In approximately two weeks time, what the French call la rentrée takes place, the return to everyday life or re-entry, having returned from the rest and leisurely schedules of summer. Here in the states, following Labor Day weekend marks the shift back into an everyday schedule for work and school. Nearly each year for the past six years, TSLL has posted something to signify this shift of the calendar, and 2022 will be no different.
However, this year I will be sharing tasks that ready not only your routine, but your sense of steadiness, calm and confidence that as you move forward, the new fall season and into the year that unfolds will be a positive transition and potentially transformative because of how you are contented in your everyday life.
I share this because while last fall was the first time I was not stepping back into the classroom to teach, after having retired in the spring of 2021, I still had many large projects I was focusing on and bringing to their completion. This year, the projects are complete (3rd book, house renovations, etc.), and fall will begin with a regular work schedule, a settled house and home and what I hope is a more grounded, calm Shannon at the helm.
I have been sharing over the summer, and especially more specifically in the monthly A Cuppa Moments video chats how my pace of life has noticeably slowed down, and while yes, it was summer when this occurred, that was actually coincidental, as it was rather conscious shifts away from routines, thoughts and approaches that have enabled me to slow down and it is a pace I am determined to carry forward year-round.
Because of this intentional slower pace, I am sleeping better, I am engaging more lovingly and excitedly, and I am finding such comfort and gratitude in being able to let go and not know how tomorrow or next month or next year will unfold, and instead trusting that I will figure out and know when I need to so long as I keep an open mind and heart, a strong sense of self, honoring and caring for my needs as I move forward.
Such a pace gives me more space to know and understand what elevates and what constricts, what supports and what drains, and so I am consciously making different and certain choices of where and how I invest my time, money and emotions.
With all of that said, I love this time of year. I love feeling the tail-end of summer, the garden now giving all its beauty and bounty after months of maturing and growth, the days gradually shortening, but still keeping their warmth, and excitement that seems to innately build as fall brings with it possibility and so much potential to be rested and clear-eyed about how to better proceed forward.
Below are a few tasks to tend to provide a strong start to a brand new year on the calendar that begins with La Rentrée in September.
1.Assess honestly what causes confusion and thus stress in your life
In early August, so just a few weeks ago, a detailed post shared how to live a genuinely simple life that cultivates deep fulfillment. At the core of living truly simply, is addressing what causes confusion and then creating the conditions for less confusion. Too often we accept that confusion is a fact of life, that we have to just ‘deal with it’, but thankfully we would be wrong.
For example, some confusion in my own life that has been causing stress is how to best groom Norman. It always caused me stress to drop him off, and now that I have more time and my own schedule, I have been exploring and seeking out sources to teach myself how to groom him as his breed and hair is not as difficult compared to my sweet boy Oscar’s haircut (cocker spaniel). Upon finding experts and sources I trust about how to groom Norman’s breed as well as acquiring the correct tools and knowing how to care for them properly, my stress levels have already dropped because doing the grooming is not a source of stress for me, but rather what was, was leaving him to be groomed by someone else.
Thankfully, the conditions in my life enable me to reduce or eliminate this stress, and so I am seizing the opportunity. What in your own life causes you stress because you are confused about how to deal with it properly or what to do? Do you have to be doing it the way you are? Do you have to be doing it at all? Be honest with yourself, read this post as mentioned above, and make courageous decisions that will make a wonderful difference in lowering your stress levels so you can enjoy your days.
2. Clean out, Edit and Assess your Capsule Wardrobe for Fall/Winter
While many of you have probably already done this item on this list as you have begun to shop for your updates to fill the gaps in your Capsule Wardrobe, if you haven’t gone through your closet and given it its regular look-over and clean-up, be sure to do so before you go shopping for new items. Going through my own closet is on my list for next week as I do want to add a few investment pieces to my fall/winter capsule but I want to make sure I am investing in what I really need to wear what I love to wear and feel my best. Look for TSLL’s Annual Fall Shopping Guide to be posted here on the blog on Thursday September 1st (shop last year’s Fall Shopping Guide here).
3. Have the carpets and/or rugs professionally cleaned
One task I have been looking forward to doing, but have waited until summer concluded due to the amount of dust our walks bring back home on Norman’s paws is cleaning the carpets. In fact, they haven’t been professionally cleaned since the bathroom renovations were complete this past January, so they are in much need of attention. I will be having them clean one or two rugs as well (my lovely well used rug in front of the stove especially), and just knowing these well-used floors will be cleaned well brings a deeper, cleaner, refreshing feel to the house, as if to say, okay, we’re ready for fall. Bring it on.
4. Deep clean your house
Staying on the topic of cleaning, when we reduce clutter, our stress levels decrease because less is vying for our attention and prompting commentary in our minds when we lay eyes on it the unorganized closet, office desk, kitchen counter, etc.. And it is when we deep clean our houses – the showers, the floors, the baseboards, the bones of our homes, that even more so alleviates stress because now we have less to do each time we tend to our regularly weekly or bi-weekly cleaning that occurs as our days and weeks unfold.
Whether you hire someone or do the cleaning yourself, I have found this time of year for cleaning windows, linens, curtains, etc. to be less typical, but just as powerful as the oft-mentioned spring cleaning. And if an entire deep cleaning of the house is not needed or possible, then just select certain areas or items that are frequently used and would be noticeable and appreciated when given special, close attention – such as the refrigerator, windows, home office, etc.
5. Prioritize and set to a schedule your fitness routine
Sometimes the summer understandably changes how and where we workout. Even if it doesn’t, assess if your fitness routine is working for you. How do you feel throughout your week? Energized, tired, unable to sleep? Or do you enjoy restful nights of slumber, have enough energy to move through your day and look forward to working out due to either the people you do so with (classes, instructors), where you get to workout, and/or the positive differences it is yielding?
Something that has worked for me is doing the same thing each day, weekday or weekend, which is a good long walk with Norman in the morning after breakfast. We walk at a variety of places and never in the same place on the same day, but there is always a 2-4 mile walk we will be taking together, and it sets up the day well. My mind is refreshed, Norman is happy and then naps when we return while I work and getting the fresh air into my lungs is free therapy for my mind. As well, the week before, as I take yoga classes, I look at the week ahead and schedule the one or two yoga classes, signing up on their app, which holds me to account and commits my time and money so I don’t back out.
When we take the time to prioritize our fitness and figure out how to do something we love and look forward to because we also see the benefits in our energy and sleep, we think more clearly, make better decisions and are practicing the importance of honoring what we need to live well which is a great first step in doing so with other decisions as well.
6. Choose one (not two), but still one task or activity to challenge your mind
It can happen that in our excitement for stepping back into the new season with renewed energy that we take on too much. I would see this often with my AP students (juniors), they were ready to start fresh and have a better or great year and sign up for both sports and multiple extracurriculars, and a far too challenging academic course schedule (sometimes taking 4-5 AP courses on top of their extracurriculars) because they genuinely wanted to do it, but they had forgotten that they needed the time to study, prepare, and then eat well and sleep 8-10 hours also in order to do everything well. By October or November, they were looking ragged, feeling stressed and often in at least one or two classes, their grades weren’t looking that hot either, and they were great students, but they had taken on too much.
I share that cautionary observation not to suggest you take it easy this fall, but to choose something that will challenge you and help you grow, but that is also something you love and are genuinely curious about. And because you are curious about it and deeply want to learn, give your full attention and best energy and efforts so that you gain all the potential it has to give to you for growth.
In my own life this fall, I have chosen to invest in taking online French language classes from an Alliance de Française that comes highly recommended and will likely be quite rigorous (Washington D.C.’s). I had thought I might want to take my first course from them this past summer, but I knew my summer would be full of projects and gardening, so I looked ahead to my fall and winter and said, let’s wait until September to begin so I can give my full attention and more energy to acquiring the skills I want to learn and knowing my money will not be wasted.
No doubt my mind will get a workout, and because I am investing monetarily, I am being held more to account should I ever consider not giving my full focus, and with fewer projects and responsibilities in my schedule, I won’t feel I am short-changing something else that I love.
What can you do that will challenge your mind and help you grow in ways you have always wanted but needed the time and energy? Choose one thing – maybe it is a class that expands your knowledge of a subject or maybe it is something physical, learning a new skill or sport. Whichever it is for you, use this choice to help you pursue quality over quantity and help you keep a limited schedule so that what you do give your time to provides a worthwhile outcome for growth.
7. Plan something in the near future to look forward to or work for
Maybe you want to schedule a mini-getaway in the middle of fall or end of fall. Maybe you have an outcome that will require you to save up money and require you to be more disciplined by not spending in other ways that you normally would in order to acquire or achieve it. Whichever fits into your life and where you are right now, I highly recommend selecting one or the other or both which will give you motivation to either save, spend wisely, or slow down, etc.. As well, when you have something in the near future that you have chosen, that you know will add value and elevation to your life and days, you have a purpose, and having a purpose makes it easier to hold yourself in the present. Much like pointing the car in the right direction. Once you know you are heading in the right direction, you can relax and enjoy the scenery and the beauty that you are driving past.
For me, I have a couple of things planned that after much thought and consideration I know will contribute to the quality of my life, some are small but part of self-care nurturing and others are more grand, but all of them hold my focus, and provide the assurance that my slower pace of life is the best pace as I know I will eventually arrive where I want to go and going slow will ensure I get there in the best peace of mind.
8. Find a good book or two to engage your mind constructively
Here on TSLL as readers know, each Friday the This & That post is shared, and I always include a handful of books to explore on a variety of topics and genres (peruse past This & That posts here in the Archives). In my own daily routine I try to have 2-3 books I am reading at any given time as I prefer certain topics at different times of the day based on my energy levels and whether I want my mind to relax. For example, in the evening I rarely read anything that involves too much drama or intensity. Rather I enjoy reading a non-fiction book about topics I love – gardening, cooking, travel. During the afternoon, bring on the John Le Carre novel as my mind is awake and isn’t trying to relax as it would before turning in for a night of sleep. As well, I enjoy reading or listening to non-fiction books that teach me something about a certain topic in the morning while I am walking or again in the mid-afternoon when the workday is done, I am sitting and relaxing, but want to peruse and explore something that teaches me new and holds my attention. For early morning reading before beginning the day, I try to always have an uplifting read with daily or short entries. Many TSLL readers have read or are reading TSLL’s latest book – The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment which offers a single page entry for each day of the year.
Another source found here on TSLL blog for books worth reading is tuning in to the monthly video chat with TOP Tier Members, A Cuppa Moments w/Shannon, as I always begin each conversation sharing at least three books (and usually more): (1) a book I curious to read, (2) a book I am reading and enjoy and (3) a book I am recommending (explore becoming a Member here).
9. Assess and protect your self-care routine and needs
Self-care is not a luxury nor a guilty pleasure. We have talked about this truth multiple times here on the blog (read this and this post), and while summer sometimes makes it easier to enjoy self-care opportunities, such a practice when continued year-round has profound benefits beginning with our strength of mind, our treatment of ourselves and others.
Part of self-care is knowing when you need to give yourself self-care before your energy-levels and/or stress-levels get too heightened and you have said or done something you regret. Self-awareness and mindfulness, each of these soft skills are gravely important to knowing how to care for ourselves well, so we can engage with the world in a way that reflects who we truly are and wish to be.
10. Take account of your garden and what to plant this fall for next spring blooms
In a few weeks time, here on the blog, I look forward to sharing my regular fall post of how the garden fared this year, sharing peeks here and there of the flowers, plants and what I discovered, but for now, this task is an important one and an most enjoyable one (at least for me). In the evening or the morning, if you haven’t assessed yet what you want to add, take a stroll through your garden and make notes of the bulbs or perennials you want to add and see blooming in the spring. Perhaps you want more daffodils or crocus, purchase those bulbs today so you can have them delivered either in September or October and put in the ground before it becomes too hard. If you would like to begin sowing sweet pea seeds in autumn to have a stronger crop earlier next year, purchase those seeds now as well. You get the idea, but I must say, I love this task because I am not only imagining what I would like to see next year, but savoring how much more mature my garden is than the previous season and savoring its growth.
11. Keep in mind that your well-being affects those you love
I saved this item for the final piece on the list because if nothing else above motivates you to make constructive changes to your life to live well and treat yourself well, then let the love you have for those in your immediate life circle be your motivation.
For me, it is largely Norman who motivates me to not only care for my physical health with our regular fitness routine, but after reading The Forever Dog: Surprising New Science to Help Your Canine Companion Live Younger, Healthier, and Longer (a must-read for current and will-be dog owners), I was reminded how our mental well-being, our steadiness, our contentedness and good health affects our pups significantly. It has been long known that parents’ well-being affects their children’s psychological development, social well-being and ability to grow into secure adults, and while our dogs will not be leaving the nest to go to college, as someone who chooses to be a doggie mama and lives childfree, I want to care as well as I can for the pups that are in my life.
So if you are looking for external motivation to care for yourself well, let those you love be the motivation, but always know, true motivation, lasting motivation, must come from within because your need to live a life of contentment and find your purpose is enough of a reason to care for yourself well.
After a restful weekend, I am looking forward to a brand new week beginning and with it, a few weeks still to savor summer whilst preparing for la rentrée that has the potential to be an awesome beginning. I hope you too are looking ahead with auspicious enthusiasm all the while loving the opportunity to savor these final few weeks of the summer season.
Thank you for stopping by as you begin this new week, and remember when September begins, the podcast (The Simple Sophisticate) will be airing new episodes on Wednesdays (the 1st and the 3rd of each month) instead of its previous day of the week which was Monday. And that means that every Monday, a new Monday Motivational post, similar to this one, will be posted here on the blog. Find archived Monday Motivational posts in the following categories – Lifestyle, Contentment, Health and Mindfulness in TSLL’s Archives. Bonne journée. 😌
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY