We are officially in the autumn season! School is well underway. Routines of work and life have resumed after the relaxed schedule of summer break. The cooler temperatures and changing seasons make me reflect on more than pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider. Autumn brings with it vibrant color in the natural world, warm and crisp days, and preparation for the holiday season. Just as the kids have returned to the 3 Rs in school, maybe fall is the perfect time to consider some Rs too. Let’s think together about how fall is a time to: reconnect, replenish, and reimagine.
Reconnect. Has it been a while since you were in connection with family members or close friends? With the social distancing, school closures, and work restrictions we experienced in 2020 and 2021, your social calendar may have been empty. As society acclimates to learning to live with the rise and fall of Covid cases, you may have started to rekindle relationships or in-person meetings. A recently published research article by Ortiz-Ospina and Roser (2020) shows a direct positive correlation between social connections and our happiness and health. They partly attribute this correlation to the fact that creating relationships is an intentional and active pursuit. Can you think of the last time you just happened to end up at your favorite diner eating lunch with a close friend? No! It took planning and communication to extend or accept that lunch invitation. Researchers postulate that people become happier when they deliberately decide to improve their lives by pursuing social connections. Interactions with friends and family can be an essential part of enjoying crisp fall days. Making time to connect with others at backyard barbecues, football games, hayrides, group hikes, or evening bonfires can provide an element of relaxation while also providing a beneficial social connection—or reconnection!
Replenish. Many home gardeners know that autumn is the harvest season! Too many zucchinis, tomatoes, and peppers from summer’s waning garden pleasantly burden their kitchens. Some homesteaders practice the art of canning foods to preserve a portion of summer’s bounty to be enjoyed later in the coming winter. They know they will replenish their cupboards from their labor in the garden and efforts in the kitchen. What inner resources require replenishment? Is it focus? Maybe it is an organizational system? Or perhaps your time-management skills need to be sharpened after the lazy days of summer? Or maybe your summer was busy, and now you need some rest. Whatever your situation, autumn is the perfect time to take inventory of your life, decide what needs to be replenished, and make a plan to help achieve fulfillment in that area. The changing season provides that “fresh start” atmosphere, an excellent backdrop to taking stock and making changes to self-care. Gather what you need to ensure your inner resources get replenished before winter arrives.
Reimagine. If you can imagine something once, is it possible you might need to reimagine that same thing at some point? Are there goals, dreams, or desires you had for this year that have not come to full fruition yet? What can you do to reimagine or reframe those goals to make them more approachable? Do the plans need to be more realistic? Perhaps you would even benefit from tossing the idea altogether in favor of a more suitable pursuit for this season of life. For example, a friend had the goal of painting some bookshelves in her home library earlier in the year. But as her work life changed across the course of this year, she found herself in need of a bigger home office space. She dismantled the shelves she had intended to paint and reconfigured the room to suit her purposes while creating a functional home office she truly enjoys. If she had not allowed herself to reimagine the space, she would still be working in a cramped corner of her living room while unpainted bookshelves occupied potentially valuable space. Sometimes a complete re-evaluation is necessary to make progress toward a goal or pursuit of a dream.
Reimagining is nothing new to writers; they do it all the time. Jeremy Renner is quoted as saying, “There is nothing new, from Greek mythology to Shakespeare to every rom-com ever made, we’re just reimagining the same 12 story plots over and over again – so what makes people keep watching and listening? It’s all about the character.” As the main character in your own life, how can you reimagine your life?
While temperatures begin to cool and we put pumpkin spice in everything, consider the 3R’s: reconnect, replenish, and reimagine. Create a cozy, reflective atmosphere with a crackling fire and a mug of hot apple cider in hand. Give yourself space to be honest and intentional; take a realistic view of the year and think about how you want autumn to look. The warm days of early autumn provide the perfect backdrop to consider the changes you need to make to end 2021 strong!
Ortiz-Ospina, E., & Roser, M. (2020). Loneliness and Social Connections. Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/social-connections-and-loneliness?fbclid=IwAR1cSfXgU7xloKOx0ITWXwSjSmYAl5OFQ9uWNfEs6d-9EFtL7WirQGGZhww