“New year, new me.”
We have all heard or been guilty of using this hipster mantra and hopeful phrase, often attached to January 1st.
When the clock strikes midnight and the calendar rolls over—among the glitter, confetti and champagne—we are filled with the hope of second chances.
Every ending is followed by a beginning. December 31st isn’t life’s only ending—not by a longshot.
To me, the real inner renewal happens in September—hands down my favorite month of the year.
I can close my eyes and just hear the crunching of leaves beneath my feet and smell the fall air mixed with the scent of fireplaces burning in the distance.
Pumpkin Spice everything begins to pop up on shelves and it is now acceptable to dig out our Uggs from storage. But more than this, September is a month to reinvent ourselves.
As a child, September was the mark of an even more important “new year,” a new year of school. We were surrounded by new and exciting things, from the fresh new haircuts on our heads to the freshly sharpened pencils in our backpacks. (To this day I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, it just gets my creativity moving!) We finally get to meet our new teachers, and we make new friends in September.
If you had a bad year at school last year, now is your chance to make this one better.
The chalkboards were wiped clean in June and we now begin with a fresh, clean slate.
Even the weather—here in New Jersey at least—shouts renewal in September. The crisp air begins to blow through our open windows, kissing our cheeks and rejuvenating our souls.
We can learn a lot about renewal from the trees.
The trees begin to shed their leaves, as if in detox from a long, harsh year. It is then—throughout the fall and winter—that they can begin to work on themselves from the inside out. After months of rejuvenation, spring comes and with it the trees begin to bloom and come to life with vibrant colors.
When we work on ourselves from the inside first, beauty begins to pour out on the outside—vibrantly, like the trees.
This September I found myself sitting in front of a journal, as I have so many times before, professing my goals on paper.
It briefly occurred to me that this new list I had created was an exact replica of the year prior, and the one before that. It is the same goals every single year and every single year I say, “This will be the year I succeed.”
I always seem to fall short somewhere along the way—get lost in translation, make a wrong turn and find myself back to square one photocopying my hopes onto a list once again.
“Be a better mom and wife.”
These are just some of the things I repeatedly scribble down year after year.
It wasn’t until someone recently reached out to me that I began to awaken.
“What are you really trying to say? Can you dig deeper?”
I thought back to my lists and considered why for years I have struggled with the changes I so badly want to make in my life. It soon occurred to me that these goals I penned onto paper were superficial and typical.
Like a tree this was my bark, my protection from the outside elements.
In order to make the changes I so desperately want in my life I need to journey completely through my Autumn. I need to shed my dead leaves—the baggage I carry—and start from the inside.
What am I trying to say when I look at my goals? I’m shouting “Help me” in Morse code.
“Lose weight” really reads: “I’m a closet eater who turned to food after I recovered from my addictions 13 years ago.”
In essence I replaced one harmful addiction with another. Yo-yo dieting, latest fads, skipping meals…always to fall back into the same routine of emotional binge eating and feeling worthless afterwards. No diet will help a food addiction alone, just as avoiding a bar will not help the alcoholic. This goes much deeper than counting calories and working out.”
“Be happy” really reads: “I struggle with anxiety and depression.”
I never fully gotten over the death of my newborn son 13 years ago.
I’m afraid of everything in life. I am in premature menopause at 30 years old and struggling with everything that goes with it.
“Be happy” also means: “I have struggled with self-esteem issues for a majority of my life.”
I look to social media for likes and praise. I overshare my happy occasions while burying my anxieties and depression. I over-extend myself because I want to be liked, because I don’t like myself most of the time.
“Be a better wife and mom” means: “I cry sometimes because I don’t feel like I am doing my best.”
Menopause at 30 has left me exhausted, irritable, with zero energy and libido. Embarrassed to talk to my doctor or friends about these symptoms, I try to bury them under Pinterest inspired meals, crafts, activities and dates.
“Look I’m ok, my life is good.”
But on the inside I snap at the ones I love. I often feel on edge and my relationships are struggling as a result. I find it hard to drag myself out of bed sometimes, even though I do it with a smile on my face. I miss the intimacy that my marriage once had and fear that I will lose my husband forever if it continues to be this way. An extremely loving and supportive man deserves to have a wife who is fully there for him as well.
So here I am—naked and vulnerable as a tree in the winter time.
I suppose we can never really blossom until we have become our most vulnerable.
I begin my journey much differently this year then the years in the past.
This year I see I need look for help and support to reach my goals. Perhaps if I do my list will look a whole lot different next year.
So if you too are feeling the need to start fresh this September, join me.
Make changes for the better. We don’t have to wait until the new year, because the real changes happen when we shed our leaves in the fall.
Author: Christina Zambrano
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Photo: Author’s Own