A recent Guardian article reminded me of how, as a child, I always viewed September as a major fresh start and new beginning. A new school year, new textbooks, new notebooks and stationery and the chance to hopefully make up for the mistakes of the previous year!
Every day has the potential to be a fresh start, so there’s no need to wait for 1st Jan. But external cues like the changing of the seasons can be a great reminder to reflect and adjust. Dan Pink’s book ‘When’ does a great job of exploring our attraction to the timing of fresh starts.
I’m personally a very summer person. I dread the shortened evenings and the inevitable dark, cold mornings in winter. But autumn is a middle ground where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get some sunshine during the day, but without the temperatures that can make London life more difficult.
And now that it’s September 1st, there’s definitely the potential for a fresh start. I’m not planning on re-inventing myself! If anything, it will be a continuation of some helpful and healthy habits. My meditation, walks, running, writing in my journal and trying to be more intentional with my use of technology.
Getting it all down on paper
I’m honestly finding it hard to explain just how impactful maintaining a journal has been these past few months. I’ve developed a kind of hybrid of the ‘Bullet Journal’ and an honest-to-goodness reflective log. It’s all contained in a very nondescript Muji notebook I picked up in Japan (but thankfully also available here in the UK for when I run out of space!) and bog standard gel pens.
To keep it vaguely clean and free from damage while in my bag, I’m now housing it in my Bellroy A5 folio. This zips up on three sides and can also accommodate my iPad Mini if I need that. Despite this being an utterly gorgeous piece of leather craftsmanship, I’m ashamed to say it lay unused on a shelf in my study for a terribly long time. An impulse purchase during an online sale. I’m very happy to be using it on a daily basis. In the words of Marie Kondo, this is one possession that most definitely ‘sparks joy’.
As per the Bullet Journal guidelines, I did a scan of what I think September holds for me and noted key events and very key tasks on a couple of pages yesterday. This brought clarity and caused me to pause and think about the month ahead. Not just the tasks that sit in ToDoist, but also the anniversaries, birthdays, events in others’ lives and important activities (work and personal) I’ll be involved in. A very enjoyable and revealing activity.
Having less stuff
As per my plan to have a ‘Year of Less’, I’ve continued to minimise my possessions this month, recently auditing the far-too-many pairs of glasses I’d somehow accumulated in the last few years.
After a brutal review, I’ve only kept three pairs, two of which are sunglasses! The majority of the others are out of date, prescription-wise. One pair was close to falling apart and distinctly beyond repair. One was a shape that I’ve never really been happy with.
Last week’s eye-test revealed that I now need varifocals – talk about a wake-up call to the passing of time! It’s either varifocals or I keep taking my glasses off to read my phone. Ugh. So I got some new frames last week and I’ll have two ‘seeing eye glasses’ and two pairs of sunglasses. Enough for anyone, right?
I also did a clear out of some drawers in the study and discovered a bunch of nice Japanese stationery pieces I’d completely forgotten about. Including some quite useful sticky tabs for notebooks, which have now found a home in my journal.
Once the weather cools down again, I’ll do the regular swap over of summer to winter clothes in the wardrobe and inevitably clear out some more clothing that just doesn’t make the grade. Jeans I’ve been hoping to fit into for years, yet remain unworn. T-shirts that are past their sell-by date. Shorts abused by sunshine, sand and suncream.
Whatever’s happened to my mind in 2019, I’ve flipped from being someone who enjoys owning lots of ‘stuff’ to someone who gets itchy looking at too many possessions and can’t wait to pass them on to others. An interesting change, if not unwelcome.
Here’s to a healthy and productive Autumn.