Cultivating Joy in the Summer to Fall Transition

Summer to Fall Transition

The transition between seasons has a way of bringing up a lot of feelings for folks. Some are filled with giddy anticipation over what’s to come, while others practically dread the turning of the calendar’s pages. The summer to fall transition is a particularly emotion-filled time for many people–and, especially so for farmsteaders.

City dwellers and 9-to-5’ers might look forward to autumn as a time to slow down. After a busy season of camping trips, BBQs, and beach days, fall can feel like a welcome respite.

Others are gleefully looking ahead to the holidays and see this time of change as a ramping up for the excitement to come. Social media is flooded with “influencers” who have been trying to out-decorate each other for weeks already, and we’re still in September!

Much of this, of course, is fueled by consumerism and marketers’ desires for you to spend money, but that’s a topic for another day.

Now, if you manage a homestead or family farm, on the other hand, your view of the summer to fall transition might just be a little different.

Rustic pumpkins in front of a white barn are the perfect symbol of autumn harvest

Late-Summer to Fall: The Busiest Time of the Year on the Farm

On our own farm, our dahlias are producing blooms like crazy during this time of year, and we’re harvesting as fast as we can. At the same time, we’re working diligently to prepare our hardy annuals for overwintering.

After all, our first frost is looming, and Mother Nature waits for no one!

{ Related: It’s Like Working Two Farms at Once! }

This may be the busiest time of year on our farm, but it’s important to us that we don’t get too overwhelmed and miss out on the joy that can be cultivated in this season.

Before we dive into the ways we strive to cultivate joy in the summer to fall transition, let’s take moment to relish the memories of our beautiful summer. In this episode, we compiled some of our favorite moments from summer, and while this is not like our typical weekly vlogs, it was a work of the heart for us. We hope you enjoy it!

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The summer to fall transition is a time to work on preparing our farmstead for the coming winter

A Note for Those Who Truly Dread the Summer to Fall Transition

If you’re someone who has a particularly tough time with the changing of seasons, and especially if you live in a Northern latitude, I can attest that the struggle is real.

Fall and winter have always been rough for me. I struggle more with fatigue, my allergies tend to go bonkers, and I’m notorious for catching whatever bug is circulating within our community. It’s almost like my body just wants to hibernate and wait for spring!

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I reached a point where I was willing to explore what might be going on for me this time of year.

I love the Pacific Northwest, but it can be quite dark, damp, cold, and dreary for a good part of the year. My doctor suggested that I try taking Vitamin D supplements to compensate for what my body isn’t getting from sunlight. (Note: Never take supplements without a doctor’s supervision!)

I also went out on a limb and decided to try some light therapy. All that means is that I turn on a special light (this is the one I use) for about 15 minutes each morning while I’m doing other things, and it helps to balance out the circadian rhythm disruptions of this time of year.

{ Related: Living With Dysautonomia }

Honestly, I was surprised at the results of doing light therapy. It really helped to regulate my sleep patterns, and I felt much more energetic in the mornings.

Even though I don’t suffer from anything as serious as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I am still benefiting from this one simple change that only takes me 15 minutes a day. So, if you’ve been on the fence about trying it out, I will certainly be your cheerleader!

Dahlias are abundant during the summer to fall transition!

What’s the difference between happiness and joy?

It’s important to differentiate between the concepts of happiness and joy, because they’re very different ideas.

Happiness is a situational response to something you’re experiencing in the moment. Joy, on the other hand, is a more pervasive and underlying state of being that’s cultivated through a variety of practices over time.

Where happiness is about momentary, circumstantial pleasure, joy is about your foundational sense of well-being. Happiness can certainly enhance our sense of joy, but joy does not depend upon happiness. In fact, joy can even be cultivated through some of the most difficult experiences that life has to offer.

Another simple way to look at it is that happiness is a result of something that happens to you, while joy is about you building something within yourself. Happiness is reactive, and joy is proactive.

In the pursuit of a life well-lived, it is joy that people are seeking rather than happiness. As a post-doc psychosocial researcher, I have spent years of my career examining the differences between individuals’ experiences with happiness and joy, and in all that time, happiness has not played a pivotal role in any way. However, every single research study participant I have ever interviewed spoke at length about the task of cultivating more joy as a component of living a meaningful life.

If you want to live your best life, don’t go in search of happiness. Dig deep, and cultivate joy!

The transition from summer to fall includes so many cozy things from pumpkins and sweaters, to crunchy leaves and warm tea.

How to Cultivate Joy During the Changing Seasons

Whether we’re talking about the summer to fall transition or any other time of the year, it’s important to recognize that seasons are part of a cycle of life. The same is true for the cycles of our own lives.

If we want to cultivate more joy, then ignoring this truth is setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Too many people work to avoid, rather than accept and embrace, the parts of life that are tough. I certainly don’t enjoy dreary, cold weather and months of darkness that come with this season in the Pacific Northwest. But this time serves an important purpose.

We need seasons of rest and renewal if we are to have seasons of growth.

Here are five ways you can cultivate joy through this season. I’ve also included a collection of some of my favorite summer to fall transition quotes that you can share or pin, AND a playlist with all the autumn harvest vibes to keep you cozy!

Summer to fall transition quote - We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy
“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” —Joseph Campbell

1. Practice Gratitude

It’s no wonder why we focus on gratitude in the fall. While I think we need to make this a pillar of daily life all year long, this time of year truly brings it into focus.

The harvest season is about realizing the fruits of our labor and reaping what we have sown. If things have gone well, this is also a time of abundance.

For homesteaders and farmers, this means storing what is plentiful and preparing to hunker down, rest, and reset over the winter. Whether you’re preserving your harvests, stacking wood, or getting your home ready for the months ahead, this time of transition is also a time to reflect with gratitude.

{ Related: How We Prep and Store Food All Year }

While we often frame gratitude around our possessions, comforts, and relationships with others, try exploring what you’re thankful for on a deeper and more personal level, as well. Gratitude can also be a way to practice self-compassion, and when we nourish our own souls, we’re better able to use our gifts in the world.

Summer to fall transition quote - And all at once summer collapsed into fall
“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde

2. Stand in Awe

If you really want to feel a deep connection with this life, take the time to develop your sense of wonder and awe. We’re often so busy that we forget to slow down and just be utterly amazed by the miracles and magic that happen all around us.

It takes a certain amount of mindfulness to experience this type of delight. But these moments contain such a powerful dose of joy that it is worth leaning into the practice.

I often experience this particular emotion when we’re heavily engaged in seed-starting (like we have been lately!). It absolutely baffles me when seedlings appear out of the teeniest seeds imaginable.

{ Related: How We Start Seeds in Soil Blocks }

I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion while witnessing that particular miracle of life. And, I can say without hesitation that our adventures in farming are far more spiritual than I ever could have imagined.

Summer to fall transition quote - And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and autumn was awakened.
“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and autumn was awakened.” – Raquel Franco

3. Act With Purpose

A core component of feeling fulfilled in life is living in alignment with your values. Being intentional about the choices you make and the actions you take can lead to a deeper sense of joy. That’s because it nurtures our feelings of authenticity.

I believe that everything we do in life either moves us closer to or further away from who we want to be. When we start to evaluate our choices and actions in this way, it makes everything much more clear.

How this plays out for us this time of year is by leaning into the work of readying our farm for next year. It would be easier, and probably much more pleasurable, to put off many of the chores that need to be done. When the days are getting shorter and colder, it’s much more difficult to feel inspired to go outside and work.

{ Related: Prepping Our Raised Beds }

The decision to pull on boots and bundle up is about aligning with our desire to break free from the traditional 9-to-5 life. It’s about a yearning to become more independent and free.

When looking at our chores through that lens, I feel a deep sense of joy in the work we do. After all, anyone can act when the conditions are comfortable and easy. The true measure of one’s character comes when confronted with the choice to act in the face of adversity.

This time of year provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on what matters to you, who you want to be, and what kind of life you desire.

Summer to fall transition quote - Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.
“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Brontë

4. Connect With Your Inner Voice

As the rest of the world moves indoors, I always feel like this time of the year is very special. When we’re working around our farm, there is a sense of calm like no other time. It’s almost like we’re the only people in the world.

This time of year provides more opportunity to get quiet and connect inwardly. When I’m planting seedlings or clearing rows, I spend a lot of time processing things that have been on my heart and unpacking emotions.

It’s a time when I learn a lot about myself. Even as the growing season is winding down on the farm, I like to think of this as a time for inner growth.

One of the things that really helps me dig into my soul is music. There is something profound that happens when we listen to music because it has the power to move us emotionally and spiritually.

I even put together this Autumn-themed playlist that captures a lot of the sentiment for this harvest season. I hope you love it!

Summer to fall transition quote - And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves…
“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves…” – Virginia Woolf

5. Set and Achieve Goals

One of the most motivating and joyful things we can do is achieve a goal that we’ve set for ourselves. Each accomplishment is a springboard to the next, and it helps to cultivate a sense of agency within our lives.

Here on our farm, we like to use the seasonal transitions as a time to reflect and refocus. Each quarter, we reevaluate our goals and direction, and we define new opportunities and highlight things we want to pursue.

This is also the time when I’m deep into planning next year’s crops and dreaming about gardens to come. If growing flowers or food is part of your vision, my printable Garden Planner and Journal (HERE) is the perfect tool to help you nurture those dreams and set your goals.

So many people only look at their goals once a year. It’s no wonder why over 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. After all, resolving to do something is not the same thing as actually taking action.

The summer to fall transition is an excellent time to take a look at what you want for your life. Now is the time to set new goals, and begin working toward the future you desire. With each accomplishment, you’ll be rewarded with a deposit into your joy reserve!

Quotes About Joy - If you can’t find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward now, how do you expect to find joy once you get there?

Living Well During the Summer to Fall Transition

The transition from summer to fall is a wonderful season for nurturing more joy on your way to cultivating a life well-lived. Rather than looking at this time as the ending of something, use it grow your joy reserve and invest inwardly.

The most important thing to remember is that joy is not a destination or summit to reach. Think of it more like following the North Star–you can walk in its direction, but you will never reach it. Instead, cultivating joy is a practice that we work toward in small, ordinary moments of life. And this season is full of opportunity!

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