Mmmm, summertime. Fertility. Fire. Ripe, plump, juicy fruits and hot, soothing sunshine. I've reveled and relished in summer. I had a love affair with the freedom of July, and I settled with a smile into the ripeness of August as the sunflowers I had been babying blossomed and bloomed as if to finally say hello. Welcome, welcome to the happiness that is summertime. Yes, I even talk to my sunflowers in summertime. A little summer rain, a little sunshine and I'm in full bloom too.
But something happens in late summer. Time begins to speed up again. We hold tighter to the summer days, and can barely imagine the feeling of icy winds or puffy winter coats. Some of us walk through the store pretending not to notice the smell of new backpacks or cinnamon-scented pinecones lining the aisles.
Many people experience feelings of anxiety, sadness or even more severe depression as the seasons shift from lush summer, to the shorter, cooler days of autumn. It is important to visit a professional if you find you tend to isolate, become extremely lethargic, or experience symptoms of depression that affect your life. But whether you feel the lighter autumn blues or more severe feelings during the summer to autumn transition, it can help to honor the transition in a new way.
We are a part of nature.
It is important to mourn the wilting of the blossomed summer, while acknowledging the joy of life's cycles. You are a part of a constant birth and rebirth. The transition from summer to autumn is a time for us to let go of what is no longer needed, shed the extraneous, allow ourselves into a quieter, more focused mode, and to gather, feast and nourish. The blossoming will come again, and in even greater form, when we harvest true nourishment in our lives. What truly nourishes you? In what ways would you love to grow?
I chose, this year, to let go of summer with a little more grace and dignity. I use the word dignity in a tongue-in-cheek way, because I realized I hadn't come far in the past 31 years when it comes to letting go of summer without wrapping my body around it and holding on for dear life. My flip-flops don't retire until my cold toes say, "Give it up kid."
My beachy ankle bracelet is always removed with heartache, and my sundresses shamelessly find their way into my autumn wardrobe no matter what it takes. All of this is okay if I'm doing it from a place of joy. But, I don't do this from a place of joy; I do it from a place of fear. Fear of letting go of my fertile, warm, bright, juicy summertime. Fear of death and wilting, rather than celebration for the continuous and connected cycle of all living things.
I hadn't realized that at the end of each summer, nature patiently offers the lesson I need most: It is all oh-so-precious because nothing lasts forever. But, the cycle allows us to shed and grow again. Sunflowers don't mind withering. The lushness around me will soon wither with grace to become part of the earth once again.
It was never about putting away my summer wardrobe, or even about giving up my love affair with the freedom of July. It was about my resistance to life's foundational lesson: Nothing is permanent, but it is all, in some way, everlasting in life's cycle. I have been afraid to let go. Afraid to let go of so many things, but in particular, I have long been afraid to let go of ripeness and joy, because I fear they will never come again. I have been missing the growth and splendor of the cycle itself. The cycle is continuous, and everything is always beginning again.
Autumn is a time of harvesting. What are you harvesting in your life and spirit? As autumn begins, sweep away the ash left from the blazing fires of summer. Tend to your innermost self, clearing your space of anything unnecessary. Notice the beingness, the stillness that remains constant throughout all of life's transitions.
For a beautiful yearlong journey connecting your being to the seasons, I highly recommend Sara Avant Stover's "The Way of the Happy Woman".