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Finding balance in this late summer and autumn of our lives

Ah ... summer! Fall is here, and it’s a time of gathering in our energy, harvesting the garden and planning for winter.

School has started (and will hopefully continue), organizations and groups we’re part of have kicked back into gear, and there are many other new plans and undertakings that naturally come at this time of the year.

I have many fall projects going on that are seasonally important to do. It’s a time of more focus, more responsibility, more attention to mindful things.

Alas, this is the way it’s supposed to be. But summer has lingered this year. As I write, today’s temperatures are to reach the high 80s. The sun still feels strong and skies are clear. Summer keeps calling. I try to concentrate on my plans, and then I hear the lake calling, the river and the mountains calling. It’s been difficult to attend to anything inside.

After a long winter of COVID-19, isolation and so many things canceled (rightly so), many of us really wanted to get out there this summer. So many activities and fun, fewer duties and deadlines. We needed this. Now, along with the new COVID-19 scares, we should be hunkering down a bit. I sometimes wish it would get cold, and beckon me inside to get some of these tasks done.

Chinese medicine designates late summer as a season unto itself. It can mean a time of intense metamorphosis in nature and within ourselves. Its element is Earth, which means it’s especially important we stay centered, stay in contact with the Earth, stay grounded, so as not to go into total chaos. If things are constantly in motion, both inwardly and outwardly, there is nothing to hold onto.

It’s hard not to feel the chaos all around us in the world, and also right here in my daily goings-about. I do know that when I try to work and finish up in my garden for the year, I feel that sense of calm and much joy. That’s where I need to be.

Staying centered these days is about balancing between the many things in our lives. There is the right brain/left brain ideas between linear, sequential, logical and the time-oriented verbal functions, versus the relaxation and dreaming sides of our brains. There is the mind and our thinking sides, and then the body and our sensing sides.

Also, there is the outer world, nature and other people, and the inner world of senses, feelings and inner voices we deal with. This is a lot of balancing, and something we usually take for granted or don’t think much about.

But with such warm days and yet the calendar saying it’s fall, perhaps we need to think more about this.

Many of us are also dealing with our aging bodies and sometimes minds. This is another balancing act. How to prepare for this upcoming and uncertain winter when we’re dealing with all of those more personal issues also. And how many more falls and winters do we have? It’s almost like this late summer is the autumn of our lives.

Breathe. Go out to the garden. Plan time walking in nature. I’m also trying to pay attention to my intuition. What do I need today? What can I do or not do that will balance me? What feels right?

Oops, just got a call to head to the lake. I’m going!

Martha McClellan has lived in Durango since 1993 and has been an educator, consultant and writer. Reach her at mmm@bresnan.net.