A Personal Challenge: Savor Autumn

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:

Be Present

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.

Plan Small

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.

Embrace Imperfection

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.

Be Thankful

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?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Yes… Totally yes!!! Fabulous post!!! We went on Church Camp last weekend… my worst weekend of the whole year, I totally hate every second of it and I make sure EVERYBODY knows it!!! I count the seconds till its over from when I get there… Talk about my annual bad attitude all surfacing on one weekend, every year. Well the father person mentioned about a week before that I might be spoiling everyone’s fun!!! It was just the wake-up call I needed and determined to make sure that everyone had a heap of fun… turns out by getting involved and making sure my kids got the best canoe ride and had the most fun crafting and I seeked and found out the best stories to take along… Turns out I had 35 instead of my usual 8 kids hanging round my knees. THe kids and I all had a total blast!!! And the other parents had a break. Really getting involved is key!!! Lesson learnt!!!
    se7en´s latest post: Se7en 1 is ONE!!!

  2. Wow! Thank you SO much for that post. It’s exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve been looking at my three kids lately with almost a panic in my heart that they are growing up too fast and we aren’t giving them the time and memories that I want them to have. I keep thinking I need to plan more weekends away or big memorable “somethings” but your post reminded me that I just need to truly be there…in the moment…in the sillyness…in the quiet…just BE. Thank you again. I think I’m gonna go read it again. :)

  3. This was a great post! I can relate. I spend way too much time worrying about this and that – things that seem so crucial at the moment – that it’s easy to let the fun moments with my toddler slip by. But it always amazes me what a big difference a slight shift in perspective makes to my mental health. The fact that the weather where I’m at has been awesome this week doesn’t hurt, either! Nothing like a few good walks to make everything feel better. Here’s to enjoying a wonderful, imperfect fall!

  4. Wonderful! I agree with them all. :)
    Alicia´s latest post: Ben &amp Jerrys admits its ice cream is not all natural

  5. I agree, this is a wonderful post! I have been also trying to slow down and be with my kids, there is always going to be something else to do! I love that projects and leaves don’t need to be perfect, I have been arriving at this conclusion and finding the wabi-sabi in this. I also have been focusing on putting the computer, and camera, down and just soaking up and being a part of the moment. It does go too fast (my son from my first marriage just turned 21) so I am really trying to slow down and “be” with the other kids while they are at the stages they are.
    Thank you, it’s nice to know other people strive for this as well!

    • Finding the “wabi-sabi in this” is such a good way to put it.

      People, especially parents say it all the time, but that is because it is true: this time flies. My little guy is 4 but I know that I’ll blink a few times and he’ll be 21, too! wow!

      Thanks for this comment :-)

  6. great post, Kara! Since summer is my favorite season, hands down, I often struggle with contentment more throughout the rest of the year. Thanks for your great ideas for staying in the season/moment. :)
    Nicole aka Gidget´s latest post: this moment- daddy date night

  7. cocoa in pjs outside? This is something we can totally do!

  8. I Love this Kara! Totally my philosophy too, but sometimes harder done than said.

    The word SAVOR is one of my favorites these days. It keeps coming up. Love the SUN analogy. It also brings up another favorite word: STILLNESS.

    Thank you for being so refreshing! I’m sort of looking inward this Fall and I think a bit of too much introspection can be suffocating. Thank you for the reminder to look outward, to appreciate the small things and all that is good and all that is now.

    Lovely as always! Thanks!
    Vina Barham | A Nourishing Home´s latest post: A Different Kind of Hunger

  9. Sold my camera recently. Picked up play time with kids and books to read.

  10. Everything you have said rings so true…wonderful article. In this world of blackberries, email, and constant plug-in, it’s so important to be present for our kids. They know when we’re not.

  11. Yes, right now I am really savoring Autumn, too–all 2 days of it we’ve had so far! But after a long, hot summer, I am soooo ready for fall this year and I truly want to enjoy every moment.

    On that note, I’m heading outside with the kids. We’re going to ride bikes–with our jackets on! Such a fun change from the nonstop 100 degrees we’ve had all summer.

    Thanks for the encouragement!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy´s latest post: My Love/Hate Relationship With American Girl

  12. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s seems a good time to come down from all the fun and frolic of summer but before the slow, cold of winter sets in. I love the cool, crisp evenings and collecting the colorful leaves during walks in our forest.
    Kimberly´s latest post: What Cry It Out And Sleep Training Have To Do With Birthday Parties

  13. I really needed this have 3 children ages 6 4 and 1 and they are growing so fast. my husband and I have a dairy farm and we are always so busy, don’t get me wrong it is one of the best places to have children grow up. But I keep telling my self to slow down and not worry about the farm so much and enjoy it with the kids many times this year when putting away hay I would tell kids just rid your bikes ill be done soon and they would get so bumped out so one day my husband came up with the making a fort when we were putting straw away and it was so much fun the hole familY loved it. So I made a pledge to my self this fall no matter what I am doing I will take time to do it and have fun. So thank u for the little reminder.

  14. What an awesome post! Just as timely this year as last. Thank you for sharing and making me THINK!
    Living the Balanced Life´s latest post: How productivity can lead to a more fulfilling life

  15. All good advice! We have a baby joining us in 3 weeks so our goals will be a little bit different this fall than usual. I’m looking forward to slowing down and just enjoying each other and the bounties of the season.
    Alicia´s latest post: 40 Fun and fabulous ways to celebrate fall with your children

  16. I too have the tendency to focus so much on preserving the moment (through photography or thinking about how I’ll write about it later) that I forget to actually enjoy and be present in the moment. Time is impossible to freeze, despite my best attempts. Savoring life is the only answer!

  17. Mommyx2StLou says:

    Thanks for sharing! This article may have been originally published in 2010, but it is just what I need. Right here. Right now. Sometimes the ‘work-life’ balance doesn’t seem very balanced. I needed this fresh reminder that it’s not so much about ‘what’ we are doing, but that we are doing it together – as a family. My boys just turned 4 and 5 and their curiousity and wonder surrounding the world are in full swing. This autumn, I am going to focus more on the memory we are creating and being a part of that instead of focusing on capturing that ‘perfect’ picture.


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