It’s officially pumpkin spice season … er, I mean autumn.

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek
4 min readSep 20, 2022

The light fades a bit earlier each day and the mornings and evenings have gotten crisper — at least here in New England. It’s as if September 1 rolls around and Mother Nature decides it’s time; something must change.

I’ve never been a big fan of this transition. Maybe it’s because I really love the long-lighted days — June is my favorite month — or because as I age, I struggle to tolerate the cold. Either way, the change of seasons from summer to fall is a struggle for me.

I was sharing this sentiment with a good friend, who listened, gave me a half smile, and told me that I was just looking at it through the wrong lens. She relishes this season. I say it’s too early for pumpkin spice, and my friend has already decorated her home in shades of orange and red. I mourn the loss of ripe watermelon, and she’s stirring a fragrant pot of butternut squash soup. And, it’s not just the sights and scents of the season.

In her mind, this transition — more so than any other — offers us an opportunity to think about how we want to finish the year. In other words, we can use this transition time to get better and smarter … so that we improve our outcomes.

She’s right. I look at fall as a time to hunker down. She sees it as an opportunity to lean in. So, how do we do that? Well, rather than fall back, let’s look ahead. Here’s a quick checklist to help you (and me!) make the most of the next several weeks.

  1. Take stock of the year so far.
    There are just about 100 days of 2022 left. That’s plenty of time to course correct or maintain your momentum. Make a list of all you’ve accomplished, and all you haven’t accomplished yet. Rather than wait until New Year’s Eve, make some resolutions now. And attach real, attainable goals to them. How can you end the year on a good — or even a great — note?
  2. Focus on your health and happiness.
    In autumn, the natural world strips itself and clears away dead foliage in preparation for winter. But it also provides — in abundance — some of the most glorious foods. Take advantage of crisp apples, pears, figs, nuts, and other autumnal treats — especially those you can pick yourself. Of course, if what your body craves is ice cream, well, then this is the perfect season for that too; health and happiness are about balance.
  3. Nature is beckoning.
    Even if you think nothing beats a midsummer afternoon at the beach, autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons (especially here in New England). Block an hour in the afternoon (yes, during work hours!) to go explore the woods as leaves turn, fall, and crunch underfoot. If you’re lucky enough to live by the shore, grab a blanket and enjoy a near-deserted beach. Take a bike ride to a local farm stand and enjoy some apple cider or a donut. Get outside and embrace the air.
  4. Get back to learning.
    For better or worse, from the age of five or so, most of us equate fall with “back to school.” We may have left our alma maters years ago, but that doesn’t mean we stop learning. Create your own schedule and fill your “semester” with skill-building courses or anything you’ve always wanted to try — photography, knitting, financial management — but haven’t found the time to. You can find lots of ideas on Percipio, including Aspire journeys like, Sustainability and Restoring our Earth.
  5. Make a difference.
    With a New Year and thankful holidays on the horizon (Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Thanksgiving), this is the ideal time to count your blessings and do what you can for others. The coming winter months can be particularly hard on those in need. So, volunteer at a food bank; clean out your closets and donate hats, scarves, and mittens to a local shelter; or offer your time and expertise to your community. You’ll find that helping others is one of the best ways to beat any seasonal doldrums.

Of course, everyone is different. Some of us are morning people; some don’t get up until noon. Some yearn for sunshine; and others can’t wait to hit the slopes. I may daydream about next summer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy autumn and all it has to offer.

Including pumpkin spice.