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A letter about seasonal change and beginning when it feels right.
I’m attempting to type this letter to you today with a sleeping cat draped over my wrists. His name is Cyrus, and he came into my life last September, when a friend found him in a dumpster at a gas station in Minnesota and asked me if I was intersted in adopting him.
I’ve always liked September — way before Cyrus, and even before Starbucks introduced pumpkin spice lattes. The breezes become cooler and drier, scented with a brisk autumn spiciness as the leaves begin to change.1
And I know that, for a lot of people, fall signifies a sort of seasonal dimming, heralding the oncoming winter months with the dying back of plants and darker days, and encouraging us to pull coats, hats, and blankets out of chests and drawers and closets.
There’s a hint of melancholy to fall, which we combat with crackling fires and apple picking and some seriously disturbing Halloween decorations, but for me there’s something else present, too.
A sense of renewal.
You might be disappointed to learn that I feel this way not because of any particular spiritual significance, celestial alignment, etc., but because of something much more mundane — the years I spent trudging through the United States public school system.
To me, fall smells not only of apple cider and dried grass and burning leaves, but of newly sharpened pencils, smooth pink erasers, and fresh notebooks. These smells carry with them an inevitable sense of possibility, the grace of a fresh new start.
(Yes, I know that school technically starts in late August, but it’s still September that makes me nostalgic for these things.)
In fact, I find that it’s almost a relief when August winds down and September approaches, like at the end of a long road trip, when you begin to see familiar landmarks and signs for your hometown.
January has never held this same sense of new-ness for me — New Year’s Eve and Day feel more like a desperate plea for something, anything, to drag us from the doldrums of winter, a fresh coat of colorful makeup on the same peeling skin.
This is why several years ago, I started doing my annual stuff (a technical term for business planning, strategizing, budgeting, goal setting, etc.) for the upcoming year in September. It just felt right.
Last year, I asked my husband and business partner Tim if he would be okay if we moved our fiscal new year to September, so that our Q1 would encompass September, October, and November.
“Does that change anything?” he asked, brow furrowed.
“Nope,” I said, referring to the way our business would continue to run. And it didn’t.
But also, in a different way, it did.
It made me feel glad. It gave me a better sense of alignment and connection between my life and the world around me. And most of all, it reminded me that a lot of the things we use to structure our lives don’t actually matter.
The seasons go around in a neverending circle, a shape which technically has no starting or ending point (outside of any point which we might arbitrarily assign).
If I wanted to shift how we thought about the months of the year because it felt truer, I could.
If I wanted to feel at peace with my age and my weight and my financial situation outside of the societal norms marketed and sold to us, I could.
If I wanted to become a debut author at the age of 46, or 52, or 65, and stop regretting that I hadn’t published my first novel before I was 30, I could.
If you want to write a book or get in to watercolor painting or learn how to knit, you can. You can start now.
Because the beginning is whenever you decide it is.
Happy New Year.
Words & warmth,
Write Now Podcast Re-Launch
In accordance with the new year (a.k.a. September), I have re-launched the Write Now podcast!
Write Now with Sarah Werner resumed September 6, 2023, and episodes will continue to air weekly on Wednesdays moving forward. The newest episodes include:
Selling Art Or Selling Out? with Asa Merritt - WN 154
How should we navigate selling our creative work? I speak with Asa Merritt about pitching a project, which hill(s) to die on, and the pros and cons of telling a personal story on a commercial platform.
It's Good To Have A Hobby - WN 155
What is writing to you — a hobby, a second job, a meditative practice? Something else? All of the above? This week, we’re talking about the role of writing in our lives and how we can feel more satisfied and fulfilled in doing what we love.
If you’ve never listened to Write Now, well… now’s a great time to start. And you’ll have a new episode to enjoy this upcoming Wednesday the 20th. :)
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Cheers, and happy writing.
At least, they do here in the Northern Hemisphere. To all of my lovely Southern Hemisphere readers, I apologize for my bias (but hopefully the message will still resonate).