It felt like July and August just flew by for me this year, and as I write this, September 1st has arrived. Although the autumnal equinox is still 22 days away, fall is in the air. Now, since I live in Central Florida, you have to take that last statement with a grain of salt and the change of seasons is no exception. Fall isn’t literally in the air here until sometime in November, if we’re lucky. Occasionally we will get a whiff of fall weather in October, but it’s a crap shoot each year.
Fall IS in the air in a figurative way at the moment. The first sign was a few weeks ago when Dunkin’ released their fall lineup. I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin spice coffee drinks (I know, sacrilege!), but I adore their pumpkin donut. It’s a cake donut, perfectly pumpkin orange color and spice on the inside with a light glaze on the outside. I’m also not big on gooey frosting concoctions, so this is just sweet enough for me.
While we are on the subject of donuts…well I guess I was the one that got off on this little rabbit trail, but anyway. My favorite donut of all time is not one of the usual suspects, especially if you are a donut afficionado. It’s the Dunkin’ Old Fashioned donut. And some of you may remember back in the day, this was called The Dunkin’ Donut. It was THE donut. The OG, the G.O.A.T. In my mind, this is the donut for purists.
The Old Fashioned is a plain cake donut. And when I say plain, I mean plain. No frosting, no sprinkles, no glaze. Just a ring of slightly sweet cake batter fried to golden brown donut perfection. My husband refers to the Old Fashioned as a bagel, because in his estimation, it’s nothing like a donut, but that’s OK. We will agree to disagree. Bottom line is you won’t catch me stalking Krispy Kreme waiting for the light to go on so I can sink my teeth through a hot pocket of air and drippy glaze. 1-2 bites max. Then, poof, gone.
Coffee and donuts aren’t the only signs that fall is upon us. Our TV, which lies dormant most of the summer has come alive again with the sounds of football. Store shelves are nearly bursting with a cornucopia of leafy, spicy, pumpkiny, appley wares in hues from yellow to orange to brown. A 3-pack of pumpkin bread mix literally leapt into my cart at Sam’s Club last weekend. Friends are changing their social media photos to scenes that include sweaters, coffee mugs, leaf strewn paths, bonfires and quotes of gratitude and thankfulness. Yup, fall is in the air for sure.
Here’s Your Change
As I sat down to journal this morning, steam rising from the coffee in my Hello Pumpkin mug, I began to think about our relationship with change. We celebrate and anticipate the change of seasons, for example, with great excitement. I have a neighbor who is so excited about fall that she changed all her yard and porch décor in early August. Even before we’ve enjoyed the last of those sweet juicy summer cherries, we are looking ahead to that first pumpkin spice latte. In the fall we watch for that first cold, crisp snowfall. In the winter we watch for signs of spring and new life. And in the spring, we yearn for the hot, lazy days of summer.
When it comes to seasons, most of us welcome change. We expect it and it feels very natural to us. If you want to get Ecclesiastical about it, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We love and accept this when it comes to the earth around us. The predictable tides as we stare out over the vastness of the ocean. Full moons are viewed with awe and wonder, especially in a two full moon, blue moon month like we just had.
Keep the Change
But when it comes to ourselves, most of us are not accepting change, much less embracing it. We look at the world around us and wish for the “good old days” when life was simpler. Our bodies become sources of shame as they go through their natural life cycles. We accept that a bud will burst into a tiny leaf in the spring. That leaf will grow strong and flourish in the summer. By the fall, the mature leaf begins to change colors and growth slows to a stop. And by winter, the leaf has withered, fallen and been repurposed to be useful in its next iteration.
I read an Instagram post recently that had a slow burn effect on me. I loved it when I read it, but it kept coming back to me. It felt like a thought that deserved more attention. The quote was, “Reinventing myself vs trying to recreate what I was…that version is long gone…life becomes so much easier.” The post showed a video of a 50-something woman lifting weights and with that we could easily infer that she is not trying to get back to a body from her youth that may now be unattainable.
For me, the quote took on a more spiritual meaning and the author likely had that in mind as well. I thought about how I have always had the tendency to fight whatever season I was in. In my spring, bud stage, I yearned to be that big shiny green leaf; strong, beautiful and living its best life, with purpose.
My green leaf stage wasn’t as great as I expected. In fact, I felt like one of those leaves that struggles to unfurl gracefully out of the bud. If you’ve ever coddled a small palm tree, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The decorative palms we have all grow in a fairly similar fashion. A smooth shoot pops out of the middle, grows tall, then unfurls to reveal a fully grown, gorgeous frond.
Occasionally we’ve had issues where there is a broken frond or a frond that’s trying to grow, but it gets stuck. I’ve had to do a couple of what I call “palm frond c-sections” in my time to keep things growing. Cutting away whatever it is that’s keeping the baby frond from emerging. In the process, the baby frond sometimes suffers a few injuries, but being released from what was holding it back, allows it to continue to grow.
Growing through the Change
I think that’s why my green leaf stage felt so hard. Just when I’d get some momentum in my growth, I’d come up against something that kept me from continuing on. I’d have to remove the obstacle, often injuring myself in the process, before what felt like beginning all over again. But it wasn’t really starting all over. Looking back, my green leaf stage was really a series of growth spurts. And the obstacles I overcame along the way, even though I didn’t come through unscathed, made my growth stronger and more meaningful.
Now as I’m solidly in the autumn of my life, I’m a little sad that my green leaf days are behind me. But also, a little relieved. Those days were exciting, yes, but also pretty exhausting and stressful. This stage feels less about growth and more about refinement. Slowing down and savoring life a bit more. Adding rich hues to the palette that color my existence. Knowing that winter is coming and I will one day join the many leaves before me falling onto, eventually disappearing back into the earth.
I can almost see the next spring season peeking over the horizon and I’m honored to play a part in fueling and perpetuating new growth, this ongoing cycle of change in such a simple, yet profound way.
Betsy is a certified life coach and blogger who helps midlife women find satisfaction where they are now and inspiration to go after their big goals.
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