Learning to harvest the crop and settle in for winter

Living close to nature and on a farm keeps me deeply connected to the seasons and cycles of nature, which in turn serves as a daily reminder to stay close to my own.

Last night I stepped outside at 9pm for my evening ritual of a herbal tea and reading time and it was already dark. The seasons are changing. As I see the farmer harvest the fields at this late summer juncture, I am always reminded of the bounty summer provides and the sadness that can arise if I feel I haven't harnessed the season as fully as I could have.

This summer I feel filled up by the many sun filled days of rest, adventure and connection that I have been so lucky and feel so grateful to have experienced this year. Even though this summer has been different in many ways, I don't feel I'm arriving at the door of autumn lacking. The slowness of a more spacious schedule has allowed me to soak up the summer in a way I've not been able to since I was a child on summer holidays!

This turning of summer to autumn can be one of the more challenging transitions for many and it certainly has been and can be for me too both in terms of both the seasons of nature and my own inner seasons (the shift from the follicular phase to the luteal after ovulation). And so much of that has been to do with how fully I feel I have been able to embrace my own inner summer. If I have fully said yes to my summer phase then the no of my autumn phase feels like a welcome invitation to slow down and turn inwards rather than a painful loss of time and possibility. In order to fully say yes I have to plan ahead, mark my cycle days and seasons in my diary, plan my life and my work to my cycle (including carving out LOTS of space), decide what my priorities are, make a plan to focus on and fulfil them and then most importantly surrender and let go of any expectations that it will in reality look anything like that in real life. A lack of fulfilment can be one of the most powerful triggers for PMS symptoms.

To view the phases of the menstrual cycle through the lens of the seasons of nature is a rich and endlessly insightful practice of honouring our cyclical nature. As I watch the world turn and the seasons change it is an ever present reminder of the transitions and changes unfolding with my own body.

Without these seasonal changes as a reminder to shift pace it would be so easy to burnout over and over again with the societal expectation of perpetual growth knocking loudly at your door. I know I certainly did this for many years. Cyclical living is a reminder of the importance of surrendering the expectation of consistency and opening up to doing different things in different ways as our bodies and our energy shifts gears. To try to carry on as though nothing has changed would mean I would have be sitting in the dark unable to see the words of my book last night but so often this is how we approach the autumn of our cycles and then wonder why we're so exhausted, depleted and unmotivated. To learn to harvest the crops and then settle in for the winter is a beautiful practice of celebrating what has been, reaping the rewards of your work and then soaking in the ebb to your flow.

But I get why it's hard to let go. In many ways late summer can feel like an ending both in terms of nature and our own cycles. Energy is waning with the light, motivation may dwindle for a while, moods may dip and if you enjoy consistency this shift might feel challenging but to wane is to win and there are gifts in the dying off of summer.

Through an agricultural lens seeds are sown with a plan late summer mirroring the process that takes place in the wild. Through a wild lens late summer flowers die off and turn to seed, seeds that are perfectly formed for distribution and locomotion. Eventually the autumn winds blow, the seeds disperse and they travel in the air or with their animal transporters until eventually they settle and land whenever they do. Some will thrive and others will die or provide nourishment to others and that is why the plants and the trees must cultivate so many seeds and derive ingenious and creative ways to maximise their potential for life.

No seed is lost but not all seeds fulfil their destiny as the plant intended. When the seeds land they lay dormant through winter before reawakening in the spring. As the seeds come alive they first spend a long time beneath the soil strengthening their taproot and creating a firm foundation before even thinking about emerging through the soil and out into the world. So much of the creative process is a risk, so much of it unseen and those early exploratory days above the soil in spring are vulnerable. Not all seeds become plants or trees, some become nourishment for others. So trust that the seeds contained within you at this late summer juncture know how to grow and all that you need to do is provide them with a quiet, dark space to rest for the winter, fertile soil and wings to fly.

Carly x

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