There's something hypnotic about nature's transition into autumn–from the first chill in the air to the first falling leaf. I met and fell in love with my husband 11 autumns ago, in fact, and every year since I tingle with anticipation about being lured back into its gorgeous trance.
About a week ago, I drove to my local market on the outskirts of Nashville for a few household items, only to accidentally–and prematurely–commence with my beloved season. Half an hour later, I fled those doors with an overflowing cart of autumnal flair.
My arsenal was obnoxious, and boasted cans of pureed pumpkin, apple cider mix, disposable Halloween-themed coffee cups, a soy wax pumpkin pie candle and quirky Halloween notepads. I meandered through the parking lot, under the hot 90 degree sun, nearly losing my deodorant, and then gleefully loaded my car with my newfound bevy of fall delights, all the while pretending to be wooed by the autumn breeze. Despite the reality of traipsing through a furnace.
At the time of this writing, the gates of September are drawing nearer, but have yet to part. Summer is in its final act, but hasn’t taken its final bow. In other words, fall remains in dress rehearsal. And I’m an exuberant participant.
I'm not alone in my fall obsession, though. You already know this; otherwise you probably wouldn’t have made it this far. I don’t know about you, but my Instagram feed boasts a wealth of evidence that, year after year, many of us have begun chanting for autumn’s arrival long before we’re satisfied with our beach days and tan lines.
We dream about it and pine for it. We find ourselves seduced by fantasies of curling into corners with a cozy, rapturous novel, warming our hands over bonfires, wandering through corn mazes, scavenging for pumpkins and warming our flushed faces over mugs of whipped deliciousness.
A recent survey revealed that more than half of Americans admit to feeling most blissful and hopeful during the fall, and pine for the season for months in advance.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? I wonder: why is fall so feverishly celebrated, so desired, so revered? Why do we ache for it in a way that we don’t crave the other three seasons? What are we–this coven of fall enthusiasts–so eager to anchor?
Is it the cooler temperatures that come after having nearly suffocated for months, and scorching our flesh on the summer concrete? The explosion of amber and magenta foliage in our city parks and countryside? The earthy, layered garments? The return of velvet? The plush decorative pumpkins strewn about our living rooms? The raucous of football resounding throughout homes, bars and stadiums? Halloween's energizing invitations to try on far-fetched personas for a night or two? The goosebump-inducing exchanges of ghost stories? The cause for paranormal investigations?
Maybe. But it’s so much more than that. Fall houses timeless invitations of enchantment and remembering–ones that transcend its most commonly shouted reasons for celebration. And I think humans instinctively know this. It awakens something within us that’s sacred, tribal and otherworldly.
Fall is a romance… and a reminder that there’s beauty in every undoing.
First, let’s ponder the joys of summer. It’s a fun-loving celebration in the open air–one that asks to strip away our inhibitions. It’s a bright and confident cocktail. It asks us to be cool, show up and make a splash. But, fall is a call back to the deeper hollows of self. It’s a time for intimacy, introspective and reflection. It lures you back toward the window seat of your soul and points you toward gorgeous, meaningful frames. And there’s something magically potent and comforting–perhaps, essential–about that.
So, while summer, with its backless dresses, street fairs and tropical fruit salads, might be a tempting vixen, fall is a charming hand that asks to whisk us toward the timeless treasures within ourselves. It’s an invitation to slow dance. To reconvene with our sense of childlike wonderment. It’s a return to the root. And I believe it’s nature’s ultimate act of romance.
Make no mistake about it, fall is a gorgeous departure–a withdrawal from what was and might not need to be any longer. It encapsulates the beauty of a slowing down, reassessing, unfurling, releasing and - ultimately - drawing nearer to that which serves our future selves. There’s no mystery here; fall is a reminder that even nature is exquisite when it's falling apart–when that which was once in fragrant bloom is now dying.
In every stage of our lives, we’re discovering and learning more of who we are. Being human is a journey of becoming. We cycle through seasons of evolving, unraveling and restructuring. Some seasons are painful, some are light and quiet, and some are joyous. Some ask us to expand, some float, and some force us to contract. But, thrilling or not, all are powerful in their own right.
When something dies, it often summons emotions of disorientation and fright. We might want to hang onto what we know. But every ending is sacred in some facet, even if grievous, because it makes way for something new to be born.
This means we can’t always be in bloom. When an aspect of ourselves or a relationship or an era falls apart, we’re given the opportunity to gather the wisdom from that experience and channel that energy toward building something new. Even if it hurts a little…or a lot.
We understand, then, that falling apart isn't always a horror at all. Rather, it presents a harvest of revelation and self-actualization.
Last night, at a pre-birthday bash thrown for me by one of my life-long friends (I’m an August Virgo, in case you’re curious), I received a card from another friend. Inside, she wrote, “Here’s to not looking in the rearview mirror because we are going forward and not back!”
She had no idea how timely those words would land for me. Because as this fall nears, I, along with nature, am in a season of beautifully frightful transition. In recent years, I’ve channeled most of my creative and intellectual energy and sense of fulfillment toward magazine and online media content. And I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s given me a resume I’m proud of and enjoyed building.
But it’s time for something different. This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing and reporting for magazines anymore; I of course will. But most of my creative electricity, going forward, will be reserved for my first hardback book, which is a massive undertaking that I'm in the process of creating and is, I believe, a supernatural assignment.
And, as it happens, this will swing open doorways of opportunities that might look and feel a bit differently than those of my past. It’s time to just let it happen. Even if I’m a little scared.
As for you, I ask that, as this fall season unfolds, you consider all that you need to release. Like, for example, the sticky pattern you keep on recycling and repeating. The one that tricks you into saying “yes” when you want to say “no,” because you shiver at the thought of disappointing someone. The one that asks you to betray yourself over and over again, just so you’ll keep on being met with a smile and an invitation to the party.
If this resonates at all, there might be a part of you that needs to be laid to rest, for good. Because, as scary as it may seem to show up in the world differently, the real horror lies in the refusal to correct something that keeps you trapped in a loop of discontentment and self-denial.
In essence, if something doesn’t serve who you’re striving to become, it needs to be stamped with an expiration date. Fall is the perfect opportunity to go deep within the caverns of your heart, mind and spirit, and explore whatever that means for you.
Because if nothing ever died, it would never matter that anything was ever born. And, too, every time something ends, it offers foreshadowing of eventual bloom. This is life’s promise.
…so examine the dead leaves in your life and let them fall.
There’s something deeply comforting about watching leaves fall, don’t you think? It's an organic release. So, again, when you look at your life, you might ask some things of yourself.
Sit down with a journal and ponder some questions:
Is there anything in my life that needs to be freed from my branches?
Is there anything unnecessarily weighing me down?
What things are taking up precious space that could be taken up by things that are more energizing, inspiring and nurturing?
Are there any habits or relationships that are standing in the way of gaining the clarity I need? Who or what am I living for?
Are my daily actions aligned with the life I dream about?
And remember; it’s not necessary to be spiteful or vengeful in your process of letting something or someone go. You don't have to slam any doors, cast any spells, mass-delete any pictures or burn any old love letters. You don't have to badmouth the boss, demonize the friend’s character or set fire to any bridges.
Endings often hold negative connotations, but the truth is that many are powerful acts of love. Because if an entanglement or a pattern is weighing you or someone else down, or siphoning anyone’s happiness, the only worthwhile option is to either re-conceptualize and reorganize it…or release it.
You might even say to yourself, "How lovely you are as a part of my story. How great that you once meant something to me. But now it’s time for this chapter to fall away so that I can write a new one and become who I feel led to be."
Whatever habit, relationship or venture in our life that feels dead is already... dead. Even if you’re trying so hard to deny its expiration. What isn't feeding you isn't fueling you. What’s hindering you will eventually serve to haunt you.
Which is also to say, those stale attitudes, fruitless ventures, limiting beliefs and moldy, old worries have no more use for you. Purge those skeletons from your closet. See those ghosts for who and what they are, and lovingly send them on their way to the other side.
Because fall is the time to see your power reflected back to you in the beauty of its sweet release.
©2022, Lacey Johnson, LJ Media, LLC
**No portion of this content is to be used without credit to its owner, and a link back to laceyjohnson.com.
**If you're craving a deep-dive into this subject matter, and would love for someone to hold your hand and walk through the fire with you, head on over to Amazon and grab my book, Radical Life Renovation: Heal the Past, Reclaim Your Power & Build a Future You Love.