Hello Autumn

Hello Autumn

Are you one of the millions of people who love Fall? I am (growing up in South Florida, I didn’t really get the same experience of Fall that others in the North did. I had one sweater we used to wear for that one day a year when the temperature fell to about 67 degrees), and I was commenting to my husband just the other day about what a cultural phenomenon that Fall seems to be these days.

Have you noticed it too? How once late August hits, all of the country was just awash in a wide palette of burnt sienna and orange colors, and the pumpkin-flavored everything started popping up, even though outside it was still in the mid-80s and you had to order your pumpkin latte over ice because the weather hadn’t gotten the memo yet?

There are a lot of things to love about Fall, for sure. I love feeling cozy, and I could live in sweaters all year round. I love that the sun goes down earlier and is slow to come up in the mornings. Bare trees, hearty vegetables, I love it all – but I was so curious about why we as an entire nation decided to embrace fall as our new favorite time of year. It used to be summertime, didn’t it? You thought America, and you thought of apple pie, flags flapping over hot dog picnics, and baseball games. You thought of the beach, and fishing, and running through the grass. Curiously, we’ve shifted over to the next season, and I think it’s for a real reason, something we’ve been craving for years now: comfort.

We need comfort, and we fall in love with Fall because it means more than just cooler temps. It means school days, so we’re back to a routine. It means we seek warmth, and the community of family and friends over a harvest table. It means togetherness in a way the warmer months just didn’t provide. It also could mean hope: falling leaves means more will eventually grow back. Decaying grasses make way for new growth after Winter’s end. In the Fall, change is here and more change is coming, just as it does every year and has since the beginning of time.

It’s tricky, thinking of change because I struggle the most with the things I cannot change. There are so many things I wish were different, and people who I wish would act differently, and there’s nothing that I can do or say that will make them change their directions; yet, I try anyway. And what happens? All of the energy and time that I spend doing those futile things are wasted – time I could have spent changing the things in my life that I can change.

When those things don’t get done, what ends up happening is that nothing seems like it works out: the things I can’t change haven’t changed; and the things I haven’t changed haven’t changed, and so I’m left at the beginning again, completely discouraged and even on the verge of despair, sometimes. So what should I do next? I know it seems so simple on paper, and you’re right: work on the things I can change.

We all have those things in our lives that we can change. I know sometimes it’s easy to mix up the things we can and the things we can’t. I think all the things in our lives can use some thought and some inspection. So a good exercise might be to list all of the things in your life that are holding you back. Look at your list – really look at it – and see what you can really change and what you can’t. If you can’t, you can’t. But if you can, even if you start slowly, even if you do the tiniest action – do it. And more change will come.

I know it may seem impossible, but hey it gets down to 67 degrees in South Florida at least one day a year. Here’s hoping your fall is as wonderful as you are, which is to say, really, really wonderful.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Woman sewing cloth cotton face mask to protect against the corona virus at home. Homemade handicraft protective mask against covid 19 virus. Reusable face mask.

Making Masks

It’s looking like my kids will be starting school in person this year, and while I am 1) nervous about it and 2) even more nervous about it, I’m trying to be proactive and turn my anxiety into actual work. I’m tempted to just go out and buy a bunch of masks (and let’s be honest, I most likely will), but before the school year begins, I’ve set the goal for myself of making at least five masks per child.

As much as I hate the idea of having to keep track of where their masks are every day: Did they leave it on the bus? Did they leave it at school? In their locker? In the gym? Where???  I hate the idea of having to wash them and dry them each day even more.

But making masks from scratch actually necessitates making a mask from scratch. It means cutting and sewing and measuring and, for me, a lot of failure. But I have time! And the desire to not have to do laundry is pretty overpowering, everyone.

Here’s how the first try went:

  • Okay. Got the fabric. Cute! The kids will like this print. I’ll take a yard of each, please.
  • …A yard is way too much fabric. Oh well.
  • All right. Just gotta cut it. That’s not very even, is it? Well, I’ll just cut some more here, and maybe make this end even…oh wait, now it’s an inch shorter than what I need. Re-cut!
  • I have to cut TWO pieces??
  • Okay, got my pieces. That only took 45 minutes.
  • Sew the short ends together. Oh wait, I have to thread the machine? How do I do that?
  • Okay, short ends done. Now the long ends. Done.
  • Print sides facing each other? Where’s the seam ripper?
  • Short sides together…
  • Oh, it’s only been 90 minutes.
  • I need a break.

Two Days Later…

  • I think pleats scared me even before I ever thought about making a mask.

I have, since I began this lofty goal several days ago, completed one fully functional mask. Only nine more to go, and I have six weeks until school starts. I’ll totally get it done!

But seriously, folks: all of this is to say that no matter what you try to accomplish, especially in a time where things you need might not be readily available, or if you just want to stop halfway and scream into the void about how unfair all of this is, it can get done. You can do hard things! Like making masks! Because, really…if I can do it, you can definitely do it.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online

About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

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Digging in the Dirt

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Why gardening? It is a question I have been thinking about as the days begin to grow longer and summer is quickly approaching. Amid all the thoughts roving the terra nova of my consciousness, the act of gardening – excuse the pun, has taken root. By no coincidence, I began to reflect on gardening while standing in line at my local home improvement store, that vast warehouse of do-it-yourself paraphernalia that includes an overabundance of trappings designed for the weekend and professional landscaper.

On the surface, the subject of gardening appears fairly innocuous, but dig a bit further and what is uncovered is a rich topography of metaphor and meaning that spreads deep and wide. Arguably, the pragmatic reasons for why people garden are to eat and to improve the curb appeal of their homes. If you survive on the vegetation from your garden or fancy an attractive lawn, it is easy to understand these primary motives. However, why the obsession? Our agrarian way of life ended around the same time industry began seeing dollar signs in the valleys and rivers that shape this region, and we never looked back. Sort of.

According to Christianity, humanity started in a garden. Buddhists create gardens to allow nature to fuse with their surroundings. The Babylonian’s imagined a “garden of the gods.” Almost every major palace and government building has a garden. So why all the attention to something we can only do a few months out of the year based on our temperate climate zone?

I believe one of the reasons people love gardens and the act of gardening is that while we have a desire to progress and develop in a contemporary milieu there is, deep within us, a primordial requisite for human beings to join with nature. In short, we are driven to make something, to grow something, apart from ourselves. Hence, the garden, a small path for nature to reenter our existence becomes that something. Being in nature connects us with our earliest evolutionary development.

Gardens remind us that we still care, and that we are capable of nurturing and cultivating the earth in a peaceful fashion. The garden stands in contrast to our collective, destructive patterns of behavior. Ancient philosophers viewed gardens as a means of self-actualization and enlightenment. Thus, gardening nourishes a natural need within us to create order, structure and beauty. The garden becomes the conduit between the self and the natural world.

From a practical standpoint, gardening is definitely a healthy habit that promotes physical exercise, helps the environment, and improves our diet. So go – get your garden on – weekend warrior. What you may view as a hobby has a history that serves to improve the current state of our individual and collective well-being.

In good health,
Don