It seems like every year at this time I find myself writing about the same thing - the feeling that Fall is the true New Year, the time to Begin Again.
Ironic, isn’t it? For us in the northern hemisphere, Fall brings the END of summer, and the end of the natural growth cycle. Already my once glorious flowers have begun to wither and I spy a few leaves tinged with crimson and gold. But for all that autumn brings The End of some things, it brings the beginning of school, a time I’ve always associated with the excitement of fresh starts.
This year is no different. If anything, I feel an increased anticipation to “get back to work,” as it were. Retirement is all well and good, but I’ve lately felt a call for productivity and purpose. A call to accomplish things that are important to me.
When I was a kid, I loved back-to-school season. I kept quiet about it then, because my friends simply wouldn’t understand. Now I can shout it from the rooftops - I LOVE FALL! I’m ready for the lazy days of summer to be over, ready to get back to work and routine. The difference between now and those school and work days is that I’m the one solely responsible for creating the work and maintaining the routine. It takes fortitude and creativity and discipline.
I’ve been sitting with this need to be productive all summer, trying to figure out what that means for a retired woman in her 60’s. I have music and writing and volunteer work with a local community theater. Are those enough? What do I want to accomplish in this crazy world with the time I have left? How can I make some kind of difference?
Part of the answer lies in the thing I loved most about my school days. You might think it was the books and the learning, all the trappings of academia, and those were definitely appealing. But what I most adored about going to school - the reason I cried whenever I had to stay home on sick days - was the CONNECTION. I craved being with my friends, and also with my teachers, most of whom I looked up to and respected. I craved being an active part of my own little social circle, and I craved quietly observing others from the sidelines. I needed the activity and, yes, sometimes I even needed the clamor of confusion created by a roomful of a youngsters.
I needed to be part of LIFE in the wider world.
Even though I was completely happy being an only child, even though I’ve tested as a high Introvert on any personality scale ever created, there was and IS a very important part of me that needs to be with other people, especially if we’re working together for a common goal. That’s why being a member of a musical group is so satisfying; why working on the school newspaper was such a thrill.
As I do every fall, I’ve made some Lesson Plans for myself. This year’s include (1) Returning to the habit of Morning Pages, arguably the writing habit that has been most helpful to me in the past; (2) publishing on Medium at least once a week, either on my own page or submitting to some of the larger publications; (3) getting back to playing the piano by accompanying occasionally for a local middle school; and (4) working to make the world a better place by joining Moms Demand Action, a national non-partisan group advocating for common sense gun laws.
And because CONNECTION is a key component for me, I’m looking for new ways to connect with all of you. One of the ways I want to try is by sharing short video stories on Instagram about Life in General (and my own in particular.) I’d love to have you connect with me there @becca.rowan.
Earlier this week I published a piece on Medium that looks at ways to Keep Going on my new fall projects. It’s easy for me to make plans and lists, easy for me to get started, but I often falter in the long haul. I hope to do better this year.
Putting these goals out into the world is one way to make myself accountable. So check in with me once in and while and make sure I’m still working at it, ok?
Now, tell me, does fall feel like a new beginning for you? If so, what are you beginning?