This is surely the strangest September most of us have ever lived through. What will this Fall bring to our lives, to our country, to our world? No one knows. Uncertainty is the only thing that is certain right now.
Maybe you’ve lost your job or you’re trying to work from home (and it’s a real adjustment!). Maybe you’ve got kids and you’re worried about their health and their education. Maybe you live alone, your social life has shrunk, and you’ve become increasingly isolated. Whatever your situation, this period in our shared history is hard. Full-stop.
For me, it was only after my daughter finished school in June and summer began that I realized how completely exhausted I was. Depleted was the word I used when talking to a friend. I hadn’t fully understood how much work had gone into holding everything together: monitoring home schooling schedules, managing my business, keeping the household running, and making sure everyone was okay.
The last one—“making sure everyone was okay”—was actually the hardest part. Why? Because everyone wasn’t okay. We were all suffering in our different ways. And as a sensitive person—an empath—I was feeling everyone else’s feelings and trying desperately to make everything better. But the situation was not one that could be solved. It still isn’t.
Which is why I’m writing this.
Life has shown me time and time again that when I feel called to write about something it’s because others are struggling with the same thing. So, if you are also feeling overwhelmed and depleted from the last six months, anxious about what this Fall might bring, and not sure how to move forward, I want you to know you’re not alone.
I also want to remind you that although it may be harder than ever before to find the time and energy to take care of yourself, it’s also never been more important.
It’s the oxygen mask metaphor all over again—we have to put on our own before we can help anyone else put on theirs—but in all the current fear and uncertainty, it’s easy to go back to old patterns of placing everyone else’s well-being before our own. The thing we forget is that showing up for others in a reduced and stressed capacity isn’t really all that helpful.
Back at the beginning of summer, it became obvious that I was no longer being a calm, stable, helpful parent, partner, and person. I was a mess. When I peered inside and actually took a few minutes to connect with myself, here’s what I found I was craving:
- time alone/quiet
- a digital detox
The guidance was clear. Time alone in a quiet place doing simple things was needed. I cleared a five-day block in my schedule, rented a little off-grid cabin on a lake, and packed a bag of books. There were only two rules I made for myself: relax and turn off the phone. What ensued was a lot of reading, swimming, kayaking, napping, and watching the birds.
It was a massive reset, one that I desperately needed. I felt my energy and my creativity return. I felt like myself again.
Those days away ended up informing the rest of my summer. I became more mindful of how much time I spent on my devices and what I was ingesting in terms of news and social media. I became more permissive with myself and how I was feeling; resting when I needed to and letting myself cry. I also re-focused on gratitude for everything that has remained constant in a sea of change: awe-inspiring nature, the love of friends and family, the power of words and books.
Heading into this strange and uncertain Fall, I’d like to share a writing prompt with you – one that may help to buoy and ground you.
Pick a time when you will have 15 or 20 minutes to yourself. Curl up in a cozy place with things that make you feel comfortable (for me it’s always a cup of tea and a blanket!).
Now, take a few deep breaths and connect with the inner you, the one who is in there under all the layers and protection. Your most real self. The one who will always tell you the truth when you deeply listen.
What does this part of you have to say about how you’re doing and what you might need as you enter the Fall? Are there acts of self-care it would like you to prioritize?
Listen carefully and write down what you hear. This wise inner being may even have ideas about how to incorporate more of what you are craving into your life. If so, write that down too. Remember that even a very small act of self-care done regularly can yield powerful results.
Sending you kindness and all sorts of good energy,