As the wheel of the year turns, we celebrate Samhain, also known as Halloween, a time to honor our ancestors and embrace a new season. Autumn is quickly yielding to winter’s freeze, and the season offers us a time to honor our ancestors and those who have passed before us.
But autumn also offers us something more. It is certainly a time of remembrance, but it is also a time of release. Just as autumn leaves tumble toward the ground, we release what is no longer working in our lives: habits that are holding us back, thinking patterns that are moving us backward instead of forward, stale projects that have become less than fulfilling.
We understand that this season isn’t an end but part of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It’s only by the trees shedding their leaves and entering the frozen winter season that we can celebrate the spring’s renewal. Even in winter, the forest holds its promise of life’s return.
“Everything lost is found again,
In a new form, in a new way;
Everything hurt is healed again,
In a new time, in a new day.”
At Samhain, or Halloween, we can take time to reflect on that which has left our lives, preparing ourselves for something new. We offer gratitude for the harvest, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, but also prepare for a new season, a new year.
Last year, I left my teaching position at the university to focus more on my other two jobs, my job in public relations and my role as a writer and blogger. I plunged into social media, joining the WANA 1011 tribe. And I really, truly started to figure out what I wanted in my life.
I realize now that I had kept myself so busy—wanting to impress, determined to pave the road to success—that I forgot to be present in my life. I forgot to enjoy each season. I needed to slow down. Because I’d been so busy checking items off my to-do list, creating goals and achieving them, I’d lost touch with my inner guide.
“We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
–Jane Austen, in Mansfield Park
I’ve still been busy. But health issues forced me to take a time-out and shift my priorities. I’d been so focused on the mind, I’d lost the body and soul parts of the equation. 2012 became a year of searching for balance and equilibrium. I don’t know if I’ve achieved them, but my inner guide tells me I’ve set off on the right path. Health mysteries remain. In September, I suffered a migraine so severe that I actually ended up in the ER. It scared me, forced me to realize that I have to live with the limitations I’m given. That doesn’t mean I can’t work, merely that I’m working within those limitations. That migraine got so out of hand because I was too caught up in all the different roles I play to push the pause button and take care of myself.
This year hasn’t all been roadblocks. I submitted my first manuscript for publication and, while I received rejections, the criticism I received was both kind and useful. It helped fuel my desire to revise my story and continue submitting. I’m learning and growing in the craft of writing. I attended a conference and presented a workshop on author brand, and I finally started feeling comfortable with my blogging voice.
Most of all, despite—or perhaps because of—the bumps in the road, I reconnected with the life I truly want, the one I wanted for a long time but lost sight of. I’d always been grateful, for my work, for the people I love, but I hadn’t appreciated my health. I realize now that I have to learn to take better care of myself. The life of the mind is great, but the body, too, deserves our attention. And I’ve had more time for spiritual practice—even if, sometimes, that practice simply means a long, slow walk in the park on a beautiful day. I’ve begun to cultivate, once more, a life of simplicity and frugality. And, as usual, my husband and I are dreaming dreams together—a house and some roots, a life close to nature, travels both near and far, a journey taken hand-in-hand.
We all move within these seasons of our lives. In the past year, I’ve watched a close friend uproot her life and rebuild it in another place, sowing the seeds of a new life that has come to offer a depth that, I believe, is surprising even her. By letting go, my friend found something far more fulfilling than she could’ve by clinging to her old life.
So, as I turn toward Samhain, I embrace the new and release the old ways of thinking that don’t work anymore. Because that is the only way toward the next season, the next harvest, the next year—the way toward new dreams, new beginnings, new goals, new stories, new journeys. What about you? What have you let go of this year? What have you gained because of it?
Whether you celebrate Samhain, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, or All Hallows Eve, I hope you have a great day and a great season. Blessed be.