Isn’t all of life a lesson, when you treat it as such?
Well here are a few of things I’ve learned or been reminded of by slowing down and noticing more this autumn…
1. I am mostly a summer person, but I do actually enjoy Autumn as well, when I remember to look for and celebrate the good.
The thing is that really I am just such a ‘summer person’. I love the sociability that the warmer weather brings… the BBQs, the beer gardens, the hanging out at the park, the trips to the local beach, the way the kids on our street all hang out playing whilst the parents stand by and chat.
But sadly, our British summers are just so short and always feel gone too soon, replaced seemingly overnight, for dark, cold mornings driving into work and dark, wet evenings driving home again.
The truth is that I don’t really like winter, or autumn either because it’s the sign that it’s coming… But I can’t afford to spend half of every year feeling negative or wishing I was somewhere else, like somewhere with sunshine and a beach.
So this autumn I decided to embrace the fall and the winter months ahead and all that’s good in them, like bonfire night, and Halloween dressing up, and making warm hearty stews, and trips to the pumpkin patch too.
Because isn’t this the best way to get through any season in life that we don’t want to go through? Instead of resisting it, feeling resentful, complaining, or wasting time wishing for something else, I have been choosing the act of celebrating the good and choosing joy in these moments … and it has turned out to be the most fun fall that I can remember!
2. Personal vulnerability is the key to writing the best content.
As an amateur writer and blogger I guess I’ve probably known this for some time, but earlier this summer and at the start of the fall I blogged on some very personal experiences, including two miscarriages that I experienced earlier this year, and these pieces of writing have had the most amazing response.
So I guess I was reminded of this fact again. There is simply nothing more powerful than sharing your own story, because it gives other people permission to say #MeToo and share their own stories too.
3. Better to invest in a few expensive wardrobe items, than lots of cheap ones instead.
Again, maybe this seems like common sense to many people, but I’ve had a tendency to be drawn to quantity over quality in my wardrobe in the past, particularly when money has been tight.
But then I’ve often found that my wardrobe is full of items that never get worn, because they bobble up or fall apart quickly after a couple of wears, or I just never really loved them that much.
So this fall I had a big clear out, and I invested in just a few key, quality winter items instead; some wardrobe staples that I hope will see me through several years coming, such as some Kurt Keiger leather boots, a couple of warm thick jumpers, and a really lovely winter coat too.
And the great thing is that not only is it more environmental to buy just a few items that are well made over fast fashion that doesn’t last two minutes, but it’s also easier to choose and outfit in the morning because my wardrobe is full of things I actually love !
4. Date night can be hard with young children – but lunch dates and half days can really work well.
My husband and I are both full time employed, and also parents to a little person, which means that getting quality time together can be hard. Babysitters are hard to come by and expensive, so we have kind of fallen into a pattern of mostly socialising separately and doing weekly date nights at home instead.
However, the problem with this is that by the time we have got my son to bed, we’re too tired to do much more than cook and then eat together, in front of the TV, which is hardly quality time!
But this Autumn we’ve struck on a new idea that seems to be working well; meeting up for lunch in the city centre once every week or two during our lunch breaks when we can, to have adult conversation – uninterrupted – over our other love, which is good food.
We also both booked a half day of annual leave from work which was a total revelation too; we went to the cinema which we haven’t done together in living memory, and then for an early tea, whilst our son was still in nursery. And although its not the kind of thing we can do every week, it’s something we’ll definitely be trying again.
It’s so important to invest into good fun together as a couple, as well as with the whole family, for the sake of the health of your marriage.
5. I really love reading as well as writing, now that I’ve finally found the time for it again…
I’ve always loved to read, but after having my son three years ago, I lost all energy and appetite for it. My concentration span was suddenly poorer, my home suddenly busier and noisier, and nowadays I rarely have the time to give a book a decent go. So I tend to be drawn towards blogs and essays or short news articles instead…
It’s only very recently that I have found enough head space to delve into new fiction and non-fiction works again, but as I have, I’ve found a whole new passion for reading growing and lots of fresh food for thought and inspiration. It turns out that reading is good for my soul.
And I have been reminded that the odd chapter, squeezed in here and there, somewhere between cooking the dinner and bath time, is almost always worth the effort it takes to attempt.
6. I can cope with Autumn much better, when we book a holiday in …
Following on from point two, I noticed that this year and last year, the period between September and Christmas seemed shorter and far more manageable… and we took a long weekend, somewhere warmer and abroad, during both.
Last year, it was thanks to a good friend’s wedding being held in Morocco, and in fact this year, we actually took two! A long weekend in Paris visiting family and Disneyland (in that order, I promise!) where we were blessed with a late summer heat wave during mid-September, and also a weekend visiting our new baby niece in Seville, Spain at the end of October was a real gift as well.
Because it turns out that a short Autumn mini-break abroad is great for chasing away the winter blues… who knew !?! Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing my friends, when you live in one of the greyest parts of Europe, but this year I seem to have found a cure!
7. Quality time with my best girlfriends is absolutely crucial
Again this is something that I easily let slide when life gets busy with work and kids, but at this time of year I always end up spending more quality time with close friends, both those who live close and those who’ve moved far away …
An overnight city break with three of my favourite girlfriends who once lived close but now live far away, a meal out with mum friends who live in my post code, or a gig with an old friend who was just passing through… all of these things have been really good for my soul.
I think that it’s so easy to let your everyday routine swallow you up whole, and suddenly months and months have passed by and you realise that you haven’t called, met up, or been in touch for quite some time. But some long-distance relationships are simply too important to be relegated to the Christmas card list just yet…
Often I find I am already too overloaded in my here and now to even think about planning meet ups in the diary ahead, but whenever I do, I am reminded that it’s always, always worth it – whatever the effort and cost.
8. Amazon Prime is a godsend at this time of year for a simple, hassle-free lead up to Christmas
I so, so want to boycott online shopping and choose to only shop local, from an ethical point of view. Because I really hate how amazon and other major online stores are killing our local community high streets and sending retailers out of business.
This year alone has seen the decline of House of Fraser department store, Toys R Us, and Mothercare amongst those disappearing forever from the landscape of our cities and towns … and I hate how I am contributing to that. And all the unnecessary packaging too.
But oh my gosh, it’s just so easy and convenient, and it is really saving my life this year! Because instead of dragging my son through rainy streets and crowded stores, with the inevitable tantrums that follow when I tell him that no, he can’t have everything in the store that peaks his interest, I’ve researched and ordered all of my gifts online after he’s tucked up in bed instead.
I want to hate it, but the truth is I love it so, because everything is all just a few clicks away, and delivered to my door the next day… And I even get to watch the latest amazon prime show exclusives and lots of Christmas movies, as I go…
And maybe when my family is a bit older, I will be able to return to the moral high ground again, but for now, Christmas shopping with Amazon Prime is absolutely saving this busy, working mum’s sanity!