Better & Bolder, the Blog

what approaches

It's so beautiful and sunny out, and the bright yellow of the trees make it hard to imagine that we are almost at Samhain and the Day of the Dead. November approaches, and with that, longer nights and shorter days. The colors will soon leave the trees. The bare bones of the branches will stand out against our blue sky. The mornings grow colder. 

We are invited to study the bones, to see the structure underneath, to understand the skeleton. Think of this as going to the within, to see what lies beneath, and to get to the deepest wisdom. Sometimes we seek to find the heart of the matter; this time, we want to hear the bones speak. 

We are reminded of our reverence and respect for death, here at the end of October, just before we are encouraged to be immensely grateful for our lives with a feast day in November. 

I find this an intensely charged time and personally a difficult transition. I somehow am not totally able to just play with Halloween. It seems as if it will be fun and then on the 31st, I often sense the tug and pull of the dark side. It doesn't seem quite right any more to celebrate. Instead, I want to get very very quiet. Yet I'm also not able to totally dive into what seems a very heavy spiritual charge of considering my mortality and communicating with those who have left this world. The meaning of the 31st perhaps is simply limbo and what I feel is appropriate. I feel not only the change of the seasons and the change of the earth. I feel that gap opening between the worlds for just a short spin, and my soul hangs there in the balance, unmoving, undecided, and that is unfamiliar. I am not at ease. That is how it should be.

 I am not ready, ever, to let go of the late afternoon sun or the incredible beauty of the red and yellow leaves. I have weeks left, I'm sure. It won't all be bare by the time November comes in. But, certainly, November will come -- the colder weather and the brown replacing the gold on the trees.

Peak

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Okay, this is wrong on so many levels. Getting to the mountains when the trees are at their peak ends up on my To Do list. As in, pick up groceries, pay bills, hike in Santa Fe.

Here’s the next level of wrong. I get stressed out worrying that I’ll miss the peak. I have to plan it right, and I can’t just wait until I have time or nothing else is happening. I can’t miss it. It would be morally wrong to do so. 

Here’s the one piece of right. This motivates me to make a plan, and it means I end up outside with people I love, which is just so many levels of right and wonderful.

On Wednesday, I called in Healthy and went with my husband to Big Tesuque. Then on Saturday, the four of us plus 3 friends went to 4th of July Canyon. That’s aspens and maples. I have exceeded my hike-in-gorgeous-autumn goal. And, we pretty much hit peak both times. 

I still feel guilty that I wasn’t just motivated by love but also by fear: fear of missing out, fear that I’d be a bad person if I didn’t visit the trees at a time I think they are most spectacular. 

It was spectacular, too. The blue sky and bright gold trees in Santa Fe were stunning, awe-inspiring, and we all need some awe in our lives. We need to see something so beautiful that we’ll take a day off just to be there. The true sweetness of the day for me, though, was that my husband arranged to take a day off to be with me. It’s not like we were lovey dovey romantic all day. Simply taking the day off was enough romance for me. I felt valued. I felt worth it. I also felt good that I was saying the same to him: hey, let’s just you and I go off together for a bit.

Driving to the Manzanos to 4th of July Canyon was a treat. I like when all 4 of us, the family unit, hang out together. I like hearing whatever my kids are thinking. I like talking politics. On the drive up, we were talking US history, and it’s a thrill to hear what my daughter absorbed from her class last year. It’s not about a grade she got; it’s what she retained and can share. I get to get that when we’re all hanging together. 

The ride up also was wonderful because this area just doesn’t look like the rest of New Mexico, or at least not where I spend my time. I hadn’t been out that way in so long that it felt new and stimulating. The area where the fire had hit a few years ago showed new growth, shrubs with green and gold and red, while the burnt trees stood up black and white and grey, treeless. We imagined what kind of movie should take place there.

On the hike, we were joined by three friends. We joked, we checked in on our lives, we made plans. It was easy-going and it was fun and then there was this that I liked the most:  I could see how much more at ease my son is now with a group. I loved watching him take pictures, engaged in a passion, confident in his skills. It’s the mundane stuff, folks, that make parents glow. 

So this week, I fed myself nature, and I fed myself time with my husband, with my family, with my friends. 

I even got a hint of looking forward to the late fall when there are fewer things to do and hiking doesn’t seem quite so glorious. I’m looking forward to that weekend when we all look at each and realize we have no plans. I want to watch a stupid movie on TV or even go to the dollar show. I want to be so cold that I join my daughter at hot yoga. 

I’ll take summer over winter any day. I love this part of fall like crazy. I have a dread of the cold, the dark, and most of all the weird disconnect each December as we light up everything like crazy and plan big parties and presents -- instead of settling into a cozy, not-doing-much, soupy haze at home. Last year, I was really worried that winter would just eat me up. All my bad habits might return, I feared, and I would be overcome by the long cold dark months. It wasn’t a great winter, and it went on too long. I didn’t sit and read books in a cozy nook. I didn’t relax at night, cuddling on the couch, watching movies with my husband. I didn’t find the deep dark loveliness of winter and grow within it. I just go through. That, it seems, was enough.

This year, I have that dread minus 2%. I have a little bit of love for the idea that I won’t want to go outside and I won’t want to make plans and I won’t feel the pressure to do much of anything. 

I plan to keep running through the cold months. I’d like to make more soups and stews. I hope to find a new me-in-winter, one that feels a little slower in a good way. If I don’t, then I’ll get through it again. Spring will be waiting for me on the other side, and I’ll bloom in the growing warmth again.