Bring the Zen of Summer into the Fast-Paced Fall

Allison Graham

I hope you had the best summer and were able to soak in every ounce of sunshine and relaxation you could enjoy. For me, I didn’t go to my office once in August and spent my days at the lake enjoying the rewards of a year-long renovation. As I plug back into technology and a regular routine this morning, I am sharing some of my ideas that I penned on the deck before I returned to the city. My goal was to figure out how to maintain the refreshed feeling from a summer slowdown as I move into the faster-paced fall.

(While I write this, I am very aware that there are tragedies happening that are true Big R Resilience moments; this is about everyday resilience to lower stress and live a happier, more joyful, in-flow life when you’re not currently facing tragedy. I feel it’s important to acknowledge that difference so that the lens from which I write does not seem insensitive to those facing life-and-death challenges today. While I’ve had many Big R Resilience times in life, I am blessed that right now is not one of them. That is the flow of life. Big R – little r.) 

Earlier this summer, someone told me that when she gets to her cottage it’s like a huge exhale. Everything shifts. At the time, I posed the question, “How do you achieve that exhale in the day-to-day when you’re not at the cottage?” She didn’t think it was possible.

Now that I understand and have experienced the true exhale that comes from time at the lake, which is similar to taking any vacation, my question is the same, with a twist. How can one take the tranquility and freedom of the summer/vacation time into the higher pace of the fall? Here are some ideas I’m taking into my fall and I thought I’d share them with you too.

Get around water. The water just does something to your brain and body that is so calming. Click to read this article that highlights scientific findings that explain how being in or near water can have a positive impact in your life. While it’s harder to replicate this in the concrete jungle, it’s not impossible. Choosing to walk by the river or going to float in the salt baths are two things I’d like to integrate into my city life when I am feeling disconnected from the peacefulness of the lake. Even making time for a hot bath can be beneficial.  

Clear the clutter. There is not much in the cottage. It’s fresh off of a renovation with one more day of loose ends being done by the builder next week. That means, we have the bare minimum until everything is completely done. This has given me insight into how comfortably one can live without the bells and whistles. I’ve read about the movement towards minimization and now that I’ve lived it, I believe there is something very liberating about a clutter-free space. Yes, I have a computer and patio furniture, but not much else. It’s very freeing to be free from stuff. 

Taking this into the city, I’m going to seriously examine what I need to keep. If it stays, it’s because it’s needed and truly wanted – or as Marie Kondo author of The Magic Art of Tidying Up and the famed Netflix special Tidying Up with Marie Kondo says, “To keep it, it must spark joy.”

Me at the lake writing.

Protect the schedule. One of the most enticing aspects of summer is there is a lot less on the calendar. For me, that extra space allows me to tap into my creative writing flow. (The above photo of me and my dog on the lake deck is a pretty typical scene.) Right now, my brain can’t even imagine how I fill my time with when I am “busy” at the office. I suspect most of it is unnecessary. Beyond writing, delivering a few workshops, and responding to inquiries for speaking and coaching clients, I didn’t do much work. That means there’s a clean slate when I get back to the office. I can choose what’s really important to put on my list to focus on business momentum, rather than getting caught up in the whirlwind of doing…which brings me to my next point.

Be, not do. The art of nothingness. A couple of friends came to visit, and one is reading the Tao of Pooh. She explained the essence is doing absolutely nothing and being okay with that. I believe this summer has taught me how to master nothingness. It’s so liberating to just be, not do. It’s not even an effort to meditate – because really, intending to meditate is actually doing something. In our society that glorifies being busy, when our bodies have a chance to exhale and rest, truly rest, it responds with an overwhelming sense of peace. 

Staying connected to that feeling of serenity by embracing moments of nothingness will be a game-changer and something I strive to achieve. Looking away from the electronics is a good start. Imagine taking just 10 minutes away from social media scrolling each day. Use that to notice the nature or people around you. Even just staring at the stars, which became my favorite nightly pastime, has such an impact on feeling connected and peaceful. It also reminds me how much of a blip each of us is in the grand scheme of the universe – so let’s enjoy what we do have while we have it.  


Maybe it’s the waves lapping against the rocks or seeing how relaxed my dog is basking in the sunshine, that has given me the courage to write about such a touchy-feely topic as the Zen of summer. Whatever it is, this feeling of serenity is amazing. It only takes a couple breaths of embracing nothingness to remind you that this moment and our life’s work is too precious to waste time being unhappy, getting caught up in other people’s drama or being too busy to take a moment to truly appreciate the times in life when you aren't facing a Big R Resilience times.

What about you? Did you get a true break this summer? Do you notice the difference in your flow? How will you take that into the faster pace of fall?

#personaldevelopment #success #leadership #summer #vacation #cottagelife

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