September has always marked a significant moment for me in the calendar of changes. It’s close in impact to a new year change. The why of September’s impact, like it is for many, is having grown up in a school system in which the new grade started in September. Yup, end of summer, and back to school. My mom made it a tradition to take a picture of my sister and I on the first day of school. Before we would walk to Braemar Elementary. In the picture, often holding up the number of fingers to indicate what grade we were now entering.

I remember as a kid, and into my teen and young adult years, liking the transition. Sure, I also remember a fair amount of sadness that summer was over. Because summer was the time when we got to go on holiday with parents, with grandparents. Summer was being with cousins. And summer, where I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, was also, somewhat jokingly, three weeks long. I was the kind of kid / teen / young adult that appreciated the shift. I was glad for the school year to end. But I was also glad for a new one to begin. New friends. New subjects. New teachers. I liked it when summer started — there is undeniable “schools out” fever. I liked the shift to a summer job. And then, in late August and early September, I like the shift from that summer job back to classmates and a part-time job.

Well, September doesn’t actually sneak up on anything, but it does feel like a rather abrupt turn. “How did it get to be September already?” The brain will catch up.

This morning I find myself reflecting on that old narrative of change from summer to September. Because that shift also included some regrets — did I do enough in the summer? Because now it’s time to get back to work. Did I do enough of what people are supposed to do in the summer, before getting back to work (no, I don’t know what that means — I just remember feeling it)? It’s a bit of a weird story line, isn’t it. It’s got a fair amount of trying to assure or assuage some fear of “not enough.” Oh dear, now there’s and old and pervasive story line from my life, and I know, for many of us.

With adult life, often comes the ability to change the way we think about change. Or to re-narrate, and sometimes release, the old stories of what was supposed to be. If we are lucky, we find ourselves into more conscious choice of what a season of life meant. Or what it meant in memory that is now available as another choice.

Well, those are a few thoughts on a Monday, Labor Day, where I live, the start of the first “work week” of September, 2019. With little pangs of sadness that summer is shifting, but with grown desire to be in a joy of what is more permanent, and a joy in what shifts. And with appreciation for the simple, far-less-calendared reality of things like these Black-Eyed Susans growing in my front yard, that have been astonishingly plentiful this year.


Three Questions


It’s important to pay attention to transitions. Movements from one place to another. From one rhythm to another. From the immediate view to the long view, and vice versa. It’s important to offer ourselves and others the kindness of transitional spaces. I’m glad to have this picture above from near Pinbarren, Queensland, snapped on a delightful, recent walk that reminds me of transitions.

As a closing movement for The Circle Way Practicum, it’s important to pay attention to the transition from retreat and learning space to the routines and demands that many of us return to. It’s quite a change of pace. Like going from an unpaved gravel road meant for ambling along, to six lanes of high speed zooming traffic.

At the practicum, Amanda Fenton offered a journaling exercise with eight questions, one of which was, What questions would you most like to be asked about your experience by those you return to?

Here’s the questions I wrote to help guide my own transition.

  1. How were you changed by being there?
  2. What grew in your heart?
  3. How is that connected to who you are and who you are becoming?

These questions are different and have some nuance. They imply a level of change not just for the mind, but for the heart also. They point to a level of identity and self referencing. These questions aren’t about the itinerary. They aren’t about a summary report. They aren’t meant to be answered with a 30 second timer. These questions are about noticing something deeper.

I know that I won’t necessarily get asked these questions. People will be curious of course. I’ll share pictures. I tell of places. I’ll think of exercises that I’ll use again. And, with some, I might just steer the questions — When asked, “How was your trip?” I might just answer with, “Great. And, if you are asking how I was changed by being there…” And then a followup, to create more exchange, “How have your been changed in your life the last few weeks?”

Three questions. To guide and welcome some of the real stuff with each other. Perfect answers not required. Complete answers not required. Just thoughtful noticing and witnessing.