A Fresh Start

Somehow, today is September 1st. This brings a mix of emotions.  I want to hold on to the leisure and freedom of summer as long as I can, but there's something about the chill in the morning air that has me feeling refreshed and excited for the season ahead. I haven't always felt this way, however.

The sun rising on September this morning
Flashback to my ten-year-old self and I was literally counting down the days until the end of summer because I love, love, LOVED going back to school. (To the disapproval of my father- who is a teacher- I actually had a paper chain to help me keep track of the days left until school started) I anxiously awaited the annual letter with the list of necessary school supplies.  Shopping at Staples was my version of going to a toy store. I found inspiration in all of the colorful folders, crisp notebooks, and jazzy pens and pencils. I really did look forward to getting back into the classroom (because I have always loved school), but looking back, I think there is also something about a fresh start that I find appealing.
A lot of people say that September is like the second New Years- a time for recommitting to resolutions, setting goals, and an opportunity to make changes. I completely agree. There's something about the changing of seasons that yields a renewed sense of motivation. Lately, however, I've been trying to get myself away from feeling like I need a fresh start. I think this idea of starting over can get addicting and it can serve as a crutch that prevents me from making any real changes. My sister and I used to always joke when we found ourselves overindulging on Friday nights, "Diet starts Monday!" This sentiment gave us permission to eat whatever we wanted during the weekend, but come Monday, we had to revamp our healthy eating efforts and get back to the gym. This was certainly not a very balanced approach (we would have been better off eating our favorite foods in moderation all week long instead of binging on the weekends), but the main point here is that we clung to the notion that we could start fresh and all of our undesirable actions would be forgotten.
Believing that we can always start over lets us off the hook for making mindful decisions in the moment. We fall into a trap of thinking that we can shut the door on the past and open up a new, better door to the future. This applies to more than diet plans or exercise routines. I know I used to have a tendency to view my endocrinologist appointments as an opportunity for a fresh start. I would see my doctor, get my A1C reading, and commit to diabetic perfection starting the next day. This was a way of consoling myself for how I fell off track in the weeks or months prior. But my promises to be a "better" diabetic were generally lost as soon as I had a high or low blood sugar because I felt that it was all worthless. So, the cycle would begin again. If this pattern reoccurs continuously (in any aspect of life), all of a sudden you are left feeling like you aren't good enough, desperately needing a fresh start and, ultimately, a new you.
Now, this is not to say that we should never set goals or make fluctuations in our routines. Challenging yourself to train for a race or read the news every day or cook at home 3 nights a week are examples of changes we can make in an effort to improve our quality of life, while not trying to completely overhaul every aspect of who we are. This requires that we cultivate a deep respect for ourselves. If we can do that, then we will come to a point where we are tuning in frequently enough to adjust as necessary and are able to forgive any missteps along the way instead of letting them push us entirely off balance.
That being said, I still love to go to Staples at this time of year!
New notebooks for blog ideas & inspiration
Do you look forward to this shift of seasons? In what areas of your life do you find yourself needing a fresh start? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!