Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we passed the fall equinox last week.
It was accompanied by a few nights of star bright clear skies, a big, luminous full, or nearly full moon, and the cooler days and nights that signal the rollover from summer into autumn. The annual color-changing of the leaves makes this a favorite season of the year for many, including me.
Of course, I love spring when it arrives, and everything comes alive again after the cold, dreary winter. Although winter in its early days is pretty spectacular too, there's nothing to compare with the sparkling beauty of fresh snow. Winter is not my favorite season, but it does offer some of my favorite days, and I know a few people, especially skiers, who can't wait for it to start and wish it would never end. Summer, too, has its unique pleasures to enjoy. But by the time fall arrives, as it now has in Virginia, USA, I'm tired of the heat and humidity and am ready to put away the summer whites and get cozy.
Amazingly, while my half of the world is embarking on autumn and heading toward winter, the southern half is experiencing the spring rebirth en route to the days of summer abundance. Not everyone wants to live with all four seasons, but I do. That said, I know the coming of fall can signal hard times for many who suffer from the shorter days, lower sunlight, and more time cooped up indoors. Research (and personal experience) tell us that although the autumn “fall back” time change gives us an extra hour of sleep, it also discombobulates our circadian rhythms. Leaving us stressed and cranky for several days and often more. But overall, it seems we love the seasons when they are new and then gradually tire of them over time and feel refreshed when change is upon us again.
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Here are a few things I'm considering that would shake up the routine and help maximize the benefits of the changing season while minimizing the negatives.
- Permit myself to sleep a little more. Once upon a time, before artificial light, people slept when it was dark. Candles, lamp oil, fuel for the fire were all finite resources to be used sparingly. In the months with less daylight, this meant that people slept A LOT. I can't see myself sleeping 14 hours a day, but it would be in harmony with history and biology to add a little extra sleep to my nights.
- Focus on the unique pleasures of this time of year. In my part of the world, that means evening fires, hot cider, fresh bread, homemade soup, sweaters, and long walks outdoors in the cool air. Summer reading is popular, but it's never too soon to make a list of good books to help ease the way through the long evenings of the darker months. We DO have artificial light; we might as well put it to good use.
- Be on the lookout for people around me who might need a positive boost. Where and how can I add a little sunshine to someone's day?
Whatever I do, I aim to keep it simple. Overly ambitious goals or changes in routine tend to backfire. Sleep a little, breathe the autumn air both indoors and out, and find ways to be kind to those around me.
What do you do to seize the season, whether it's autumn or spring for you now?
Our podcast guest this week is Leena Nair, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Unilever. She's also the first female, first Asian, and youngest CHRO in the company's history.
We discuss why raising your hand for the most difficult jobs is one of the most important things you can do. As she says, “When was the last time you did something for the first time in your life? That's the last time you grew.”
Leena explains, “Companies with purpose last. And people with purpose thrive,” and she has the data to back it up. I hope you'll be as inspired as I was!
Thanks, as always, for being here!