Autumn’s Simplicity

Life is a gift we are given each day.

We cannot recapture a moment ill spent,

So today purpose to dream about tomorrow,

But live in the moment.

Don’t wait,

Make memories today and celebrate life!

Rushed from the emergency room waiting area into an exam room, my heart pounded watching the doctor and nurses rushing to monitor my vitals. “There’s a pain in my chest,” was all I had to say to trigger expert handling of a potentially life-threatening issue.”

The garden pathway announces the autumn season with every crisp step I take through the woods and along the creek. My walk shares an opportunity to view nature’s transformation from summer to fall. The cool crisp mornings cause me to pull my sweatshirt sleeves down over my hands to warm them. The crunch of dried leaves underfoot set a pacing staccato regulating my tempo. The crystal-clear water rushing over the rocks refreshes my senses with its sights and sounds. The spider webs that stretch from plant to plant are hung with diamonds this morning. 

At the end of my walk, I pass by the garden and pick the last few remaining cherry tomatoes and tart green apples. The familiar orange pumpkins remind me of the thrill of celebrating simple things like holidays. As a child I remember believing with all my heart that Cinderella really did ride in a golden coach made from a pumpkin just like these.

Autumn brings the anticipation of Halloween night for little ones. As kids we spent eight weeks thinking of and planning our costumes. I don’t remember store-bought costumes; we made our own. Mom always had sheets, boxes and duct-tape. They were cleverly transformed into a super hero, a hobo, a pirate or a fairy princess. Your imagination was the only limit.

My trick or treat bag was a pillowcase, nothing fancy from the store. And the best treats were at the homes where the moms cooked. The only thing we bought at the store was a flashlight or batteries for a flashlight. kids.

No one worried about the candy or what could be in it. It didn’t cross our minds to vandalize anything, and the highlight of the night was meeting at one of the friend’s houses to bob for apples and eat caramel popcorn. If we watched scary movies it was “Abbott and Costello” or Don Knotts’ “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” I remember being scared out of my wits by “Dark Shadows,” “The Blob,” and “The Birds.”

When did things get so complicated?

 I confess, I am an ‘A’ type individual, generally moving Mach II with my hair on fire. One day, in the not so distant past, my body showed me what it was like to burn the candle at both ends and actually meet in the middle. My blood pressure was too high, my sleep patterns were too short and my coping abilities were shot. I rarely lived in the moment because I was always attempting to either plan ahead or manage the current crisis at hand. I was missing the simple things in life that truly make life worth living. My physician, a gentle and wise man, said to me that day, “I have good news and bad news.” I held my breath waiting for the bad news…

“This is not a heart-attack. You’re standing at a crossroad with your health, the bad news is this is self-inflicted.”

          “OK, and the good news?” I questioned expecting a pill or something to fix it.

He smiled reading my mind, “The good news is, this is self-inflicted.”

There was no forthcoming prescription, but instead a challenge to take back my life, my spirit and my health. I wish I could tell you slowing down came easy for me. I actually have to practice daily streamlining my life and living in the present. My morning ritual of taking time apart to enjoy the simple things life has to offer resets the pace at which I live the rest of my day.   

Since I’ve slowed down, I see more, spend less, get more done than in the past, (figure that one out!) and focus more on the things that really matter rather than busy stuff just for busy sake. I’m like a reformed smoker, I see the stress in other’s lives and want to run and warn them of the dangers.

Is it society that is to blame for the pace? Perhaps somewhat. But maybe, just maybe it has to do with our own choices. The world is full of opportunities, but I don’t have to take part in ALL of them. There is a magic pacing mechanism in us and we get to decide how fast or how slow it is set.

So, I’ve chosen to spend time in our recliner, Bible in my lap and coffee beside me first thing in the morning. I embrace a period of quietness to inventory the true important tasks for the day. Then I walk. I walk with purpose. I remind myself to notice all the little things, to breathe deeply, to record all the sounds around me. Today I’m enjoying the colorful leaves that know the perfect time to rest for the winter–autumn’s simplicity.

Do you need to take an inventory of your life pace? What areas can you condense, refine, or eliminate?

For more stories like this check out Lessons From the Garden: The Real Dirt on Being Happy!