On living in each season

Nearly 12 weeks ago, I set out to document 100 Days of Summer.

Daily highlights were compiled in a list and photos were added to a (now giant and needs-to-be-updated) Instagram Story in an effort to savor every bit of summer. It shouldn’t have felt tedious but it often did, and I regularly rolled my eyes at myself for committing to doing it in the first place.

But now, three months later, I have this huge list of summer memories, a 2,800-word-long reminder that I summered it up for 100 full days (almost—the full 100 days end this weekend). And, unexpected bonus, I also feel so ready for fall.

This has not been the norm, as I’ve tended to white-knuckle summer until the bitter end. Last year, on an early September day filled with cold rain, I was so mad about the sudden end of warm weather that I wondered if I should start considering a move south.

There are no such exit plans in place this year. And while several factors could be at play, I think a big reason why I’m so ready for fall is that I paid close attention to each passing summer day and appreciated it for what it was.

So I decided to try something similar for fall.

I’ll probably also roll my eyes at myself about this at some point in the near future, but whatever.

100 days was mostly an arbitrary number that covered the whole season, but as we all know, 12 months naturally break into three-month seasons. So instead of 100 Days of Fall, I’m looking at September, October, and November as a three-month block of fall—September being a transition month from summer into fall and October and November being fully fall. (If this works, I’ll do the same for the rest of the seasons: the first month of the season being a transition month, with the next two fully in-season.)

Obviously, none of this is revolutionary. Seasons already exist and we all live according to them in one way or another. We decorate and celebrate holidays and turn the clocks forward or back.

But because of the magic of simply paying attention to summer, I want to try taking it one step further. I want to make room for shifting from one season to the next, to create habits and living spaces that make sense for the season, to keep the tone that each season naturally sets—gratitude in fall, rest in winter, growth in spring, abundance in summer.

So I started with a three-month bucket list of sorts: a cumbersome, rambling inventory of every single thing I hoped to do this fall. Then I added in bigger events (trips, weddings, birthdays, etc) and smaller habits (thank you forever, Atomic Habits).

Then I cut the entire list in half, because reality.

Everything that remained was something that mattered in light of the season. So, for example, in September, I want to make the house cozier to accommodate for quickly-approaching cooler weather and more time spent indoors. In October, I want to read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat because I cook more often in the fall/winter and also because I was given that cookbook last Christmas and have yet to really make time for it, which is absurd. In November, I want to finally start using the gift of a Thrive membership and figure out a no-brainer way to keep essentials stocked so the pantry is always full, because no one wants to run to the grocery store when it’s cold and dark at 5pm. And among a few other monthly goals and daily habits, I also plan to keep writing down highlights from each day this fall. It’s a good for mindfulness and good for morale (at least in retrospect).

I put everything on paper and color-coded a calendar. Note: when you are 33 and using crayons to organize your life, you are asking your friends to laugh at you. (Mine did. Thanks, guys.) But seeing the whole season intentionally laid out like that made me feel so peaceful.

It feels less like a life plan and more like middle ground.

And in a world where everything is available all the time, where I’m constantly tempted to make the most of everything all the time, it feels really nice to only focus on what’s unfolding right here, right now.

Good Things

If you also want to color code your life and be scorned by your loved ones, here’s the simple calendar template I purchased for $4 from Etsy.

I’m still loving the series Magnolia Journal is doing this year. Fall at Magnolia Market in real life looks stunning.

Can’t say enough good things about The Farewell. Loved this letter from Director Lulu Wang.

I finished Where the Crawdads Sing in three days at the beach with my mom. It’s as good as everyone says it is.

If The Local could come to Harrisburg, I’d be so grateful. Related: The Local is where I found this beautiful sampler box of Tealeaves tea, which might quickly become part of November’s stocked pantry.

The Panthers season of All or Nothing may be the most endeared I’ve ever been to a team that isn’t the Packers, and I for sure did not see it coming. Such a fun look inside an NFL season.

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