When I was little, my mother warned me that one should never wear white shoes after Labor Day.
In addition to saving me from this fashion faux pas, she was schooling me in the seriousness of the new season. September meant it was time to take up our studies again and focus on work.
In the nearly sixteen years that I’ve been a mother, I’ve felt the separation of seasons keenly. Every summer I let go of treasured time to myself, abandon my daily routine, and give myself over to family responsibility. But then in the fall, I miss everyone terribly as they trudge back to school and work, and I have to start all over again managing my unstructured time.
In August, I try to prepare myself for first week of school.
While Shira gathers school supplies and reading lists, I make a plan to re-enter my work.
But every year that plan fails. Every year I have to remind myself what it takes to re-enter the bubble of creative work.
This year I’ve devised a list of what it takes to transition to the fall. I hope it helps you this season or any time you find yourself entering a new phase of work or life.
For most of the summer, our eyes are on our children and/or on travel. Then the school year begins and suddenly we have to make an about face.
We need time to adjust to the new point of view. Body and mind need to catch up.
I try to get into the studio everyday, but I don’t push. I have some things I want to get done, but mostly I’m getting used to being there, redirecting my mind toward my manuscript.
REST AND RENEWAL
By the end of the summer, I’m usually desperate for time to myself. I want to hit the ground running. But the truth is I’m tired. For one thing, I’m not used to waking up with the alarm. But also, I’ve been entertaining the kiddo for nearly three months.
I allow myself to start my days slowly, take regular naps, and get body work.
Sometimes I do the girly thing and get my hair done and maybe a pedicure.
Anything to let the muse know she is getting the TLC she needs to come out and play again.
Reading gets me back into story and language. It reminds me of the whole enterprise of writing. I also try to get to an art museum or gallery, something to stimulate the senses. You might also browse a bookstore or go to the arthouse matinee.
Put yourself in the mind of art. Wake up the muse and give her some nourishment.
In May my days ran like clockwork. I had my daily practices, my Pomodoro work schedule, my post-lunch yoga nidra nap, my afternoons for business. At the end of all that, I picked up Shira from school, put in a load of laundry at home, then got off my feet until it was time to make dinner.
That worked well for the spring, but I need to listen for what will work this fall. I’ve been reading first thing in the morning this week, then writing practice and meditation, and then a little bit of work on my manuscript. I’m thinking that might stick, but I’m still waiting to see.
Once I feel like I’ve got a rhythm, then work runs more smoothly.
One reason I can’t jump in with both feet the first day of school: I need to set new goals. Goals cannot be random and they can’t come from an outside source (although deadlines are nice). I need time to think and see where I am.
- What are reasonable goals for the season?
- What can I hope to accomplish between now and the winter holidays?
- How can I divide that into smaller, manageable goals?
- How great will it feel to get this piece of work one?
What is common to everything on this list? The need to slow down.
A few months ago, I wrote about the Beach Boys lyric, Kokomo, “We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow.” That is the recipe for transition time. The change comes suddenly, but it takes time and patience to adjust.
As always, I’d love to hear your techniques for transition time, either in the comments section of the blog or by replying to this email.