Nothing speaks of endless possibility quite like the crisp first page of a new notebook. At least, that’s how I’ve always justified my burgeoning stationery collection, which is never more resplendent than in fall.
As a child, I loved the long, lazy days of the summer vacation, but for me, the true excitement was the final week, when I’d turn my thoughts eagerly to the school year ahead. Cue long, romantic walks ‘round the stationery shop as I decked out my pencil case with the entirety of aisle five, arguing with my mom about exactly how many scented gel pens were a minimum requirement for a fourth grader. Armed with an overflowing backpack, a packed lunch, and shoes so shiny you could straighten your tie in them, I’d march into a new school year, with all the enthusiasm that a fresh, blank page brings.
My school days may be several years behind me now, but fall has always retained a special place in my heart as a period quietly offering to make all of my dreams come true. The official new year of the Western world may be January 1, but I’ve always found this hopelessly misguided. We pledge to hit the gym five times a week and give up carbs just when the weather is at its most frightful. Never have I been less likely to spring out of bed and utter the words, “I just fancy a pre-work run!” than on a bleak January morning when my alarm sounds several hours before the sun rises, and every blanket in the house struggles to keep out the wintry chill. Brightly wrapped chocolate leftover from the holidays mocks me as I miserably try to get my diet off the ground—I’ll last a week if I’m lucky.
My track record for sticking to New Year’s resolutions is nothing short of an embarrassment.
Fall, on the other hand, seems to be gently inviting me to make a change. As trees shed their old leaves and a fresh breeze starts to break up the long, muggy days, new possibilities start to emerge. Coming back from indulgent summer vacations is the perfect time to kickstart a healthier eating regime, while the cooler days are a welcome change from stifling heat—ideal for outdoor activities like cycling or running.
Britain, where I live, is hardly renowned for its summers, but it does fall spectacularly well: a tramp through the freshly fallen leaves on a golden afternoon in Hyde Park is no hardship to anyone hoping to exercise more in the new academic year. Plus, what better time to take up a new skill than the back-to-school season, when children and students across the country are heading eagerly to their studies?
With nature looking inviting at this time of year, I’m pledging to spend as much time outdoors as possible this fall. Having snoozed my alarm all summer, I’ll be getting up bright and early to walk to the office and clear my head for the workday. I’ve also resolved to cut back on my spending after a few months of treating myself, so as well as saving on my commute, I’ll be sourcing seasonal ingredients for home-cooked food. Hopefully I’ll impress my friends and family with my culinary skills, rather than my collection of takeout menus. The magic of this time of year is that making resolutions doesn’t feel like a hardship, and I’m excited for the positive changes I’m going to make.
So, instead of waiting until January 1 to start New Year’s resolutions, I’ll be setting out how I’d like to change my life for the better this fall. Who knows what the next year will bring?
Originally published on September 21, 2018.