A Different Kind of Autumn Checklist

self care in the changing season

A few weeks ago, I sat down in my favorite office chair and made a list.

I often like to scroll Pinterest for recipes and home decorating ideas, and I notice that when September comes around there are an abundance of “Autumn Checklist” posts.

Some of them have a self-care twist, encouraging the Autumn-lover to use that pumpkin scented candle during a good, long bubble bath, and I appreciate the sentiment, as I am constantly re-examining my own self-care.

We continue to live in an exhausting time. Those of us who have our kids in school are wondering day by day if they’ll be sent home with exposure to COVID, and those of us with kids at home don’t know how to create space for ourselves in the day. We worry about family members, the immunocompromised, and others in our communities, and pray that as people we practice better care for one another. I’m holding the tension and exhaustion of all of this with you.

Because things feel so uncertain, I’m trying to find small things to tether me, to keep me connected to my own body, to my environment, and sometimes to get me out of my own head.

So, that list I made— it’s most of the things I consider to be self-care right now, which I give permission to change tomorrow, next week or even next month if it needs to. This is what works for me right now.

My birthday is on the first day of fall, which means every year as I celebrate my own life, I celebrate the changing of the season, the coming harvest, the welcoming in.

Birthdays are strange, aren’t they? I always find birthdays to be special, but not uncomplicated. Birthdays are complex, beautiful, sometimes painful days— that’s the liminality of it all, isn’t it?

So this year, as Autumn arrives, I want to lean into this Autumn checklist— a checklist that asks us to consider 2 things a day (at least) that we can do to nourish ourselves for the next few months.

Here’s a photo of my list, which may be somewhat or totally different from your list:

Things I consider self-care are: playing piano, painting my nails, stretches, journaling, deep breaths, watching tv, creating work boundaries, playing, and more. These things get me through my own bouts with anxiety and worry, and keep me tethered to this moment and this season.

I’d love for you to take a few moments sometime this week, as fall arrives, to make your own self-care checklist. Make them simple things, some activities or practices you can do in a few minutes, some things that take time— the point is that these are embodiments that nourish your soul when you need that nourishment. See if you can practice 2 or more a day.

And, as always, we remember that self-care isn’t just for ourselves—kinship requires constant connection to the earth and one another, so when we celebrate the changing of the seasons, of our own seasons, and when we honor the work of caring for ourselves, we are honoring relationship to one another, too.

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Onward, friends, together.