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Downshifting into fall
Before we begin:
For a Cosmopolitan story, I'm looking for your true stories about the small moment you knew a relationship was over. Share yours in a super-brief survey here.
I'm talking about the insignificant, hyper-specific, nontraditional moment you just knew things were headed south, like when your partner pouted for hours after you beat them at Scrabble, or he would never give you the booth seat at restaurants. (Both of these are real-life examples, sigh.)
Answers from women, femmes, and nonbinary folks are all welcome. And feel free to share!
Since I’ve been back in Austin—after five weeks away—I’ve been nesting, hard. I needed to move my clothes and toiletry items back into place after making space for a housesitter’s stuff, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to start from scratch and rearrange things. I folded clothes via the KonMari method for a couple of hours (which is highly unlike me) and now my drawers look like a visually pleasing Tetris board. I got rid of things that didn’t spark joy along the way. I tidied my skin routine and beauty items. I lingered in bed with my cats. I caught up on the fresh pile of New Yorkers collecting on my nightstand. I said no to any and all socializing.
I feel refreshed! And ready for more.
As I’ve said here before, I’m learning how to lean into the seasons of my life. And this one is clear: It’s time for a September reset.
Growing up in California, I was always a summer baby. But ever since I moved to the East Coast back in 2010, fall has been my favorite season. I live for leaf-peeping and steaming drinks and curling up under the comforter. I dream of sitting on my couch and slowly picking apart a juicy, perfectly ripe pomegranate with my fingers, seed by staining seed. These pleasures are so basic and sensorial; my body craves them.
When I recently stepped into a kitschy home goods shop on a 90-degree day and saw it stocked with Halloween tchotchkes like pigs with bat wings and skeleton candles, I was ecstatic. I love spooky season and can’t wait for it to begin in earnest. Plus, the temperatures are dropping quickly in Austin in the coming week—all the way down to the high 80s! For us, that’s truly something to celebrate.
I just wrote a content marketing piece about how fall is a powerful season of rest and refocus for many people. (Google “September reset” right now and you’ll find countless articles on the subject, and I’m willing to bet you’re feeling the pull toward respite as well.) That back-to-school, sharpen your pencils, get extra cozy feeling is potent. Its psychological effects (just like those of the New Year and spring cleaning) can genuinely help you stick to whatever you wish to achieve or focus on for the rest of the year. Seize the day!
I enjoyed the hell out of summer. My easy August away in California was everything I wished it to be, and I feel full and centered, if a bit gluttonous. I ate and drank my way through the state, and it was glorious. I saw Taylor Swift perform on her last night in LA! I got plenty of time outside in the sunshine near forests, lakes, and oceans. I felt myself relax in the company of those I love.
But my body is begging for its routines back, and I want to feel healthier mentally and physically. Plus, I want to dig into work and creativity in this precious month I have at home before regular travel starts interfering with my schedule for the rest of the year.
So, my word for September is simple. Here’s my plan to make this month count:
Recommit to healthy routines
I feel best when I follow through on the routines I’ve set up to empower Future Me. Boundaries are good! I thrive within them, and they went out the window the last couple of months. So to get me back to my best place, I’m eating clean, I’m not drinking alcohol for at least a month, and I’m lifting every other day. Now that the temps are dropping a bit, I’m reinstating daily walks. (This is my easiest habit to keep—it’s like my feet just lead me out the door.) I’m doing my morning pages. I’m deleting Instagram and TikTok off my phone. I’m giving myself bonus points for daily meditation (ha, if I hit 10 days a month that’s a good month) and Sunday yoga.
What didn’t I buy this summer?! I made it rain out there, and that was fun, but I’m ready to rein it in. For the next month, it’s necessary spending only. I won’t eat out or get delivery; I’ll cook at home and plan ahead for outings instead. I’ll be mindful of what I buy at the grocery store (it’s tough to say no to the fall candles at TJ’s). I will make zero purchases on clothes, things, or entertainment. (With one caveat: I am going to buy tickets to see Sweeney Todd on Broadway in October and that’s that!)
Make no plans
I’m a doer. When it comes to making plans and finding fun things to do, I’m Type A all the way. I like this about myself! But I also tend to fill my schedule with plays, concerts, classes, museum dates, etc. that I’m only halfheartedly excited about. Plus, after a big trip I put a lot of planning and energy into, I’m feeling decision fatigue. So I’m giving myself the month off. I’m not allowed to make extra plans; instead, I will receive invitations from friends with joy. And, honestly, my September social calendar is already stacked! That feels really good.
I’m making some more space for quiet time and reflection this month, and more me-time can sometimes mean more self-negativity. I want to keep practicing self-love, and treating myself with as much kindness and support as I treat others. I’m going to focus on redirecting negative thoughts this month, and gently correcting my thoughts when I hear them speak ill of me.
I’m excited for this opportunity to reboot, and grateful my home is such a place of comfort for me. Happy (almost) fall, y’all!