Autumn is the embodiment of transition. Leaves shed their classic green and drip from trees in gold and scarlet frocks. Sunshine rumbles into rainstorms. And as the days get slower and cooler I begin to long for tea, books, candles, and time to reflect. Time to transition with the world outside. Foggy days set off a buzzer within me to become quieter, more intentional. I instinctively know to put away petty habits, distractions, frivolity and ask myself some hard questions, reassess my direction, and turn toward the life I truly desire. This year, perhaps more than ever, I feel the weight of transition in my bones. I’ve just left 28 years of making decisions on my own and have gained a partner for life. I’ve left daydreaming about a future with endless possibilities to knowing the dear friend I’ll be standing by in the days to come. Among other things, I know the next 10 years of my life will include a husband in a rigorous medical residency, fellowship, and new career. I know there will be moves to locations I don’t choose on my own. There will many nights alone. Some days this feels like a full-brimming adventure. Some days it feels scarier than a hazy forest on Halloween night. Is it controversial that I miss the freedom of singleness some days? The total autonomy. It’s scary to chart the course of your life with a new voice, opinion, and will in the mix. And yet so little of our plans ever go the way we thought, and there is so much joy in the hand holding yours no matter what curve comes.
What has occurred to me in the 10 days I’ve been in bed with a flu is this, circumstances will always be in flux around me and I need to be able to stand firm in the midst. I need to know who I am and what I want no matter my address or schedule. I’m currently reading Brenè Brown’s new book, “Braving the Wilderness,” in which she discusses an interaction she had with Maya Angelou (just imagining these two women in the same room gives me goosebumps). Brenè recounts a conversation with Maya about belonging. Maya finishes the discussion by singing to Brenè, Just like a tree planted by the water, I shall not be moved. Brenè essentially responds by writing and what do you do when Maya Angelou just sang to you and told you not to be moved? You grow some damn roots and stop being moved for everyone and everything! The book is an exploration of belonging to yourself. Transitioning from trying to belong somewhere or to something to the realization that if you truly belong to yourself you will belong everywhere you go. Dr. Angelou says it this way, You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The Price is high. The reward is great. What does it mean to belong to oneself? What is the price that has to be paid? To know that no matter what moves I make, what shakes around me, what breaks in my life...I shall not be moved? This is the hunt. To love who I’m becoming, stay true to what I value, stay vulnerable, strong, soft and brave...no matter what.
And where I find myself starting are maple trees. When a maple tree is tapped, the sweet syrup inside will flow out. I’m looking for the things in life that tap into my core and pour out longing like a maple harvest. What is my soul longing for?
I watched a show this morning, something I put on in the background as I started my coffee and fired up my work laptop, “Taste of the Country.” The show is about a woman who moved from the city with her 4 daughters to a farm. She now uses her beautiful property to host events. She picks vegetables and herbs from her own gardens to make her guest’s meals from scratch. With a small team she decorates the tables with blooms from her vast flower gardens and hosts magnificent events. This seemingly random show tapped into me and poured out longing like syrup. I was captivated. It’s not that I think my calling is to live on a Canadian farm where I serve local, organic menus at beautiful, rustic events...though I wouldn’t complain. It was recognizing in her story the courage it took to leave the world she knew and create something slow and beautiful and passionate from scratch. I crave that kind of bravery, to CREATE a life I love, to know what I want and go for it, to define success solely by my standards and not the world’s. And oh, do I want slow and beautiful. I want a life outside of the norm, a life marked by intention, a life driven by relationship, beautiful meals, slow walks, good books, tea on the porch, deep conversation, bringing people together, healing hearts, bravery, beautifully written words, and community. I'm not sure what that big “buying a farm and creating events” move will be for my life, but I'm excited to draw closer to it. I think this fall will be one of journal pages, revisiting favorite books, homemade pies, and lonely foggy walks. A soul-searching season to know who I’m becoming and where I’m headed. So that when the moves, busyness, pressure, cultural success, and circumstances shake around me...I shall not be moved. I will belong to myself so fully that I will belong anywhere and nowhere.