One of the things I love about living in DC metro area is our experience of 4 seasons. Fall is my absolute favorite—I’m somewhat biased as a “fall baby.” The start of the season also reminds me that Thanksgiving and other holidays are on the horizon, allowing more precious time with loved ones.
Autumn is a visual reminder that nothing stays the same forever. Green leaves turn gorgeous hues of gold and red, before drying up and falling to the ground. It’s also comforting to know that difficult seasons don’t last forever. We might endure harsh conditions in winter, but in spring we see signs of life again. In the summer we witness fullness and growth. Gardeners and farmers have a task each season for the one ahead. They prepare the soil and monitor conditions. The output (harvest) is directly tied to the input – the sowing and preparation.
We all have tasks in each season, don’t we? What season of life are you in right now?
- New parent
- New job
- New marriage
- Newly divorced
- Empty nesting and/or downsizing
Perhaps you’re in maintenance mode yourself, but helping a family member navigate a new life stage:
- Caring for elderly parents
- Parenting a child who’s in a new season – starting kindergarten? (I’ve enjoyed reading so many Facebook posts over the past week – the mix of pride and tears as parents send their little ones off to school for the first time or to a new grade or new school).
- Starting middle or high school
- Starting college
One of the challenges for me is to embrace and hang on to what’s true in each season, even if it’s one I didn’t choose (or wish would quickly pass to the next!). Although I wish I could sometimes skip to the next phase, looking back I’ve found that each season has provided me with the experience and resources that I need to navigate the next. When I feel like I want to skip ahead, or I’m tempted to think “If I only had this or that circumstance…” I have to actively engage in gratitude – which is simply being aware of what I have in the present season.
Wherever you find yourself now, it will not be a wasted experience – if you can allow yourself to remain in the present vs. living in the future. Your outlook changes when you can accept the current challenges and ask yourself, “What am I going to do now to deal with this?” instead of focusing on what seems unfair or wishing things were different.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004.
Elicia McIntyre, a licensed clinical social worker, and graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, has 15 years’ experience providing counseling to adults, children and families in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. She has helped clients navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. Elicia helps couples increase emotional intimacy, and foster healthy connections among family members. She has spent the past 3 years traveling nationally and overseas, providing education and intervention to military service members and their families on communication, stress management and building healthy relationships.