Mornings are getting cooler, and the leaves have already begun to hint at their colourful splendor. For the last 23 years, September has signaled “The New Year” for me. It is where I put to bed the lazy delight of summer and begin to shore things up making preparations for our long cold winter ahead. For me September means change. It is not the traditional January 1, but September that I make New Year resolutions. Every year I vow to become organized, and keep that promise for the month of September. It’s where I take stock of my life and decide what serves me and what I am able to let go of, not unlike the leaves themselves.
I experience a touch of grief anxiety because of the change of season. I feel like freedom and joy are being pulled away from me with the end of summer and the beginning of the rigid school year. I don’t pretend that this makes sense to anyone but myself. It means that my children are not mine anymore, but belong to the world once again. I don't pretend that this makes sense, but it is how I feel, and feelings are ok. I also know that as the school year progresses, I acclimate to this strange new word, that is neither strange nor is it new after 23 years of it. What it boils down to is that change is inevitable, no matter how doggedly we try to hold on to our happy place. Joy turns to other emotions, and if it didn't would it feel as... well joyful? We have to taste the bitter to know the sweet.
Fall is the death march of summer. I prepare for it mentally, take joy in some of it apple picking, pumpkin carving, the smell of fallen leaves, the crunching sound that leaves make when you stand on them), but I'm always looking over my shoulder, knowing that the end of fall means the beginning of winter. In a much smaller scale fall is like a new beginning. New beginnings can be exciting, if it is of your choosing, but when it is thrust upon you against your will, it can be difficult. If you have not been reading into the symbolism, I am referring to loss. Loss is difficult. Sometimes the slow loss begins at time of terminal diagnosis, sometimes it comes suddenly from accident. Loss means change, and change is difficult, but change brings rebirth if you allow it.
In my grief group that I run, I ask participants to think about their life as a tree.
*The roots represent the people, activities, beliefs that ground you, keep you safe in the storm.
*The trunk is the support that holds you tall. Not all trunks are tall and straight, some grow in difficult conditions and twist and bend, but still they stand, they can still weather the storm, sometimes better than the tall trees, because they have grown in adversity and have the skillset to withstand difficult events. The trunk represents your story. Who made you who you are?
* The leaves represent things that are not constant. Green healthy leaves are the things in your life that bring you joy, that make you healthy. The leaf buds are ideas, hopes for the future, they are in transition. Coloured leaves represent things that you are now ready to let go of. These are beliefs, lies, patterns, habits that may have served you once, or maybe they never served you but you did not know how to shake them off. These are ideas, that you can allow to fall to the ground.
Take a minute and grab a paper and pencil and give it a try. Really consider what you believe in and does it still hold true today as it did yesterday. What are you ready to let go of to make tomorrow better?