By Robyn Beckman
When asked to write about Autumn for this month’s “Inside Life Times” magazine, I felt a tightening in my gut. Because doing so, means the end of my favorite season of the year – SUMMER!
Usually, summer in the Puget Sound begins on July 5th – not so this year; it didn’t arrive until July 13th! Then, just as we were about to enjoy the late days of summer in September, the region was enveloped in smoke from the fires for 11 days so that cooled things off and the air quality wasn’t safe to go outside. So, I feel sort of cheated with a shorter summer. Plus, of course, summer is usually spent running around really enjoying all of the beauty this part of the globe offers and indulging in activities like outdoor concerts, dining ala fresca, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, attending music and art festivals, spending a lot of time with friends outdoors, going to parks, gardening and not having to wear socks (I just love my sandals)! This year – mostly gardening, walking the dog and very few socializing events with another couple or a friend.
I usually feel this pang of “OH NO! NOT YET!” as soon as I start to see school supplies being sold at the stores. And I did feel it again this year – only to be followed by feelings of compassion for all the hardships, challenges and suffering that COVID-19 is creating regarding school. My heart goes out to all the students, teachers and educators who are having to navigate this new paradigm.
I have habitually clung to every last moment or indication of summer; not wanting to let go. I’ve looked at autumn as a time to organize and store away things and begin to wind down from summer’s faster tempo and increased activity. This year, I think I let my fear of contracting and spreading COVID keep me home more than I probably needed to so the activity and adventures were reduced significantly. I spent a lot more time in my garden, in front of the computer and taking walks close to home.
In all honesty, the pandemic is showing me so many unexpected life lessons; some of which I am grateful for and some – not so much! As I cling to hoping for more days of sunshine and temps above 70 in our region, I also can more easily recognize that it is my clinging that is causing my own suffering. So, I am learning to practice gratitude in those moments when I really want to have a pity party about the changing season and its accompanying weather systems.
This year, where I’ve already learned and adapted to staying home, turning inward, living at a slower pace and knowing that this too shall change to something different post pandemic – I’ve decided to let go of the intense resistance to the upcoming season, time and weather change and turn towards it; I’m not quite ready to embrace it (well, maybe a little) but I am tending to my heart and shifting my mindset about it. This allows for me to fully appreciate the moments of what is here now and is enriching my experience of THIS moment and day!
As I begin to see the spectacular colors of the autumn foliage – it is a reckoning that I can begin to put away my spring/summer wardrobe and bring out my cuddly sweaters, warm slippers, crockpot recipes, warm beverage makings, some books I’ve had on my “to read’ list for a while and prepare for “The Big Dark” (Pacific Standard Time of shorter days). Following, are some ideas that may help in adding some joy and comfort to the change in season.
- Go OUTSIDE EVERY DAY.
This is the same advice I had to implement into my life early in the pandemic. We can find ways to still live well in Autumn, including maintaining our connection with nature. If the rains have muddied the trails you like to walk on, walk along the waterfront or anywhere there are sidewalks (Point Ruston, Chambers Bay ridgetop, downtown Gig Harbor or Port Orchard waterfront are examples)
- Drink hot beverages mindfully
Stock up on some of your favorite hot beverages and try some new ones. One of the BEST things about autumn is that it gives an excuse to slow down and cozy up indoors. Taking a mindful coffee, tea or hot cocoa break during the day can be very comforting and is a great way to practice mindfulness.
- Take an autumn drive
This is the time of year when our forests and parks come into their own with vibrant foliage. I love to grab my DSLR camera, create a playlist of my favorite “Sunday morning” songs and take a drive into areas that I don’t normally go and look for scenery that will make excellent photos.
- Go birdwatching!
You don’t have to camp out in the woods with binoculars to appreciate wildlife; hang a birdfeeder and watch the birds out your window. Or, check out some of our beautiful wetlands in the area. Thea Wheler Wetlands in Belfair has beautiful trails. You can check out other places and learn more about birdwatching at: www.birdwatchingdaily.com
- Pick out some great novels or join a book club!
Go to meetup.com and click “explore”, type in your zip code and search for “book club”. Or, check with your local library – many of them have “book club kits” and will help you start your own book club! I might have to do this!
- Get Crafty!
Find an online course to learn a craft or hobby (knitting, scrapbooking, cooking, baking, writing, calligraphy, poetry, dancing, crochet, drawing, photography, painting, etc.). Check out allevents.in. Let’s take advantage of a plethora of classes being offered from all over the world – since there are so many that we can attend now from home that we might not be able to attend in person.
- Get out the crockpot or Insta-Pot
Learn some new recipes. I just saw a recipe for making blueberry cobbler in a crockpot. Guess who is going to give this one a try?! Share with friends.
- Schedule a virtual call with friends and family (while indulging in your new favorite crockpot recipe).
- Learn to Meditate!
I HAD to throw that one in 😊. If you have never meditated (or tried it and thought it wasn’t for you), I encourage you to let go of any pre-conceived ideas, notions or decisions about what you think it is and approach it with a “beginner’s mind” – a not knowing mind and a neutral, open attitude. If you tried it once or twice and it left you with the impression that it wasn’t for you, that you weren’t “good at it” or couldn’t “do it” – it could have been the teacher or instructions wasn’t a good fit for you, the environment wasn’t quite right or that you weren’t at a place where you were “ready” to learn. Please try my classes at: www.mindfulnesswithrobyn.com.