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Finding Joy in Fall 2021

Posted on September 2, 2021


Two dogs are on a trail with autumn leaves.

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Amie Hendrix, Deputy County Administrator for Tompkins County, New York. Connect with Amie on LinkedIn or Twitter.

What I’m Reading: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

What I’m Watching: Only Murders in the Building

What I’m Listening to: Dirty Heads, Vacation


A pumpkin with the words

I am an Autumn baby, so it’s probably no surprise that I love the fall season and the month of September. As we approach Fall 2021, I find myself in a bit of a different place. Our local pandemic numbers are increasing above our previous case levels, my colleagues across the country are battling fires, hurricanes and so much more, tensions seem higher than ever before, parents are struggling to figure out how to send their kids to school, I cancelled my birthday plans to travel to Hard Rock Stadium for a birthday rival game, and everything seems to be in the “upside down.” I am forever an optimist, but ya’ll being optimistic right now is really, really hard.

So how do I get it back? How do I work through the fear, hurt, concern, anger, and all the emotions as they collide, to find that optimism?

Fall is my favorite season and here are my plans to find joy:

  1. Slow Down. Hear the crunch, find the colors, and smell fall. In college I was having a super rough time living in a new City. I felt stressed, suffocated, and just not Amie. It was then I learned the secret to every great city. On a very stressful evening a friend pointed out that all the best cities have hidden and lovely trails. So, this fall, get outside. It doesn’t matter where you are (as long as September is your fall), go and find that crisp air. Check out the changing season, feel the crunch of the fallen leaves, and breathe in the fall.
  2. Update my wooly socks and warm clothes. Taking a day off to just lounge around in comfy clothes and thick socks is one of my favorite self-care activities. Take a look through your sock drawer and see if your current collection needs repair or replacement. Why? Because when the first brisk day arrives, the best thing to do is to curl up on a sofa under a blanket, wearing your comfy clothes, while you drink something warm. FYI – my new favorite pair is yet to arrive but will soon come with the #ELGL21 swag box (why yes, this is a shameless promo for #ELGL21).
  3. Have patience. Be kind. With so much going on, I find it hard to be patient. I want to see COVID go away, I want my community to come back together, and I want to see my Dolphins in their home stadium for my birthday game. And all of these things will happen, eventually. Things are not going to happen quickly and maybe not in the way I want them to but for now I need to be patient. And as a reminder, just because I am frustrated with the current state of things doesn’t mean I can’t be kind.
  4. Embrace the good. I have a wonderful colleague & friend who often texts me to go for something we call “Yin and Yang, Walk and Talk.” In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. During our walk and talks, we discuss the challenges we face and the positives we see. It’s an opportunity for each of us to embrace the good. Some days it’s harder to see the positive on our own but together we can find the interconnected good to every challenge.
  5. Be the good. For the past several years, I have decided to do something different to celebrate my birthday. Instead of hoping for gifts (though I still love a good gift) I honor my day by celebrating others and giving in hidden ways to our community.  I do this is by sending something special to the number of individuals equal to my age that have touched my life throughout the year. Sometimes I send a postcard, sometimes it’s a gift card, and sometimes it’s a text. No matter the medium it I always a message to those I love thanking them for all the good they bring to my world.                                                                             I have the privilege to often have more than I need. In addition to my notes, I multiple my age by ten and then do something special with that amount of money. One year I doubled every tip for the month of September up to $360 to thank the service workers in my life. The woman who gave me a manicure on my actual birthday cried when I handed her a tip equal to the cost of the manicure, it was a very small way to say thanks. Another year I bought $300 in local grocery store gift cards and put them on cars throughout parking lots. I have no clue how people used them but it sure was fun to stick them every where. I have also sent gift cards to everyone on my message list up to $320 encouraging them to take someone they miss to coffee or drinks, on me. I am not sure what this year will hold but it will be my quiet way to push out a little something good.

These are the five ways I hope to bring back my joy and hope this year. What plans do you have to keep and spread your joy this fall? I’d love to hear your strategies.

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