The Fall Refresh: A Checklist

Summer is a wonderful season of throwing things together. Wearing the same bathing suit uniform for days on end, making a quick meal with whatever doesn’t require an oven, and being outside as much as possible. I love the chaos of it — the fast-paced, worn-out feeling I get from long days in the sun. Once fall arrives though, it is an exhale I didn’t know I needed.

New Years’ resolutions have always felt obligatory to me — unoriginal as I run on a treadmill next to dozens of fellow hopefuls with a goal. And by the time April comes around, I’m usually too busy to even consider a spring cleaning. But somehow everything feels more golden and exciting come September. I find myself getting lost in dreamy pictures of new travel destinations, or looking at my everyday hair with a new, chop-ready eye.

A photo taken in Central Park on an impossibly beautiful fall day. More on my 7 hours in New York coming soon!

Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved the “Back to School” season growing up, but after Labor Day every year, I itch to make changes and feel anew. In this season, the need for a reset feels more thoughtful. It’s rooted in an effort to slow down and notice how I live day-to-day.

An autumn refresh isn’t just about buying up all of the cozy sweaters and carving pumpkins. There’s an infatuation with fall dwindles it down to only a few well-photographed activities without touching on the commonality of them all — reconnecting. Bonfires are fun, but they’re also about staying up late in conversations that can’t be heard over the wind from a summer boat ride. It’s not just an item on a “Fall Bucket List.”

And so, I’ve spent time thinking about how to mindfully refresh my everyday this season. That’s not to say I’m skipping out on apple-picking with friends. But instead, challenging myself to sit in the quiet moments in between cliché fall activities I guiltily love. Here’s a few of my go-to’s:

1. Cook something new. It’s comfort food season, y’all. Crack open a cookbook or browse foodie blogs for a few fun dinners to try. Even if it’s only a few new dishes a month, mixing in fresh foods can keep even the most mundane days interesting. Plus, it’s a chance to learn something new in the kitchen before the next fall dinner party.

2. Clean out your closet. It’s not a seasonal refresh without purging the darkest corners of your closet. Donate, sell, or share with friends to keep the circle of life going for your favorite old pieces. And then, the fun part — shop for the items on the top of your fall want list!

3. Get moving outside. As the leaves change, I try to take a little walk every day. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes or tacking an extra few blocks on the route from coffee to the office. Looking around without a place to go is the easiest way to slow down and bring yourself back to the present.

4. Add to your space. I’m all for devoting a weekend to painting your place. But even if I don’t have time for an extreme home makeover, small little favorites still make my apartment feel at peace. A new scent, wall art (which could be self-created!) or a bright new set of sheets can be enough to refresh.

5. Seek inspiration. This is my favorite season for reading as many September issues as I can carry, folding favorite pages along the way. Fall is rife with new music, books, media, and art. Consume it all.

6. Make a change in your daily routine. Last fall, my friends and I took a cooking class. I dig deep in my (newly cleaned out!) closet to wear pieces in fresher ways. I sacrifice my tried-and-true takeout spot to stop by a new place that opened up down the street. Or, just take the long way home.

7. Reconnect with old friends. It’s the season of weekends booking up faster than you can say “Boo.” Send them a quick note now, before it’s too late! Having a happy hour to catch up after the summer could bring new adventures into your calendar come fall.

8. Keep a journal. Check in with yourself in this new season. Even if you aren’t a regular with it, try a couple prompts. When I’m feeling stuck and need to get in touch with my own head, I start with, “I think, I feel, I want…” and pages fill themselves from there.

9. Plan something to look forward to. Book a trip to Paris in October or buy tickets to a local theater production. Or, plan a picnic with a baguette and a bottle of wine, sans Eiffel Tower. It’s essentially the same thing, right?

10. Enjoy the quiet. Sit for a second. No — an hour. Maybe an entire Sunday. Ease into a chilly morning instead of running out the door. Fill your space with candles and stay in by yourself for the night. This season is yours!

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