Fall is my favorite season.
It’s around this time of year that my body finally has its fill of warmness and I retreat to the furthy comfort of lap blankets, Smartwool socks, and shoving my feet underneath those whom I feel closest to.
It’s a season that lends itself to curling up and thinking. The crisp morning air and wet, blackened leaves give me permission to pull my arms and legs into to my body. To gather up and inventory all my extremities that have been blowing around in the summer wind for four months. If summer is the most active of seasons, then autumn is the most reflective.
And that suits me just fine.
This time of year gives me permission.
Not that I need it. #introvert
Yesterday, I took an emotional/mental inventory of how I’m doing.
I function with a constant background hum of anxiety. The doctor tells me it’s due to an overactive imagination. I usually drink my water room temperature and watch the same movie every night (the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, to be exact—it’s on Amazon Prime—if you need something to watch compulsively to wind down). When I hurt inside, I need outside to be quiet, less stimulating, more predictable.
I have been drinking water with ice in it, and a few weeks ago, Seth and I finished Stranger Things; these are silent indicators as to how I’m doing. My parents watch my boys one day a week, and this week, buzzed on half-caff, I wrote and lunched and voice memoed, fitting it all in to a space of three hours before I went home and read library books with Ell in a tent in the front yard.
That day was my last hurrah before pulling my arms and legs in.
Don’t you just revel in it?
I went to a MOPS meeting a few weeks ago where they asked us to say the thing we most liked about ourselves. The woman in front of me said that one of the things she liked most about herself was that she wore sunscreen every day. I said I liked that my inside world is as big or bigger than my outside world.
Fall is a time for calling things up to the surface and looking at them. And not casting judgement on them. But merely sitting with oneself and feeling the backs of your knees against a chair or how sometimes it feels good and tickley when you lie perfectly still and let the bathwater creep up the back of your neck when you’re filling up the tub.
Here are some of my things that have risen to my surface. This is by no means a complete list, and it’s in no particular order:
- Portlandia is what I watch when I don’t want to think about anything at all. The Nina and Lance bits are my favorites.
- I will finish a book at some point. It’s still rising to my surface of my overall ocean of life.
- Many of my victories in life are not quantifiable. I haven’t held an elected position (which sounds like hell to me) or built a bridge or gotten a building named after me or anything. Many of my achievements are internal, and even though they’re not as obvious as other external achievements, they’re just as precious to me. Others might never see them, but I see them. And that’s enough.
- I have, in general, entered into a stage of life that is not as flashy and as easy to compliment. “You’re a great mom” doesn’t sound as good to me as, “I saw you on stage, and you were great.” I have accepted the life stage I’m in because I allow myself small pockets of time in which I can still act like a child myself. In overalls from 1997.
- I am a 4 on the enneagram personality test. And I very much embody fourness. I want my every day to be transformed into extraordinary, and so it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around this stage that is, by nature, ordinary and constant. I am making small decisions both to accept the ordinary as actually very extraordinary as well as to infuse our simple days with whimsy—hence the tent in the backyard in which Ell and I read Charlotte’s Web and ate shredded mozzarella out of a bag together.
- I don’t have control over much. Not of what bubbles up to the surface of my mind or even of my body. So I definitely have no control over others. Or their thoughts. And this is the most freeing thing of all.
- I have been going to Pilates consistently for about two months now. I have also been doing personal leg and butt (because it’s melting down the backs of my legs) exercises on my own for that duration. I can feel my body changing. And this is encouraging. When I want to quit when it gets hard, I tell my body that this is a labor of love and that I believe in it. And then I thank it for allowing me to do all the things it lets me do.
- This is the first time in my life that I have chosen me. I ask myself, “What do I like? How do I feel about that?” And then I listen carefully to all parts of who am I to answer. I have to really listen so I don’t miss the answer because the voices can be so thin and small. But they’re getting stronger. Or I’m better at listening.
- If you leave bread flour for too long in your cabinet, you have a higher likelihood of developing pantry moths. In an effort to get rid of them, you must clamber up a ladder to where your ceiling meets the wall and smash as many larvae that have cocooned up there as you can find. You then spend your days smearing moth dust all over your cabinets, walls, and curtains whenever you find the adults.
- I am more equipped than I have ever been to sidestep the potholes I have tripped into so many times before. I am stronger than I think I am.
Photography by Elliott Schaeffer