This week is my back to school week. There is no literal school involved at all, I no longer work in a school and my own school days ended 30 years ago. Nevertheless, this time of year fills me with the anticipation of a new start, so my thoughts are turning to new challenges.
Which is in itself a challenge as I am trying to not take on more things, but to create space in my week, where there is nothing scheduled. So classes in machine embroidery or ceramics are not appropriate – however tempting they may be.
Instead, I am turning back to all the things that have been abandoned over the summer.
I lifted the lid on the piano last night for the first time this summer and am committing to a lot more practice this term. The laptop has come out this morning, and typing this blog feels like heading back to a good routine after such a prolonged break from it. The end of this week sees various Scout meetings to plan new challenges and I have an autumn of Scout training ahead of me as I really start to get into a new role. I have rejoined a book group I had taken a break from, the next book to read has been ordered from the library.
My new term will not contain anything new, but picking up the things I let drop over a long summer feels exciting anyway – after all I know I love doing all these things. Children’s return to school may involve a new school, teachers or subjects, but ostensibly they are heading back into a familiar routine, so my back to school is not too far from reality. Now, all I need is some new stationery and a new bag…
I made it through September. I feel a real sense of jubilation at that fact. September is always the hardest month. It is a month of transition from the endless days of summer to the full days of autumn. The mornings are very different to August mornings. Mornings are important to me, as I am sure is abundantly clear from this blog.
Lots of my social and voluntary groups take an August break and then we all try and catch up in September. The challenges we were able to hide from in August suddenly take centre stage again. The teachers start putting pressure on parents to ensure their children are all top of the class. Countdowns to Christmas pop up on my social media feeds – seriously they do, I have a Christmas-obsessed family.
Even the news becomes more serious again, I feel less able to pretend it’s all going to be ok. And as for work – those gentle hours of August where I have the time to think before responding, where I have the space for a bit of creativity – all gone and replaced by more emails and more demands on my brain than I can possibly cope with. And not enough space in my day to stop and work out which fire to fight first.
I also added to September some amazing family weekends and a week’s work travel to Rome, as well as another two weeks of travel in UK for work. What I have abandoned are my friends and Scouting. Which is why I now feel a joy at the new month. Everything that I got wrong last month can be put right in October. To all those who have not seen me for a month, or who are waiting for something from me – it’s a new month. All shall be well. I shall once again be efficient and available. Here’s to blind optimism induced by an arbitrary dating system.
I am feeling the pain of the longer nights, reduced sunlight and lower temperatures of autumn. Partly because autumn in the UK seems to have happened very quickly and has involved a lot of rain. After a long hot summer the change seems to be harder to deal with.
The other part of the problem is that I don’t think I have a particular “autumn mode”. I do enjoy autumn with its colours and its dramatic weather, but those are fairly passive things. Spring is about starting off the new year outside – clearing the garden, deciding what plants we may need to plant. Summer is about relishing the light and fresh air and being outside at every opportunity. Winter is about relishing the cosiness of home, about making the most of candles and lamps and warm blankets.
I don’t have that short hand enjoyment of autumn, so I find myself floundering. I suspect that it is the sheer overwhelming shock of September which meteorologically seems to contain summer and winter combined. My instinct is to start to wind down in autumn and prepare for the more inside existence of winter and yet September is a month of winding up. Even if you do not have a school child or teacher in the house, there is no escaping the post-summer ramping up of activity and the ‘new year’ feeling of September. That is at odds with the instinct to prepare for hibernation.
Maybe I need to stop thinking of September as part of any season, it is a month like no other, by far the busiest month in any year. One of the most joyous due to a plethora of family birthdays. One that feels like a new start and gives all the opportunities of January.
The weather’s a bit rubbish, but I need to learn to enjoy the excitement of not quite knowing what tomorrow will bring. This could be why those more keen on fashion than I, get very excited about ‘transition pieces’?
Here’s to relishing a month of possibility and change and fulness.