On recent strolls through my neighborhood, I've been noticing that while my route remains the same, my surroundings do not. Orange leaves are peeking through in ways they weren't even a day before, my neighbor's big black overcoat has made a fall debut, I'm hearing hot apple cider instead of iced tea orders at the cafe, and the offerings at the local fruit stand already include pumpkins! It all got me thinking about how we can learn from the changes we observe in our environment and readily connect nature to with the changes and adaptations we observe within ourselves.
Mother Nature changes our surroundings all year long, and in turn, we adjust and switch up our routines, even in tiny ways. Here are a few fun ways to look at the ways in which Nature is talking to us and how the change in the air (particularly this crisp, fall air!) can also help us make simple changes in our emotional lives.
1. Change your attitude like you do your wardrobe. My wardrobe, and yours too I bet, is already seeing natural shifts. Without thought, I grabbed my puffy blue vest the other day, a piece that has been ignored since Memorial Day at least. I like to think of this clothing shift as representing the need for balance in our lives. As seasons change, we're in a constant give and take with nature, catering to each other and adapting as shifts occur. It's a practice that can be taken into your personal relationships as well. I bet there are times when you could make a helpful change for someone in need that's as simple as putting on a jacket. Just as you would try on a jacket or sweater, you can try on a new attitude for size. I've seen dozens of commercials for back-to-school shopping and sales, but what these ads are really highlighting is a sweeping desire and need for seasonal change and growth. At the start of the school year, kids get new pencils, notebooks, and likely, new shoes for those ever-growing feet. What do you get this time of year? I challenge you to look past the shopping for material things and instead shop for additions to your emotional life. Instead of yet another scarf to keep your neck cozy, maybe a hand-written thank you card to the family with whom your kids carpool with is in order. That's warmth in two very different and effective ways! Or maybe instead of a new pair of sturdy boots to traipse around in, you could take that idea of stability and foundation and lend a hand (and maybe a shoulder to cry on) to a friend or family member in need. What other wardrobe for attitude swaps can you come up with?
2. Nourish your hobbies like nature nourishes you. If you've been to the grocery store lately, you've likely noticed that the popsicle and tiny umbrella displays have been swapped for pumpkins, corn, apples, and cozier fare. When people ask what your favorite food is, it's easy to fall into an easy, general response like "pizza!" "French fries!" "tacos!" But I think that the favorite food question should really be broken up into seasons because Mother Nature gifts us with special, fresh nourishment every time of year. For example, it's easy to love apple pie and to find it any time of year, but the magic of that same pie is heightened by fresh farm-picked apples in autumn. There's a reason they say certain crops are "in season" -- we should enjoy and nourish ourselves with the things nature is telling us to. And it goes beyond just what foods we eat. Think about the ways you nourish yourself in the summertime: reading an exciting book on the beach, hosting a BBQ for friends, gallivanting through a water park, and more! As those summer activities begin to disappear, think of how they transform in fall. Whether you feel emotional nourishment by quiet time, social gatherings, or giving back, autumn can support you. Apple picking, pumpkin carving, baking, and hayrides quite literally connect us with seasonal change, as we interact with autumn directly. The options are endless. We can nourish ourselves by embracing seasons changing as a fruitful opportunity.
3. Make shedding emotional weight breezy. The concept of keeping emotional and physical weight in balance is a cornerstone of my business, but I realized this season that nature, too, keeps its weight in balance. As a child, crunching through a pile of fallen leaves was just a way to spend a silly afternoon. Now, I see those leaves as a symbol for living a lighter life. I'm not saying the trees are on a diet, shedding their literal pounds of leaves; I'm saying that nature is preparing for big changes coming its way (hello, winter!) with foresight, patience, and power. The trees are expecting a change, choosing to accept it, letting the change happen gradually, and keeping a strong foundation. What a fabulous message to give the world. The tree keeps its identity and sheds an excess, knowing it will have an opportunity to bring new leaves in another season. With this in mind, consider the untapped opportunities you may have to do the same. In stressful times like changing jobs, moving homes, breaking up with someone, don't lose your identity and foundation; instead, look for the excess you can shed like leaves to lighten the load for a while. Even things like taking a break from social media, going on a temporary hiatus from a club to carve out more time, or finding a new restaurant to go to and cherish all by yourself are ways in which losing one thing can actually be gaining another. So this time of year, when you have an obstacle coming your way, make like a tree. It sounds silly, but if we follow nature's lead, we can anticipate, prepare, and stay strong, eliminating the heaviness that weighs us down in challenging times.
Nature is talking to us; we should listen! Bundle up in that new sweater, eat that pumpkin pie, and crunch through some leaves; truly enjoy the season! But don't forget to supplement the physical changes with emotional ones. Wear a new attitude, nourish your soul, and shed the weight, and it's sure to be your best season yet.