There's a sadness in the air, it has been creeping in over the past week. I notice it most in the evening as I look out of our kitchen windows and realise the sky is darkening and the nights are slowly drawing in. It's a time that marks change and transition, of endings, but also new beginnings.
This September there is a lot of change happening in our household. I return to teaching on campus, something I haven't done for over two years. My husband also returns to study alongside his job. My daughter will take on the biggest change, as she starts her first year in a new school.
I have learned to pay attention to my feelings and listen to that inner intuition. I have spent time tuning into subtle shifts in my body and environment. The more I sit outside and embrace nature, the more I understand its rhythm. And right now, this awareness is serving me well, and so, rather than a Big Bang of change - something sudden and potentially jarring, my senses are telling me that gradual transition is needed. I sense it in the changing light, growing darker and earlier each evening. I feel it in the chill and nip of the air in the mornings. I can hear it in the stillness of the skies, as my beloved swifts have left and are on their return journey to Africa. The taste of the season is shifting, with my first blackberry crumble of the year. And the smell of freshly cut grass and BBQ's wafting over the garden fences in our village is waning.
And even as I type this, I feel sad. And that is OK. I know I'm not great at change or letting things go. As a child, I was always unhappy returning from family holidays or even play times with friends. I am a comfort seeker and like things to stay the same by nature.
BUT adult Sarah knows that change is good, and when looked at from a different perspective, change can bring about new adventures, opportunities and one of my favourite things at this time of year - new stationary!
So, how do I alter the way I look at things? What do I do to make this seasonal shift enjoyable? Where do I place my focus? Well, one thing is certain, and that is I want to fully embrace this time, rather than fight against it or mourn the loss of the warmer months. Life is change, nothing stays the same, there is constant flux. I am deciding to be intentional about this and have put down my thoughts and a practical plan for the months ahead.
First, I choose to accept. Accepting that I feel the way I do. Accepting that a new season is coming, and that change is on the horizon. Being at peace with this is an important first step. Acceptance is never resignation, rather, it is recognition, an acknowledgment of what is. This will look like:
Sitting outside as the daylight fades and watching the stars come out.
Noticing the details of nature as it accepts the seasonal shift.
Talking about the differences each day in a positive way.
Turning towards change by preparing for it (more on this later).
Second, I will look back in order to move forward. Each September, I find myself asking "How did I do this before? How did I get up, sort the kids out, go to work, come home and do all the other fun stuff too? How did I fit it all in?" This year I will reframe my words and use my past experience to shape the future. This will look like:
Using different language - "This time of year always brings a lot of change, but I've done it before and can do it again." Or with humour - "Hello September my old friend, you again!"
Allowing the nervous energy of "How is this going to work out?" to be translated as "Remember how this all came together last time?"
Third, I am a very visual person and so creating visual prompts that change is afoot helps me connect with it and experience it in a positive way. This could be in practical ways of budgeting, cleaning, or organising, but also in fun ways like decorating, seasonal activities, and a change of scenery. This looks like:
Writing down what is ahead. By making lists and setting out my diary for September, I feel ready for what is ahead.
Clearing my office space, emptying my work bag, and getting my work wardrobe ready, are little ways of accepting and recognising they will soon be used.
Organising the files on my desktop, the pots in the garden and school uniforms is another practical way of slowly shifting gears.
I enjoy changing the feel of our home each season, and so there will be more candles, blankets and cushions.
Researching ideas for new recipes, activities and days out that embrace the cooler months ahead is something I plan to do this year.
Slowing down the pace, being intentional with what I say 'yes' and 'no' to, and making space in my diary will help me ease into the new academic year with less anxiety.
All of the above ideas are ways of celebrating change. And, I think, this is the key to it all. By embracing change with open arms, giving it a round of applause as it arrives and making it feel welcome while it's here, allows us to fully connect with all that it has to offer. And this is an important point - what does this time of change have to offer? What opportunities will it bring? I believe we are given each day as a new, fresh start - to try again, learn from yesterday and do better. So too, with the new months and seasons ahead. I will be asking myself: "How can I make this the best start to the new school year?" "What can I do differently to enjoy all the next few months have in store?" and "What new experiences can I have this year?"
I'd love to hear your thoughts on change and what it means to you. You can comment below, email me or get in touch via my socials @iamsarahalexcarter. In the meantime, you will find me in the nearest stationers looking for a shiny new notebook and pen!