’s called “Maddie’s Moments” and the basic idea behind it is to share “what I wish I knew back then”, etc. I will refer your blog for the October issue and – maybe you will also get some new followers!

  5. Ahh, I love fall! Our schools start the beginning of August (I KNOW right?? seems so wrong..) but I don’t feel the pull of a fresh start until September. I have ordered my ew organizing containers and fresh papers to line the shelves. I have my list of fresh start chores (only I really enjoy myself doing these things, chore isn’t a correct descriptive term here) and get giddy at the prospect of a fresh and crisp start to a new season. I love taking a step back and looking at what works and what no longer serves a purpose or has become too cumbersome to continue. Even though I have no idea what the upcoming months will look like if we don’t get a better grip on the pandemic soon, I will make sure my home is a respite for us, a well run, soft place to fall. Cheers!

  6. Thank you, Shannon, as this post really hit home for me. Particularly, letting go of unhelpful ruts in my thinking is something that I need to reflect on and take action on.

  7. I’ve been a subscriber for several years and have also enjoyed both your books immensely (excited to read the next one – congrats!) … Most often I refrain from commenting on any platform, however, this post resonates and is so on point I had to take a moment to say thank you for so succinctly providing a lens through which to assess how to best “savor the art of living”moving forward. September has always been a reset month for me. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to enter copious notes in my planner/journal as I go through this annual ritual I so very much enjoy. Indeed, let’s live and savor doing so.

    1. First, I have to share I love your handle. 🙂 But most importantly, thank you for commenting. I am truly delighted the post inspired you to reach out. While I know this post was full of conceptual nudges to explore more in-depth parts of ourselves which will only be something we each can know, I appreciate your feedback that this was a post you enjoyed. Thank you.

  8. I am more excited about La Rentree on a lighter level. The french custom of kissing on the cheek ( faire les bises) re-commenced on Sunday when visiting friends. I have missed this custom more than anything else during the pandemic. Also normal services are resumed in France. As everyone takes their holidays in July and August certain establishments are closed for up to three weeks. My boulangerie and grocers re-opened after 3 weeks and I couldn’t be happier . I can procrastinate sometimes but since the pandemic I am determined to let go of this behaviour. Looking forward to autumn for the opportunities to travel and reconnecting with loved ones. Have a great week Shannon xx

    1. Kameela, how lovely to have such grounded re-connect moments to look forward to and experience! And don’t dismiss entirely your moments of “procrastination”. These are the moments when we are ruminating our experiences,(cows have 4 stomachs you know), so that we may digest and then, sally forth with, hopefully, a modicum of joy/wisdom/dogged perseverance. Bises!

  9. Shannon, excellent post, I love the “nuts and bolts” approach of it. Can’t wait for the next podcast, I am in the midst of the book. Oh dear. Guilty on sooo many counts! Et merci mille fois. Bises and extra bises for the puppers! XO

    1. Such a thought-provoking book, no?! I am forcing myself to only read a chapter a day in order to let it sink in. I appreciate his original (or at least, not often heard) opinion and insights on how to manage our time in our one and only life. 🙂

  10. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I think from the days of September being the traditional la rentrèe in terms of school, I always see this month as a fresh start. Even at 33. There’s a lot of things I want to work on this month- predominantly getting back into a productive routine now we’re back to a more “normal” everyday. But I also want to be more kind to myself in that routine! More time for reading, relaxing, and enjoying the autumn season – sad to see summer go but there’s so much to love about autumn. My exercise will hopefully incorporate more autumnal walks through the crunchy leaves in beautiful surroundings.

    I do hope you’re enjoying your new routine thoroughly Shannon. Happy September x

  11. This time of the year – la Rentrée – , and always has been, pretty since my childhood, my “New Year”. Yes, as a student and as a teacher, there is of course the begging of the new school year, which is pretty obvious – but for me, it is really the time of the year when I evaluate the year past and set the “players” (goals, strategies) for a new year, for a new season. It is an intense and deep time for me, that I thoroughly enjoy. Plus Autumn is my favourite season. And yes, I do get a fresh notebook every September.

    The official New Year celebration in December, feels to me always a bit off step, because “my year” has been already running for three months by then… 🙂

  12. Hi Shannon I know we’ve discussed this before but in Australia the school and university year commences in February /March which is the start of our Autumn. The summer break is therefor super long as it includes Christmas and New Year.
    One day I hope to have a Christmas in winter, preferable with a bit of snow.
    Gabrielle

  13. Thank you, Shannon, for these timely and wise insights for the change of seasons. Thanks especially for the reminder that our needs and selves are constantly changing, so we shouldn’t remain in stagnant conceptions but freshly reevaluate what we need in this moment and for this version of our self!

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