Autumn

3 Reasons to Stop & Look at the Moon

ONE: This Sunday (September 27th) is the Harvest Moon, the full moon that occurs closest to the Fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The term "Harvest Moon" conjures up a moon radiating a warm Autumn glow.  In China it brings the Moon Festival, a time when families gather together to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, a symbol of Harmony and Unity. In North American cultures the Harvest Moon is a time of reaping when farmers can work late into the night gathering crops by the light of the moon.

The Harvest Moon by Sammuel Palmer

The Harvest Moon by Sammuel Palmer

 TWO: It will also be a supermoon, meaning the moon will be huge. This happens when a full moon coincides with the point at which the moon is closest to the Earth during it's elliptical orbit. Legends link supermoons to earthquakes and tsunamis. Although there is very little science supporting a link between supermoons and natural disasters, they symbolize the power of nature in our lives.

THREE: There will be a lunar eclipse visible over the sky of the Western world. If you have never taken the time out to watch an eclipse, I advise you do so. This will be the night to see it. The moon will be big, the sky should be clear. As you watch I invite you to think back on ancient humans watching in wonder as the moon slowly disappeared and reappeared. All sorts of magic was concocted to explain the mystery and we still live with the remnants of that magical thinking. We experience it in some sort of deep place in our souls a place of curiosity and wonder.

We have more in common with those ancient myth tellers than we like to admit. Maybe as you watch the moon this Sunday, something magical will happen to you; maybe you will be reminded of the seasonal renewal occurring in your own life. Perhaps just taking the time to stop and watch the moon could become it's own sort of ceremony. A ceremony to honor the passageway you find yourself in right now. 

enjoy.


An Invitation to Gratitude

Life is so full at Thanksgiving. There are visits to make, people to see, turkeys to battle, and for some people shopping to be done. It isn't all easy and it isn't all fun. Today is my father's birthday. He is very sick right now and I am very pregnant and so we won't be able to see each other. 

Thinking back, he is the start of my Thanksgiving memories. He is the cook in our little family and so every year on this day the kitchen was his. My dad is an experimenter, a tinkerer, and so his meals were never repetitions but rather little works of art that he proudly shared with the people he loved. 

Not being with him today is painful. Not because it is our first our only Thanksgiving apart, but rather because I fear it might be his last as I have every year since 2012 when he received a bleak diagnosis. Couple that with the small little life growing inside me longing to meet its grandfather and well, the pressure is on.

Yes, life is full and it isn't always easy to find gratitude when day to day existence drags us into worry, doubt, and the fog of holiday traffic. So what can we do? What can I do, to draw out Thanksgiving?

Starting at the beginning, we might notice that gratitude is the goal today. It is now and always should be. When gratitude comes, it is followed by joy, peace, compassion, enlightenment, and basically all the good stuff. Thankfulness is what we all really want on our plates this afternoon because nothing is more filling than settling into how provided for we are...how deeply loved. 

Thanksgiving invites us to the table of abundance. It invites us to pull up a chair and delve in to the richness of living. That invitation is not an invitation to ignore our sorrows, but rather to look deeper in to them. To find the gift of the grief. 

So as I look deeper at the fullness of my own life today I see a pretty lucky woman, about to be a mother. I see myself at the center of loving family in an act of creation and extenuation of that family. I see my dad living on through the lessons I teach my son and I see the beautiful patterns of love in my life. I see connection, and I am grateful for it. 

That gratitude is a resting place as I move through today, missing my father and longing for my child. The good is there...always just one deep breath away and followed by the gifts of a very full life.

So join me, friend, at this table. Sink in to Thanksgiving, push yourself towards the chaos and take a breath. Life, full and abundant with all it's mystery, awaits you on the other side of this meal. 


Fall Traditions

How will you mark the changing seasons?

FOOD and DRINK

I know that for me, warm apple cider on the first or second cool day of the year is a big tradition. There are so many seasonal foods that I crave all year long. In the Spring and Winter I long for Watermelon, but these days I find myself excited about squash, turkey, and pie. This natural craving for seasonal foods is rooted deep in our biology from a time when you really couldn't get strawberries in January. I invite you to celebrate the changes in your life by eating seasonally. You might be shocked by the memories that accumulate around the meals in your life when you bring just a touch of continuousness to your palate.

Arts and Crafts

I also get excited about pumpkins. I know it is silly, but I just love a good pumpkin carving where your up to your elbows in innards and joy. Every year I long for the disgustingly rewarding feeling of scraping out the seeds with a spoon. It just doesn't feel like Autumn until there is a jack-o-lantern on my doorstep. The Fall is also a great time for other types of crafting. Those of you who love a good hot glue gun, get it out and start on that wreath of autumn leaves, a new quit, or your Halloween costume. I'll be over here, with my pumpkin guts.

Time in Nature

There is no better time to get out doors and just go exploring. If you are lucky enough to live in a place where foliage shifts, I implore you to just step out side some time and be grateful for what you have. In Texas, we have mosquitos...but the cooler weather will eventually lull them to sleep, at which point I will get outside to walk...or do some much needed gardening.

Seasonal Gatherings

It isn't quite time for that Winter fire, but the Fall is a beautiful time to gather friends for a board game night or a simple meal and movie. Ancestrally we all know to move inwards as the weather cools, towards our close communities and families. Take the excuse to huddle up and laugh with a group of people who make you feel cozy and at home.

Wardrobe Shifts

Even something as seemingly simple as pulling all your sweaters and hats out of summer storage can be done thoughtfully. When I was in high school in Houston I remember so distinctly those precious "sweater days" when everyone could wear their warm clothing. For me it marked a change in the feeling of the world. Life was cooler and so was I. As you pull out your favorite scarf this year, notice how you have changed since the last time you wore it. 

Holidays

Most of you have figured out by now that I love holidays. I love the history of them and I love the way people use them year after year to tap in to the season. All cultures have some sort of harvest of Fall celebration. Take a moment to research the traditions of your own background, or find a way completely your own to celebrate the harvest. For me, as an anglo American, it is Halloween. This simple strange holiday has it's roots in a combination of Catholicism, Celtic rituals, and 1950s nostalgia. I love spooky stories full of mystery and suspense almost as much as I love dressing up. That said, I use the season not just to evaluate my own fears but also to bring those who have gone before me in to my awareness. The memories of my grandparents, deceased friends, and lost opportunities fill my mind in Autumn. 

Because with the Fall comes not just relief from summer heat but also grief that it is over. As we ease in to Winter, let us savor these joyful Fall rituals and mourn the echo of long summer days.  

What new memories will you create in this season of remembrance?



Change is in the Air

Today marks the Fall Equinox in my hemisphere. In other places...Spring is starting. Around the world, things are changing, just as they do every year.

Growing up in South Texas, the changing of the seasons was anticlimactic to say the least. I remember being in school and being taught the seasons. I can specifically remember an illustrated wall poster that  listed all four seasons and I remember being confused. I had never seen snow and orange leaves were something I associated with scorched summer days when the sun bleached the green out of the trees. Still, like most things we learn when we are little, I took it at face value and moved on. 

I did not understand seasons until I moved to New York City after college to pursue a career. For the first twenty one years of my life I knew seasons existed but I never understood what an impact they could have on my physical, mental, and spiritual self.

In retrospect, it makes sense to me that although they did not pertain to me I was taught them as a child. The seasons of the US North East are so deeply engrained in our national culture because they are indeed powerful beyond belief. 

Now that I am back in Texas, I often miss the way the world echoed my metamorphosis. A season's shifting weather offers outward refection of inner changes. As I tap into my deep knowing, I notice the seasons much more than I did as a child. I allow myself to feel them even if nature's display looks a little different than that poster in my 2nd grade classroom. The feelings are the same regardless.

Here, as in most places, Autumn is a relief. The temperature cools, the rain starts back up again and the dead yellows and browns of a Texas summer start to turn back to green. It feels like you can live again too. Like the world is ready and waiting for your potential. 

Can you feel it? Change is in the air and there is so much to do.

Sacredness

Autumn is often full of transition. As the world turns darker and the days shorten, life prepares for the cold months ahead. This happening in nature is reflected in our inner lives. Sometimes the Fall can bring depression, anxiety, and even hopelessness. However, the world has set up systems that pull those feelings out of us and place them in sacred traditions. We light candles, carve pumpkins, dress up in costumes, and get a chance to believe (even if just for one night) that the unknown is knowable. The holiness or sacredness of these traditions push deeper into life, past fear and confusion to the heart of the season; preparing for the next thing. When something is sacred it is “oh, so much more than it seems”. Simple wood and string becomes prayer beads. Wax and thread transforms into a candle lit in the darkness. A date on the calendar becomes a special anniversary. And someone simple and ordinary, that you pass on the street, transforms into the voice of your heart.
That is how sacredness works. It is a window clarifying that the world and all that it contains is “Oh, so much more”.

I invite you in this season of transition to notice the sacred rituals that surround you. How are you transforming the simple in your life to see the sacred?