The following is by editor Kara Fleck. It originally appeared October 2010. I’d love to know: what are your personal challenges this Autumn? How will you slow down and savor the season?
Over the summer I gave myself a personal challenge: to be like the sun. Slowing down the pace changed the rest of our season, for the better. I want to carry that feeling of really savoring the current season into this Autumn.
My kids are each at these wonderful ages right now. Their young personalities just sparkle. I want to enjoy them and have fun together this season. I want to be silly together, embrace the small moments, and enjoy these children for who they are, right now, at ages two, four, and eight.
Every year, each new age brings so many changes. I cannot actually slow down time, but I can alter my priorities a bit so that I’m more present in the current moment.
Here are the things I want to do and my personal challenges for this Autumn:
Last weekend we went apple picking and I have a small confession to make: the kids had a wonderful time, but I didn’t really enjoy it.
It isn’t that I disliked going. The problem was that I was so involved with looking at everything through the lens of the camera and trying to capture the moments and making memories for the kids that I forgot to join in and live the memories.
We’re going back to the orchard soon and I need to right my wrong of last weekend: I’m handing the camera over and I’m going to be present in the moment and worry less about preserving it.
I want to feel the sun on my face, smell the apple trees, laugh with my kids, and just be with my family.
The other thing I seem to need a gentle reminder about lately is that not all memories have to come from a big event or require fancy planning. The small things are pretty wonderful, too.
My friend Eileen suggests gathering the family before bedtime some evening and heading outdoors (yes, in your pajamas) with some cocoa and blankets to gaze at the stars in the Autumn sky.
Sounds lovely to me.
The Autumn leaves on our Nature Table? They don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Our Fall crafts don’t have to turn out exactly like the pictures in the directions to be fun.
And, what better opportunity to embrace imperfection than pumpkin carving? Pumpkin carving is a little messy, a little unpredictable, and lots of fun!
I keep cutting out images of perfectly stenciled and carved jack’o'lanterns and adding them to my Halloween planner and yes, they are beautiful. But you know what? My family’s goofy grinning pumpkins with their lop-sided smiles and “lids” that never quite fit back on top are one of a kind.
I love those crazy pumpkins for all of their imperfections and they deserve a place of honor on our front porch.
Join in the Fun
Speaking of Halloween, I have decided that this year I’m not going to let the kids have all the fun: I am going to dress up, too.
I love costumes and being silly and since it doesn’t look like that long-awaited costume ball invitation is going to show up in my mailbox anytime soon, why not indulge in the merriment this Halloween? My kids would love it if their mama dressed up, too.
I need to worry a little less what the neighbors will think if I answer the door to the trick’or’treaters as The Cat in the Hat (or maybe Mary Poppins?) and just join in the fun.
I have also set a personal challenge for myself of being actively thankful this season. I have joined in with Ann Voskamp’s Gratitude Community and have been counting my blessings, with the goal being to count to one thousand (and beyond).
Some trivial things in life have been getting me down lately – things that don’t deserve my focus or my worry. I’ve been distracted by little things and not looking at the big picture. It is time to acknowledge the thousands of ways I am blessed, large and small, and focus on the joy!
Have you been distracted? Do you need to change gears and slow down? How will you and your kids savor this season? What personal goals do you have?