Megan Jenkins Cass, a life enthusiast from Western North Carolina, acknowledges a different perception we could be applying to our life by embracing ALL change:
“It’s that time of year again. Kids are headed back to school. The cicadas are singing their nightly lullabies. Bright warm days give way to afternoon thunderstorms and cool evenings remind you to dig out your favorite hoodie.
On the heels of fall comes a condition that some suffer from unknowingly or knowingly but in silence: S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder. With less daylight and cooler weather to work with, some people find their positive outlook and healthy ways of living take a nose dive during the winter months.
I invite you to research the myriad of science-minded approaches to navigating S.A.D. on your own and offer a more natural approach that anyone can easily implement and benefit from.
As a child, the onset of fall brought new promises and positive outlooks: the start of a new school year, getting older, reuniting with long lost friends, and getting down to business with some serious playing outside as the weather turned cooler. As an adult, however, I came to dread the onset of winter. Instead of actively watching for the signs of change, I vehemently ignored them, hoping that if I didn’t notice winter was coming maybe it would never arrive and take the opportunity to drag my mood down.
Today, I embrace the changing of ALL seasons. Sure, it’s easy to get lost in the fun of summer, but I’ve learned to keep my eyes focused on the big picture. Every year I add new highlights from the changing seasons so that my mind can stay up-to-date with what’s coming next. This way, no surprises!
While hiking, I take notice of understory trees whose leaves begin to turn orange in late July. Soon after, the locust trees lining the highways will turn brown, followed by the yellowing of poplars and sycamores. Dogwood and Magnolia berries will ripen to bright red alongside the sourwood and burning bush leaves. The sun, as it sets below the mountains, casts longer and longer shadows in my gardens. The cicadas serenade both day and night. We will experience alternating warm-then-cooler patterns, preparing the trees and plants to wind down their active growth cycle, polish off any seed production for the growing season, and store energy within to make it through the winter.
Animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and bears become more visible as they begin to collect, store, and put on weight to make it through the cold days of winter. Other animals, such as ducks and geese parade their fully grown families around before taking to the skies to find warmer weather elsewhere.
What signs of change do you notice? Do the many celebrations and holidays of fall and winter help you to settle more comfortably into the shorter days and longer nights? What about the start and finish of sports seasons?
It’s really no wonder that our bodies want to do many of the same things nature is doing! If only we could all pick up and move each winter to somewhere warmer, brighter, and greener! Watching nature move ever so slowly, constantly adjusting with the changing seasons, helps me focus on the slow preparations my own body is making for the change of seasons. This leaves me much more time to appreciate the world around me as it is, moment by moment, rather than waste my energy fighting and hiding from something that is natural and necessary.
I open the windows and doors more. Reflect on the fun I have been having and the growth I have experienced. I take stock of both new and old friends I have connected with. I cuddle up with warm blankies on the porch. I find myself counting satellites on crystal clear nights. I aim to catch falling leaves for the wishes they bestow. I scatter wildflower seeds I have collected so the chill of winter can open them to growth of the following spring. I offer my thanks for all the life around me and in me and hope for many more days like these to come.
Everything is connected. Everything appears in some sort of order, even if we don’t fully know what that order is. I invite you to open your eyes to the world around you and really take notice of the changes going on. They are carried out and completed by mother nature in a strong, slow, and intentional way.
Let us mimic her ways so that we may find peace and order during a time when we may feel more challenged in our ability to find happiness, beauty and purpose in our lives.
Winter is the best time to continue with your observations! Winter is only the prelude to spring. I guarantee that as soon as you think things are finally settling down for winter, the signs of spring will already be starting to show! It truly is a seamless and rather quick transition from fall into winter and back into spring, again. Keeping your eyes open will help it go by faster!
Brighten up any S.A.D.ness you might experience this fall and winter with more trips outside, an open heart, and a willingness to slow down and truly become one with your self and the world around you. Maybe you could even invite a friend along with you to share in the experience of change… you never know what someone else could be going through or the difference your invitation could make in their life.”