Homecoming

I drove through town today, a drive that I have probably done thousands of times in the last 27 years, in all kinds of weather.

Today’s ride was beautiful, with trees putting on a spectacular and colorful show. New England knows how to dress for fall, no doubt.

I drove slowly, leisurely, taking in the colors against the grey autumn sky. As I looked at various buildings and corners of our small town, I found myself going down memory lane.

A lot has changed in the last 27 years.

Places that I used to love and frequent, alone and with the girls when they were growing up, are not here anymore.

Our favorite local bookstore closed years ago. The gift shop, complete with an ice cream bar where the girls and I would go for Christmas ornaments, small presents, and gelatos, is replaced by a small restaurant. The quirky sandwich place with a story of its own has changed many hands and identities.

The big field that hosted the Saturday flea market is now home to a group of stores. The small health food store with the old wood floors and tables in the back garden where we would take the girls for lunch is now a furniture store. The old bagel shop where the locals would gather to catch up has been relocated and operated under new ownership. The fish truck parked where the old video rental shop used to be is not there anymore and, neither is the video store.

New stores and hangouts have replaced the ones that are not here any longer. I enjoy them, but they don’t carry the same memories for me. I don’t feel that warm feeling that envelops me when I think of the older ones. Maybe it has to do with the girls being all grown up and not here anymore. These were our places. There are stories, many of them funny, associated with them, the kind of stories we tell and embellish around the Thanksgiving table.

These days, Neal and I joke about feeling like newlyweds who just moved into the area. We have begun to explore our new beginning.

I am not surprised that such memories and deep emotions are bubbling up.

Everywhere I look, there are signs of change. Fall is the season of letting go and withdrawal, just as spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. One cannot exist without the other, release and renewal, endings and new beginnings.

Mornings are colder and misty. The trees are shedding their leaves, withdrawing their life energy to their roots so they can survive winter and be renewed come spring. The summer blooms are long gone. The garden will be going to sleep soon. The squirrels are dashing around madly, gathering provisions for the winter, stocking their underground cellars, and soaking up the autumn sun. The geese are flying overhead, urging each other forward.

Nature is moving within for a much-needed pause before the next round or rejuvenation and renewal.

What are the signs of change you are beginning to notice?

What new directions and ideas are calling to you?

The landscape of our lives is ever-changing. We grow and evolve at pace with the seasons. Fuelled by destiny, imagination, and perseverance, we learn to accept change and navigate the ups and downs with grace.

As we witness the beauty of this season, we sense the call to go within, listen deeply, and be present to the changes that are softly knocking at our door, the changes we have been hoping for, and the changes we did not see coming.

We cannot evolve without releasing that which has completed its life cycle. We cannot hold on to summer after it has come to fruition. Summer allows us to open up and celebrate the harvest of our efforts. Soon, we have to move on and begin the process of creating all over again.

To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we recently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where a new beginning might be ripening. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different.

– John O’Donohue

The importance of space and rituals.

As fall unfolds, I find myself once again drawn inwards. The distractions of summer, although enjoyable and much-needed, have slowed down.

These days, I crave more quiet time, alone. Taking the opportunity to pause, reflect, and listen to myself think infuses my creativity. The dark time of the year is a time of incubation when imagination takes flight. I don’t know what will unfold, but for now, it’s about dreaming and listening.

The fall rituals have replaced those of spring and summer. It reminds me of my early years in Greece. I am grateful to have grown up at a place and time where the change of seasons was honored and celebrated in everyday life.

The house I grew up in would go through its customary seasonal transformation during the change of seasons. At the onset of cooler weather, my mother would get busy. We would clean the house top to bottom. Wool rugs would come out, and heavy curtains would line the windows. Summer clothes were washed and put away until next year. Wool blankets took the place of the cotton bedcovers. The smell of heartier food cooking on the stove would fill the air.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the power of safe space and rituals.

When I sit to meditate, I light a candle, burn my favorite incense, and sit at my meditation corner with my shawl over me. Most times, the pup will come to curl on my lap too.

I have done this for years. Now, when I walk into the space, I feel the silence inviting me to sit. My favorite books are always on the table nearby. So are photos of my loved ones, a warm blanket, comfy pillows, my journal, and a hot cup of tea.

Rituals bring us back home, to ourselves. They ground us in the present moment and the seasons of our life. They are comforting and soothing. We all have rituals we turn to when we want to honor the season or a moment and connect with ourselves and our community.

It does not matter how much quiet time you can give to yourself. What matters is that you do. If you feel the need to slow down and give yourself the gift of stillness and reflection, make it happen. Don’t wait for an extended period to be available to you. Depending on what is going on with your life, this may not be possible. Create your safe space and go there to be with yourself when you can … be it 10 minutes or half an hour. Every chance you get to connect with yourself, take it.

Awareness … acceptance … patience. It takes everything we have to be able to live this way. It means that we finally take up what is ours to do and let go of what is beyond our abilities. Life corrects us if we do not learn this. As Montaigne put it, “Greatness of soul consists not so much in soaring high and in pressing forward, as in knowing how to adapt and limit oneself.”

Gunilla Norris from Becoming Bread
  • What do you feel drawn to these days? What speaks to you?

  • How can you navigate this new season with ease and clear intention?

  • What are some of the rituals that bring you home, to yourself?

I invite you to take 10-15 minutes and sit down with these questions. See what comes up for you and write down your insights in your journal. You can also scroll down and post a comment. I always love hearing from you.

If you would like to explore these questions further, come join me for next month’s gathering, on November 1st.

As a life coach and retreat leader, Yota works with women seeking clarity, inspiration, and purpose in the midst of life changes. Her approach is intuitive and deeply influenced by her cultural roots, work and life experience, and her long-term practice of mindfulness meditation.

6 Comments

  • Kathleen

    I’m reading your lovely words while sipping my morning tea and looking out at the Fall landscape. A moment to be cherished before a busy day. It’s so easy to get lost in the busyness, to feel captive to the never ending swirl of activities and emotions. I’m deeply grateful to get these reminders to stop for a moment. And especially to share some laughter and inspiration with this wonderful community of women–thanks, Yota!

    • Yota Schneider

      Good morning, Kathleen ❤️🍂
      I can almost see you in front of the window, enjoying your morning tea and taking in the landscape. I hope this pause infuses your day with calm and inspiration.
      Sharing space with all of you has been a gift. I am deeply grateful for you and all who join to share questions, insights, and words of encouragement and support.
      Thank you for being here.

  • Natasha de Castro

    I love the reminders you bring in every blog- to re-visit what seems defined in my mind. I began thinking about what rituals I might have like the ones you described in Greece. To see the changing of the bedclothes, the bringing out of the jackets with the box of mittens and hats as part of a ritual and not just as “something to do”.

    The task that did jump out as an enjoyable one for me that could be redefined from another “to do” into part of a ritual, is the “bringing in of the plants”. That one involves repotting some, cutting back some, and then trying to find their parking spaces for the winter- this in itself is tricky as there are more and more plants coming in, and the older ones are getting bigger and bigger!

    To look at it as a ritual brings a feeling of love and comfort that I had not let myself enjoy. I love my plants, and the worry of whether they will make it through the winter, if they will have enough sun here or there- those worries and the anxiety of having more things to do, not enough time etc,… that attitude towards this act overshadowed what you have helped me see as something special. My plants have always given me great joy, and to see them as part of my annual rituals is special and fun. In fall they come in, and in spring they go out. Simple as that, and the simple can so often be so special! 🙂

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Natasha,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response and for taking the time to reflect on the rituals that bring you home and make you feel comforted.

      You are right, often we view our tasks, seasonal and otherwise, as part of our “to-do” list. We do them automatically, often with a sense of annoyance. We forget to see how these “tasks” are the rituals that ease our transition from season to season and from moment to moment. They define our place in time and support our sense of homecoming and being. They comfort us and put us at ease with ourselves and the time and place we inhabit.

      Enjoy preparing your plants for the upcoming seasons. 🍂💕

      Big hugs ❤️

  • Linda Samuels

    So many beautiful images, memories, and wonderful questions to sit with. I love how you write, how you live and are in your environment, and the love and respect you have for nature, your family, and rituals.

    There is something so special about stillness. I’ve been walking more lately. It’s such an uplifting time of year to be outside, see the colors changing, and smell the crisp, fall air. As I walk, I hear and feel my feet hitting the ground with the sound of leaves crunching below me. I walk quickly most of the time. Not because I’m in a rush, but because I feel energized by the colors and feeling that surround me. When I get to the end of the block, I enter the woods and start down the path. Sometimes I tear up because it’s so beautiful. And still, I hear my the sound of my feet hitting the ground and crunching the leaves. And then I stop- not because I’m tired, but because I want to hear the sound of the woods. No more foot sounds. Instead the music is made of leaves rustling, birds chirping, water rushing down below in the Croton River. It’s so peaceful just me in the woods. I take some deep breaths to breathe in the clear air and earthy scents. And then I turnaround and head home, smiling and humming all the way…stopping every so often to snap a photo of a leaf newly turned red or orange.

    So much joy in this season of change.

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Linda,

      Thank you for taking us with you on your daily walk towards the river. I can hear the leaves crunching under your feet, the sound of the river rushing in the distance, the birds doing their daily thing. I consider myself fortunate to be able to live in a place of such beauty. I know you do too.
      I took a short drive yesterday to visit a friend nearby. It was a glorious day and, as I was driving, tears came to my eyes; such a beautiful, glorious day, and here I am. Then I read your comment and smiled. You feel that way too.

      Thank you for your kind words and loving support. What I write resonates with you because that is how you are and feel too.

      Enjoy the weekend. Hope you get to enjoy your time outside. 💜

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