I love this time of year. When fog rolls in, evenings grow crisp with storm, trees glow red. Something in my soul comes alive and my heart feels just slightly melancholy and wholly at rest. The transition from summer to autumn comes with two of my favorite holy days, the autumnal equinox and Rosh Hashanah. As I soak in all the change around me in nature and feel similar shifts going on behind my ribs--celebrating these two evenings seems like the perfect way to welcome this calm, sweet season to my doorstep. This year Rosh Hashanah is October 2nd-4th, I hope you celebrate. I wrote this post originally in 2014 and felt it was a good reminder as we saunter into the months of falling leaves, apple picking, and chai lattes. Take care, friends.
Wednesday night of last week marked the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year, heavy with tradition, mysticism, symbolism, and meaning. It was especially magical this year because it was back-to-back with the autumnal equinox. The two combined made it feel like there was change in the air, like anything was possible.
I came home from work that evening, not quite sure how I’d celebrate but knowing I wanted to slow down, be present, and think about what I wanted this next season to look like. A night of reflection.
I poured myself a glass of champagne, as one always should when one wants to be reflective, celebratory, or let’s be honest—on any occasion, and lit a candle. I sat on my couch with a journal and the latest issue of Darling Magazine and after a few minutes, it hit. One of those moments that feel like all the pieces are coming together. My lovely friend and mentor, Cory, text me that she had been praying for me and thought that maybe in this Jewish new year there was a single word that would help define my next season. I opened the magazine right after receiving her text to a spread with one word in bold letters in the center,
Something settled into my soul when I read that word. So of course I immediately text a picture of it to Cory, as one does these days. Epiphany shared instantly. She said, oddly enough, this is the word she had been thinking of for me. Rest. What a lovely word. But honestly, what does that even mean when used to define a whole season? Sleeping in? Saying no to plans after work occasionally?
Certainly it could mean these practical things, but I also think it denotes an attitude, lifestyle, and perspective shift. The article in Darling (by, Sarah Dubbledam) was about the writer’s trip to an exclusive spa…and her realization that she felt uncomfortable with slowing down, with being taken care of. I was particularly struck by one sentiment in the piece, “These questions made me realize: I have completely forgotten to care for myself. I am a woman of worth, and I need to start treating my body and mind like that. Yes, I need to serve others: yes, I have to work; yes, it’s not all about me. But sometimes, it has to be.
If we are not refueled, how can we give to the world?”
If we are not refueled, how can we give to the world? That’s a question that will strike to your core if you let it. Because pampering isn’t about being prissy, impressing others, being indulgent, or running with the elite. It’s about worth. About taking time, resources, and space to make sure you are well, you are taken care of, you are rested. Because you are a woman of worth. Because if you are not refueled, Darling, how can you give all that good inside of you to the world?
I’ve always thought I was fairly good at “treating myself.” Eating ice cream after a long day, making an irresponsible purchase online when work felt monotonous, vegging out on a Saturday in PJs. But the problem with those acts is that they are all reactionary, not intentional. They are about distraction and not about refueling. What I am trying to cultivate in my life now is an intentional rest and what I’m finding is that it takes discipline.
The night after Rosh Hashanah I decided I wanted to make it to a yoga class I’ve been trying to fit into my schedule for weeks. It’s a one-hour commitment and it felt like wrestling a crocodile to get there: some rescheduling with friends, some saying no to laundry that was piling up, that all-too-hard rejection of Netflix. I made it to the class and when I left I was glad I had done something for myself, I felt in tune, centered, strong (and a lot of other yoga clichés). I’ve made a commitment in my mind to get to the two classes a week this particular instructor teaches because I want to continue to check in with myself, feel rested, stretched, present. When I start making it to that class, start to carve out time every week to read with a cup of tea, start to save money for a weekend away or for a massage, what I am saying to myself is that I am a woman worth effort, with needs worth being met, with inherent value. In cultivating these habits even just for a few days now I can already see they directly correlate with bigger areas I have devalued myself in: my dreams, my needs. If carving out an hour on Thursday evening for yoga is important, then I certainly cannot make an excuse to skip a night I designated to work on my book project or blog. If fitness is important, making time to chase after my dream is 10x more important. When I acknowledge my worth by investing in myself in small ways it challenges me to take bigger steps in that direction (like emailing the editor of a magazine a link to my blog or moving away from unhealthy relationships). When I start making my well being a priority in little ways that attitude will naturally overflow into bigger areas of my life.
We are a generation of tired women. We are hustling, serving others, working harder, proving ourselves, adding more. But we are tired. I’ve seen a saying multiple times on social media that reads, “we are a generation of women who were told we could be anything and instead heard that we had to be everything.”
What does it look like to give to the world from a place of rest instead of from the pressure to be everything?
At first it may seem like just a silly pedicure, but it may be the first step toward making space in your life for the things that really matter to you. It may just help you change the world.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started (a few of these are adapted from Darling Magazine and a few are from me):
Get Creative whether it’s writing, drawing, arranging flowers, making music, finger painting, or wood working—get creative. There’s nothing like creating something to get you in touch with your soul.
See Beauty find time to be drenched in beauty. Get to a museum, wake up early to see the sunrise, go on a hike. Beauty has a way of refreshing us in a deep way and pushing the “reset” button on stress.
Smell Lovely if you haven’t hopped on the essential oil bandwagon yet, do. From curing ailments, to helping with sleep, to making you smell like a dream—these little bottles of magic are worth the investment. (I suggest youngliving.com)
Arrange Your Plate eat foods that are whole, natural, and clean as often as possible. And take time to arrange your plate, make your food beautiful, let meals be a sacred part of the day.
Soak once or twice a week take a bubble bath and mix in ingredients with healing agents like lemon balm, apple cider vinegar, or Epsom salts. Make your home feel like a day spa.
Wake and Slumber make sure you are getting your beauty sleep. Eight hours if possible. When you wake: stretch, drink water, get some exercise. At night: turn off the phone, laptop,& tablet well before bedtime, let your body wind down, drink plenty of water, sleep soundly.
Cultivate make time to chase your dreams, practice areas you are gifted in, take risks for things that are important to you, make time for friendship, travel, have grace for yourself.
Let's take better care of ourselves.
p.s. as a Californian I'm still waiting for the leaves to change and to come out of beach weather...but I'm a hopeful 45 minute drive from mountain towns.