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Fall is here. School supplies on local stores’ shelves, the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Lattes in local Starbucks stores, and brisk air intruding on lingering summer heat announces the season. But I feel it in my heart too…I feel the shift from the unabashed wandering and freedom of summer to the structure and expectation of fall. I live in a place where “summer” is a verb—it’s not merely a time of year but a way of being. It’s a way that shifts from relaxed to regimented when September arrives. While there is a certain comfort and beauty that comes with routine, the beginning of the “school year” always comes with a clean slate of possibilities. And while possibility is always exciting, a heavy heart can accompany a new year as well.

Perhaps I’m the only one, but a fresh start can feel like another opportunity to fail and not meet expectations. Thus, the emotional transition from summer to fall can be a difficult one. So how do we manage these “back to school” doldrums? Here are a few ideas…

Plan Something Fun
Just because summer is coming to a close, doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop! Planning an autumn soiree with your dearest friends or a weekend getaway can provide some fun to look forward to well after summer has ended. Every season has unique activities and festive elements to enjoy and continuing the celebratory mindset helps each of us to focus on appreciating the moment rather than surviving the seasons we are less inclined to savor.

Add Commitments One At A Time
Often we have a tendency to put all of our commitments on hold for the summer and reintroduce them after Labor Day. While this provides a much-needed vacation, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed when we return to our routines. Instead of adding all of our commitments in September, take time to evaluate your current life situation and determine what you can handle and what you cannot. Adding commitments one at a time will ensure you will not be overwhelmed.

Do Your Best And Let The Rest Go
When it comes to our commitments and pursuing our goals, all we can do is give our best. The pressure of succeeding and meeting expectations that come with a new year can consume our energy. We use worry like a form of long-distance control when we feel like our goals are merely another opportunity to fail. Whether we actually achieve our goals are not, knowing we did our best will help us move toward our dreams whether or not we actually reach our goals. After that, we are wise to let the rest go!

Stay In The Moment
I have the tendency to always be looking ahead…preparing for the next. But the truth is, every season has it’s own gifts to enjoy. If we are always peeking around the corner to determine what comes next, we miss the ability to be present. When we are able to pause, we notice the nuances of now. When we notice, we are thankful. When we are thankful, we tend to be more joyful.

No matter what feelings you have about fall, transitions can be challenging and include added pressures. Instead of surviving the moment, we are wise to consider ways to enjoy the now and appreciate the blessings that every season brings, remembering that no matter what we are able or not able to accomplish, we are worthy and valued apart from our performance and whether or not we reach our goals.

Photos by Beth Cath



  1. Thank you so much for these tips on how to respond optimistically to the turn of seasons. Though I do enjoy fall, it can be difficult switching gears from the emotionally relaxed summer to the stress of school work. These tips will help guide me through these first few weeks!

  2. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. I looked forward to the fresh starts and routines of the school year. I recently graduated from college, so this year is the first time I don’t have that official “back-to-school” moment. I’ve felt a little bit “off” for a while now, because regardless of the season each day blends into the next at work. Thank you Nicole, for the reminder to “plan something fun” and celebrate this season of transition.

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