Fall Is For...(with free printable)
Fall is my favorite season. I know I'm not alone in this because Pinterest tells me so. Living in the northeastern United States, it's a season of crisp cool air, crunchy leaves underfoot and vibrant colors above. Sweaters come out, the oppressive humidity and pesky mosquitos of the summer clear, windows are opened and the fresh air blows in. It's cool enough to gather friends around a fire, go for a hike, work outside, cuddle up with the kiddos under a blanket with their favorites fall drinks and a good book, but not cold enough to make me want to hide inside.
The smells of fall are simply hard to beat. There are so many things that I want to taste during fall that honestly I don't know if I have time for it all. Why does pumpkin only sound like a reasonable flavor for 3 months out of the year but during that window of time, it has a cult following? No. Idea. But, that mystery aside, I find myself drawn to the kitchen again. In the heat of summer I make the simplest and quickest things I can, figuring out how many times and different ways we can eat grilled chicken and veggies. (for the record— it's a lot!). Then the heat breaks and the cool air of fall pulls me back into the kitchen. I find myself pulling out my mom's apple crisp recipe and figuring out how to make a gluten free chicken pot pie. These things seem right and fitting for fall.
With the changing leaves come the fresh possibilities of a new school year and rhythm. It's the perfect time to regroup, to dream and to think through what we would like this school year to look like for my family considering our overarching goals.
If we aren't careful, we will quickly become overbooked. There are too many good things to do and be a part of! My kids are still young, just 2 and 4, so my year might look different from yours. But, I want to encourage anyone reading this, that while your specific needs may vary significantly from mine, you can still draw boundary lines and know your limits. You can say "no" to make space for the things you really want to be able to say "yes" to. I'm finding out how easy it is to get to the end of a season and wonder what happened to it. Each season comes with its strengths and limitations and it's healthy to enjoy the rhythm of that. It's a shame when we miss a season because we were so caught up in the obligations and todos that the whole thing is just a blur of obligations that we were just looking forward to being done with.
I don't want to oversimplify this— I get that there are seasons of life where something is truly amiss. We live in a fallen world with sickness, death and complicated relationships, much of which we don't have control over and impacts our day to day. But, I would dare to say that for most of us, our issue is that we are setting unrealistic expectations of what we can handle at any given time and are far overbooking ourselves. We are stretching ourselves to the point of breaking— often giving our energy away to the wrong things. Each season has a purpose, and when we miss a season and the purpose it was to serve—we miss it.
If we don't plan to pause, then our margins, our down time—the sacred moments where the busy falls away and we finally get to just be in our surroundings, will quickly become swallowed up by the obligations and to dos. If things we like to do, like visiting a pumpkin patch, baking a pie or going for a fall hike suddenly sound like one more thing on our list that we have to somehow fit in, and we find ourselves overwhelmed rather than enjoying, if we are just doing it out of obligation and because we "should"... then perhaps we are overbooked. Maybe we can't do it all. Maybe something needs to go so that we can remember the beauty around us. This is my simple proposal.
Personally, I like to have a plan, but I also like to have freedom. I get stoked at the possibility of a new season but time and time again, I have put too many things on my bucket list and too many expectations to manage. I'm learning that in order for both me and my family to be healthy, our list is far shorter than I would like for it to be, but it's HEALTHY.
Each season and every year are going to be look different for everyone. Even this year looks a lot different for us than last year.
For us, in this season, we are prioritizing commitments connected to church leadership, friendships and getting healthy. That may or may not sound like much, but when we break down what that looks like, paired with parenting, house keeping, work and extended family... that's about all all we've got space for. We won't make any other ongoing commitments beyond those so that we can have some space to enjoy the little things that this season has to offer. This doesn't mean we won't say yes to a spontaneous adventure or helping a friend, we are specifically leaving space for those things. And because I know that what I'm saying "yes" to need to be prioritized— a healthy family, marriage, community, healing my body... I can confidently say "no" to other good things I'd love to do (like a book club, gardening class, pottery class) knowing I'm making space for the best things to happen for this season.
As a little bonus, I've included a tool for you, a printable planning sheet "Fall is for..." to help you craft a plan for your fall with your "yes" and "no" lists clearly defined along with a fun bucket list for this season. Take 10 minutes and although the season is definitely underway... reevaluate what you're saying "yes" to and what obligations may need to be a "no" for right now. Ask yourself if it's a healthy amount of commitments, if you are moving at a healthy pace. Maybe your "no" looks like not rushing? Maybe it looks like stepping down from that position to you didn't feel was a good fit to begin with? Be honest, not idealistic when you're doing this. Ask yourself "do I really have the energy for this?" It's okay to not. It's better to say "no" than to find yourself fried and bitter at the end of this season.
Once you fill it out, hang it up somewhere like your fridge as a daily reminder for when the opportunities pour in. If you have a hard time sorting through this and the idea of even doing this feels overwhelming, that might be a sign that you need to take some time and think about what your overarching priorities are for you. You might be surprised at how much clarity taking 10 minutes to think through what you do and don't have space for in this season will provide for making future decisions this season! Let me know how it goes for you, I'd love to hear from you!
P.S. Here I wanted to share one of my favorite scripture passages about seasons and perspective from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
click here to download Printable