September has always heralded great sadness and, simultaneously, tremendous joy to me. The month when children return to school or university, after the long, lazy, days of summer. Parents return to work after stealing time with their families to reset and recharge.
The carefree summer days seem to be evaporating before my eyes. The sunflowers that were planted, loved, watered and eventually measured bow their heads. Noticing that I switch the living room lights on at 8:15 as opposed to 9:30, the slight chill of the evenings and the dew on the grass in the mornings. Nature’s way of signalling to us the subtle passage of time as we head towards autumn and all it’s colour.
Evidence of this change is visible on the high street with school uniforms centre stage. New shoes are fitted and purchased; name tapes are plastered on everything from blazers to sports socks and everything in-between. New gum shields arrive, haircuts are undertaken and the pink or blue dye has to be erased before the return to school.
When my children left for university it was less about clothes and hair cuts more a collection of stuff! So a family trip to Ikea ensued to purchase duvets, sheets, pots and pans and new laundry baskets. I think the laundry basket was a mum purchase to ensure they never bought laundry home! To the credit of both my children they never did!
Parenting isn’t easy, that old adage, ‘That children don’t come with a manual’ is so true. Back in the 1980’s my September sadness began to creep through our house. My brother and I returning to boarding school, my parents trying to remain busy and not giving into tears. Everyone was aware of the shifting plate tectonics, tipping us off balance, nudging us towards the inevitable return to school. For them it was the emptiness of our home, not hearing about our day and setting the table for only two.
I was excited about catching up with my friends, playing the new cd’s we had, sharing the goodies in our tuck boxes on our first night in our new dorm. Conversely, as a close family, I would miss seeing my parents spontaneously dance together. A song would play on the radio and they would just look at each other and lose themselves. Pure joy to watch as a child, a memory that always makes me smile. A melee of emotions playing out internally whilst carrying out the practical task of packing everything into a car no one wanted to get into!
These simple shifts in season, tied in with emotions and the passage of time have been hardwired into the brain. So although my children are grown up and working I still have these symptom’s. Surely then it is now about how I harness these feelings. In August my youngest son gave me a book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and it resonated so deeply with me. Here is his TED Talk Really worth a watch and is only 13 minutes long.
It was yet another light-bulb moment for me as a mindfulness educator and MBSR teacher. What if there was no noise? What if I could control the noise more effectively? Was it indeed the right time for a digital detox? I think so starting with #scrollfreeseptember. Bring it on. (The results of my month without social media will be posted on the 1st of October.)
Excuse me for going off piste in exploring the idea of a digital detox. I‘m back on track in my quest to undo the hardwiring of my September sadness; or at least adjust my mind-set. So I was interested to read this article in the Huffington Post that suggests 9 top tips to do just that, here are a few;
- Set goals between now and the end of the year.
- Reset your tech and how you use it.
- Make time for yourself, 10 minutes a day is a good start.
- Get your finances in order.
- Book a holiday, or time away, with friends to recharge.
Making some notes from the article above, I revisited my vision board to explore what might shift my September sadness. There were several goals I had forgotten, as well as reminding myself of how much I had already achieved in 2019 with things like my sketching challenge. To realise the outstanding goals will require me enlisting the help of others to ensure that I succeed.
As an internationally accredited coach, I know how important external support and accountability helps us to realise our goals and grow. Due to illness and lack of time I have let my fitness level drop, so a PT has been enlisted to whip me back into shape. I want to be as fit on the outside as I am on the inside. Indeed paying for the expertise of other professional’s has filled me with a new vigour and less malaise. Next…
Breaking the norms of having to be on all social media platforms for my business starts today. The constant flag waving in a mighty sea full of flags is exhausting and if you watched Dr. Cal Newport you will know why I am taking this step. So a social media guru has been marshalled to my personal army and already I feel lighter. There is a pleasure in working collaboratively, sharing and seeing things from a different perspective. Another minute adjustment to my September sadness but still a positive mind-set shift.
Encouraged by my investment of time in the simple re-wiring and re-writing of the September sadness code has taught me that I am not alone. On some level everyone is experiencing that ‘back to school ‘ feeling yet they may not even notice it. However with a nudge in the right direction it can become a celebration of past successes and a setting of simple goals to see use through to the season of good cheer!
Remembering that all our feelings make us and shape who we are is a great lesson. Although the sunflower has bowed it’s head, the new seeds will be sown, as will my own seeds for a successful September.