Last week the weather shifted dramatically from summer to full-on autumn. Suddenly the days were cold. Dark. Wet. I layered on sweaters and hats and scarves. We turned on the furnace and brewed pot after pot of hot tea.
I felt lethargic, melancholy. It was hard to get out of bed in the morning. I made soup and baked bread. I wrote Joy Lists. But nothing seemed to help. I was uninspired and discouraged in my art, too. All I wanted to do was snuggle beneath my quilts and crocheted blankets to wait for the sun to come out again.
I scolded myself for feeling that way. You are safe. You are healthy. It’s just the changing of the seasons. There’s no reason to feel so dejected.
But then I started to think a bit more about what a change like this means. In my garden the first hard frost will kill some of my plants. Others will lose their leaves and wait, suspended, till light and warmth return. The insects and animals that don’t tough it out through winter either leave or hibernate or die.
This change of season is a profound change.
As an artist almost all of my inspiration comes directly from my garden. Very soon all of my outdoor plants and flowers will be crumpled to nothing. Of course I’ll feel a loss when the gardening season slips away.
So what’s the answer?
First, I’m giving myself permission for my feelings. No more chiding myself for mourning the summer.
And I’m sending out extra thanks for each small grace that lingers. The herbs in the glass on the windowsill. The freshly picked vegetables on my plate. The flowers on the table.
My journal is always a place of solace. Whether I’m feeling good or bad or uncertain, putting pen to paper always helps. Sometimes the words flow for page after page. Sometimes I only manage a few sentences. The ritual of sitting down with myself and my journal is one of the best forms of self-care I know.
I’m also trying to slow down and pay attention to the beauties of autumn. The changing colors. The acorns on the sidewalk. The mushrooms appearing overnight.
The other day Rachel Wolf posted a beautiful piece on her blog about the healing we find when we venture away from the warmth of the fire and out into the medicine of nature. Although I live in town, I find healing walking beneath the trees even when there’s concrete under my feet. I can bring home pockets filled with acorns and interesting leaves. I might notice a bluejay hunting for seeds in a nodding sunflower head or happen upon a charm* of goldfinches trilling as they swoop away from someone’s spent coneflower patch. Snuggling beneath quilts has its place, but I need to make sure I venture outside, too.
Change is one thing we can always count on. The seasons change predictably. Other changes and transitions take us by surprise. Change can come as a welcome friend. Or arrive as an irritation. Sometimes change can be devastating.
No matter the type of change, we need to give ourselves room for it. Even if our busy lives don’t always seem to allow it. I’ve been feeling a change coming in my art. I don’t yet know what that change will look like, but I’m being patient as I figure it out. Like with all changes I need to remember to honor the process, the uncertainty, the discomfort.
I don’t know what you’re going through at this moment, if you’re in a moment of change or transition. I’m wishing you gentleness and grace. Give yourself time and space. Be patient and honor the season you’re in.
*aren’t collective nouns fun? A group of goldfinches is called a charm and also a drum, a troubling or a chirm. There are many resources on the internet and in print to help you find these magical words. I usually just google it and see what comes up.