I had to chuckle at the definition of autumn on the site Vocabulary.com which states: “Autumn is the third season of the year, coming after summer and before winter, and coinciding with the dropping of leaves from the trees as they go into a winter rest, which is why it's also called fall. We also use autumn metaphorically to talk about the seasons of a person's life, like that luminous older actress in the autumn of her career: she's not yet playing roles in nursing homes, but neither is she scampering around in bikinis.”
I presently find myself, sixty-six years old, smack dab in the middle of the autumnal years, but instead of aligning myself with an older actress who no longer looks “hot” in a bikini I am looking for another way of defining these years. I am no longer working at my first career as a doctor of chiropractic but now an author/speaker. If you are anything like me, you aren’t acutely aware that the days are growing shorter, yet, when you have an ache or pain, you pause and take note. You also start to note your peers are starting to express aspects of autumnal years; forgetting their sunglasses once again, not interested in staying up past ten pm and needing extra tutorial sessions upon opening a Venmo account. Then you notice these same changes are taking place in you. After asking my husband to repeat himself due to not understanding the words he was articulating, I went for a hearing test. Diagnosis was that I could benefit from a hearing aid. I refuse to wear a hearing aid, for now. After all, I can’t be that old. Then the unspeakable starts to occur. Some autumnal friends start to pass away, others slow down a bit and others slow down even faster.
But there is yet more to the autumn years than hearing deficit, missing glasses and the sort. The seeds you have planted in the late spring/early summer years have given rise to the harvest. This harvest presents an opportunity. You take all the knowledge from the seeds you have sown and learn to plant more selectively. You don’t want to expend your energy on what is unnecessary, as your energy reserves have become that much more precious. Therefore, you learn to ground yourself and like a tree where the winds of change are blowing all around you, you guide your energy deeper into your roots.
Here in your root system is where you periodically review your belief systems and observe what no longer serves you. Do you believe you could learn a new instrument, write that memoir or just be happy and grateful with your life how it is at this present moment? Do you give yourself permission to even dream anymore? It may be time for fall cleaning. Dust off the dreams that have been shelved for too long and release those outdated beliefs that are hampering the way.
Once you release perceived limitations you may be left with a bit of a void of purpose. If so, take a piece of paper and journal write answering the following questions.
Be as specific as possible when journaling about your feelings, as the feelings that bubble up are helpful with guiding you toward your newly formed purpose. Even though it is important to be very specific in writing out your desires, it is also important to be open to the fact that how your desires manifest may not be solely under your control.
Remember that your autumn years require courage and nimbleness of body, mind and spirit. It also takes a lot of soul searching but the rewards far outweigh the discomfort sometimes experienced during the journey.
About the Authors:
Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at: www.joyinaging.com