A Second Wind 

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Downshifting to Fall 

By Mary Petersen 

Signal Staff Writer 

Our grandson started kindergarten last week. There was plenty of fanfare preparing him for this momentous occasion. New backpack, lunchbox, haircut, milestone photos. Despite the anticipation and apprehension (mostly on his mother’s part), transitioning to his first day of kindergarten went smoothly.  

Not only is our little man facing a transition. We all are. It’s the end of summer. Despite the heat, vacation is over. It has been an eventful few months for us. Hectic and busy but also fun and exhilarating. We went whale watching in Baja, spent three weeks in Italy, and stayed a few days in Rosarito Beach. We hosted two international students in a cultural exchange program and celebrated seven family birthdays!  In between, I did lots of babysitting as my daughter was teaching a summer school class. It was hard to catch my breath some days.  

I shouldn’t complain about being too busy. It’s a good thing to have such a full life, overflowing with more activities than I can handle. Yet with such an intense schedule, sometimes I’m so busy I lose my balance (well, figuratively). 

I thought, mistakenly, that as a retired person, I would have ample discretionary time each day to enjoy the things I like to do, but my jam-packed summer schedule left me with little wiggle room. The quilt I started has been languishing on the dining room table for months. My garden needs trimming and fertilizing, and it took me a month to finish the book I was reading.  It’s even been difficult to squeeze in in time to write.  

I think it’s the season. In summertime we fill our days with the activities we can’t do in other seasons. Especially with grandkids, we plan beach days and pool days, vacations and barbeques. We take them on excursions to recreational spots and activity centers. The sun sets later so we play until dark. We pack in as much fun as we can to take advantage of longer days and warm weather. 

As joyful as it has been, I am looking forward to transitioning into fall and downshifting out of my frenetic schedule. Despite having to deal with fall’s ubiquitous pumpkin spice everything, it will be a welcome change from the wild ride that summer has been. 

Professionals warn that the autumnal time change can disrupt our circadian rhythms, and it’s true that the earlier setting of the sun requires an adjustment. But I anticipate the pleasure of an early dusk, of slowing down and nestling in at home. Solitude helps me organize my days and thoughtfully consider my priorities.  I may even finish the projects I have been putting off since spring.  

At every stage in life, we face transitions, some joyous and some challenging. Sometimes the transition is a journey into uncharted territory. Sometimes it’s a recurrent, cyclical passage. Whether we are starting kindergarten, adjusting to retired life, or adapting to seasonal cycles, ideally, we disengage from previous routines, embrace what’s in front of us with openness, and make friends with change. 

Mary Sortino Petersen is a retired COC English instructor, a 30-year SCV resident and two-time breast cancer survivor. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]

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