by Janice Hunter
Pegging out laundry
Damp and fragrant in the sun
She lifts up her face
Listens to the sheets flapping
In the breeze, surrendering
Ready to set sail
What’s September like where you are? Is it spring? Or has the frazzling
heat of August started to fade, leaving you fresher and less floppy? Do you
take on new clients, begin new ventures?
September feels like the start of a new year for me, with its promise of exciting
new beginnings, classes and semesters. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent
most of my life as a student or a teacher or because my birthday falls at the
end of August and both my children were born in the autumn. Whatever the reason,
this is a time for freshly sharpened pencils, for blank pages and tempting piles
of books, something to look forward to on darkening days as the nip of autumn
turns into the unexpected bite of winter.
I have a cupboard in the dining room where I store all the Christmas candles,
scented oils and festive season bargains bought in the January sales. Wedged
at the back are some wooden Shaker hearts, hand-painted a warm, folk art red.
They were a free gift with a magazine and I always planned to do something creative
with them. Waiting in there, patiently for years, they’ve soaked up the
fragrance of cinnamon, apple and spice. If I’m ever saddened by the fading
brightness of autumn, or tempted to see it as a season of loss rather than a
time of fruitful abundance, I furtively open those doors and inhale the excitement
of another season nestled within, like Russian dolls.
As evolving souls in human bodies, we’re meant to grow, to feel the seasons,
to surrender to the beauty of each one – but like many people, I’m not
very good at letting go. My daughter started high school a few weeks ago and
I spent an anxious, distressed day pacing like a caged animal, unable to relax
until she burst through the door beaming. My dad is eighty three this month
and has started to prepare for a different kind of letting go, sorting through
his treasures, putting his life and house in order.
One thing that calms me when the months and years seem to be spinning out of
control is to anchor myself in the everyday details of creating a life I love.
I try to cultivate gratitude and focus on the people I love, on the things that
inspire me and on the thoughts, emotions and details that are within my power
to change; then I just do my best to trust the rest to the universe.
Every autumn, I get a craving, an almost visceral nesting instinct to clear
out all the debris of an old year. Out go old passions and paradigms, making
room for abundance, new experiences, new people and new lessons to flow into
my life. Clutter clearing – my own and other people’s – brings me
so much pleasure, it should be X-rated. Deciding what to do with every sheet
of paper, every object, every garment or piece of fabric is a living, breathing
meditation, a tangible way to strengthen my choice muscles and ask some important
- If I had ten minutes to rescue
my belongings, would I take this?
- Do I really, really love
and need this or am I keeping it ‘just in case it comes in useful’?
- Could someone else get more
benefit from this or love it more?
- Am I keeping this just to
please someone else? Or because it came from someone I care about?
- Is this anchoring me in the
past when I need to be moving on?
- Is this heartstoppingly beautiful?
- Will the kids be glad I saved
this in the attic for them or roll their eyes in years to come and wonder
what on earth I was thinking about?
- Does this object exude positive,
- What does it say about me?
And do I like what it says about me?
- Does it symbolise a value,
something good, something precious?
- Do I spend more time dusting
souvenirs than I do making memories?
Every time I shred paper and clear out my clutter, my coaching and poetry get
better, the house becomes more spacious and easier to clean, we all have more
energy… and I lose weight! As well as space and energy, a cathartic clean-out
also frees up time and money. A few weeks ago, we had a family holiday in a
small, white cottage by a sea loch; it was funded entirely by what we’d
earned from family car-boot sales and by what we’d saved by recycling
What could you let go of this autumn to prepare the ground for the
seeds of a new season?
Hunter is a writer, teacher and IAC certified coach who
currently specialises in homelife coaching – helping people
create authentic, spirit filled lives and homes they love –
and in supporting coaches on their certification journeys.
She lives in Scotland with her husband and two children.