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Fall is a Time to Take Stock, Let Go, Gather and Prepare

In the fall, we are naturally inclined to collect ourselves and to gather and prepare for the harsh winter months. The fall can also be a time to turn a little more inward to examine and let go of what no longer serves us before the cold weather sets in.

In the summer, we can get away with ignoring our
“stuff.” By “stuff,” I refer to unexamined thoughts,
patterns of thinking and behaving, certain worldviews/judgments, and emotional baggage,
and more-or-less the metaphorical garbage that
clutters up our lives and keeps out our highest good.

If we leave our “stuff” unexplored and unexamined, it may be a long, hard winter where we remain shut in with what no longer serves us. In this way, we draw out our suffering and prolong what we do not want.  We can become unhappy and even depressed. For some of us, depression waits for us in the wintertime as a rule. What can you do to prepare, heal, and grow?

Examine Your Stuff

5 Ways to Explore your “Stuff”:

1. Reflect on areas in your life that are unpleasant and causing distress. Identity what needs to be changed and also what cannot be changed. Accept what cannot be changed or what is out of your control.  Know that you DO have control over how you show up in the world, what thoughts you latch unto, and how you feel.

2. Take ownership of your actions and experience. Notice your part in your experience. Know that you have the power to change the way you look at things and change the way you act (or react). This will ultimately change the results, outcomes and, ultimately, your experience of life. Ask, “how can I resolve this in a way that serves my highest good and the highest good of others?”

3. Forgive yourself. This is often the most challenging thing to do, yet so important to heal “our stuff.” Recognize that you did what you did because you were operating out of the understanding, knowledge, and awareness that you had at the time.  It’s human. And so forgive yourself that.

4. Forgive others. Also challenging. Know that forgiveness is not about letting others off the hook. Forgiveness is not allowing others to trample over us, or win, nor does forgiveness accept their part (their behavior, actions, etc.) as OK.  Instead it is about acknowledging and accepting what happened, and setting yourself free. Forgiveness truly is the way to begin releasing the “stuff.”

5. Resolve to continue working on it. This process will certainly not clear out your unhelpful “stuff” overnight. Spend the fall months working through the “stuff” and these 5 steps. When thoughts come up that tempt you into your former reactionary mode, remember to pause. Know that you are working on it. Trust the process*.

*Please note that this may be too much to do on your own, and is not as simple as it sounds. Seek out a counsellor, therapist, or coach to assist you when this is the case. If you are worried about affordability, look around for free, reduced cost, or sliding-scale services.

Some books that you may find helpful during this time are Marianne Williamson’s “A Return To Love,” Byron Katie’s, “The Four Questions,” Louise Hay’s “Heal your Life,” and Wayne Dyer’s, “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Purge, Tidy and Clean

While going through the process of clearing out the emotional “stuff.” It’s also good to do a thorough, pre-winter clearing out and cleaning of our homes and workspaces.  Discard more clothes that do not bring joy. Cut that ratty towel up and fold the squares into new cleaning rags. Organize your cabinets and cupboards so that all is orderly, and ready, and working well. You may wish to check out Marie Kondo’s books, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and “Spark Joy.”

Clearing out “our stuff” can also be fun. We can start to feel excited about the life we desire to lead. How would you show up in the world if you were free from your “stuff”?

Establish Rituals

Rituals can give us special moments to look forward to when things seem bleak outside or inside.  It is a way of giving back to ourselves, acknowledging our hard work, celebrating life, and can further help us release “stuff.”  If you have kids, they absolutely love small occasions to look forward to (even teens do, although they may not show it). 

Begin Small Rituals for Fall and Winter:

- Light a candle at mealtime
- Designate one sweater as your “house sweater”
  and wear house slippers
- Make tea after dinner for the household using a
  special pot and teacups
- Take weekly baths in Epsom salts
- Start baking Christmas goods with kids early and
- Get in the habit of running an essential oil diffuser
  and try out different blends
- Hold Sunday night-board-game-extravaganzas with family (so many fun games out there)
  or designate a “puzzle table” where anyone throughout the day may sit down and
  assemble some pieces
- Organize once-a-month special gatherings with friends, such as rotating dinner clubs, art
  and wine nights, classic film and dress up evenings, etc.
- Press leaves to decorate cards or place about as home décor

It’s the little things that can break up a daunting, looming perception of the coming winter months. Come up with your own, unique and magical rituals to sustain and comfort you and your family. 


Go Into the Winter Strong

With a willingness to look at our “stuff,” with a desire to purge, clean, and heal ourselves, AND with the support of nurturing rituals, we can enter the cold and dark winter months from a place of power and strength. Be in the moment. Enjoy. And keep working on yourself. You’re worth it.


Janine M. Ray MA, BA, ATR-BC

Janine is an art therapist and clinical counsellor in Vancouver, BC. Janine sees both online and in-person clients. For more blog posts, and additional information, please visit, www.artforchange.ca