Guided Insights

Starbucks, couldn’t you have waited at least until school started to bring back pumpkin pie spice?  And Staples, school supplies in July? Trader Joe’s, must we be surrounded by all things pumpkin with temps hovering in the 80’s some days? And University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire, did you have to make my twins move into their dorms 10 days before Labor Day? That’s just cruel.

Why all the rush to send the lazy days of summer packing? Why are we so willing to say hello to the frenetic days of early fall when we have practically a month of summer still ahead? I realize that these premature displays of seasonal items are intended to weaken our resolve and spend money early and often. (And I admit, I am not above snapping up decorations and holiday gifts way in advance.)  But today, it just makes me sad that we seem to be okay with jumping headlong into fall without stopping to give summer a proper goodbye.

Ready or not, fall is (almost, but not quite!) here. And with it comes the prospect of new beginnings, whether at school or work, serving the community, rallying voters for the midterms, or simply taking the steps to achieve better emotional, mental and physical health for ourselves.

I had the good fortune to spend Labor Day weekend with my dear friend and occasional Communique co-author Paula Webster, an extraordinary mindfulness teacher, coach and trainer, and founder of  The Now Point.  As we recently celebrated new beginnings for our daughters headed off to college for the first time, we thought about how we, too, might greet the fall by celebrating new beginnings of our own.

  • Nourish your body with the best medicine by eating well. Push those chips, guac and ice cream aside and welcome back food that’s nourishing and delicious. Make it fun. I order several jars of Penzeys Spices at a time, simply because they make me so happy every time I open my pantry. Indulge yourself by buying as much high-quality produce as you can afford. This time of year, you might find friends whose gardens are overflowing. And in my book, it’s always a great time to invest in some really special olive oils and vinegars. I’ll also be restarting my Ultimate Rejuvenation Cleanse  program later this month, led by two amazing women who work with those who strive to be their best, strongest and most vital selves. And yes, this can actually be fun, too. (And no, it does not mean I starve. Far from it.)
  • Move it. Get back into a regular exercise routine if your summer schedule has “forced” you to take a hiatus. I like variety in my gym classes to keep things fresh (e.g., kick-boxing, Pilates, yoga, weights and walking), but have also just added Zumba back into my routine and may add a few barre classes and some Tai Chi, too, which can be so meditative and calming. (Paula runs some great classes along these lines!) Find a buddy to work out with (or to report into), if your resolve wavers. If you use an electronic device to track your fitness, record your progress and achievements each day. I keep a written journal myself. Amaze yourself.
  • Be insanely curious, and act on it. What kinds of things have you always wondered about, but never managed to find the time to learn? (At the top of my list right now are behavioral economics, soil cultivation and discovering more affordable ways to satisfy my travel urges.) This is a great time of year to check out classes through your local community education office, at local colleges, or via online offerings (many of them free). Or maybe it’s finally time to join a book club to enrich yourself with stimulating conversations. Whether your goal is to learn a practical skill, satisfy an intellectual itch, or simply keep your mind agile, you can still be constantly learning, even if you’re not in school.
  • Reconnect with people you like. With vacation time over, this is a great time to reach out, say hello and schedule time for a real get-together. Make a list of people whose company you enjoy (or those you’d love to meet), and keep it in a visible place. Make a call or send an email to at least one person each day, briefly catching up and carving out time in the near future to meet. I like to meet for a morning coffee or to take a walk, preferably somewhere restful (especially if dogs can tag along). Trips to the gym, art classes, cooking, or enjoying a relaxing dinner are also great venues to reconnect and rejuvenate important relationships.
  • Surprise yourself by doing something crazy. Do you imagine yourself drifting along on a hot air balloon or bungee jumping off cliffs? Have you dreamt of hiking around Machu Pichu or taking a cruise around the South Pole? Did you ever picture yourself tap dancing or starring in a theatrical production? You can do it! Just map out a plan that will take you there, starting with baby steps, and building up from there. Just do it. That window of opportunity won’t be open forever.
  • Give the summer a proper send-off. Say goodbye to summer only when you’re ready. Take time to think about how and when to make wardrobe switches. Leave those winter coats right where they are. If you’re lucky enough to garden, take photos while everything’s still in bloom so you don’t forget when spring rolls around. No need to start battening down the hatches for chillier weather just yet. And for goodness’ sake, resist retailers’ entreaties to start your holiday shopping early. Savor these last few days of summer. Don’t wish them away.

Just because you’re not going back to school this fall, you can still take advantage of the kind of new beginnings that so many students look forward to this time of year. Whether it’s starting a new health regimen, moving your office space to a new location, or pursuing a long-held dream, use this important transitional time to rejuvenate, re-energize and revitalize yourself, in ways both big and small.


This can be a great time of year to create (or revisit) your team charter – download this handy Team Charter checklist

Harvard Business Review cover story –Why Curiosity Matters –  October/November 2018

Become a More Productive LearnerHarvard Business Review, June 2018

Catalog of free MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) courses – Warning: You’ll want to set aside some undistracted time, given the amazing array of offerings available at no cost. Who knew???

8 Year-Round (Free) Gifts Everyone on Your Team is Sure to Love – past Communique 

Accelerate Your Learning Through Peer Roundtables – past Communique 

When Workloads are Seriously Out of Whack – past Communique

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