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Making a Fresh Start as the Leaves Fall

How to make a fresh start in autumn.

Autumn leaves

Autumn is a complicated season. It’s rich with natural beauty—especially here in New England, it’s breathtaking to see the reds, oranges and yellows pop up along highways, in backyards, and across mountain ranges. The air is crisp. The sun is brilliant. Many people sneak away for September beach outings—not necessarily to swim, but just to be by the ocean in that cool, luscious light.

But autumn is also a transition time, a bridge to the quiet of winter. It is a time of endings, as each leaf releases from its branch at its chosen moment, floating to the ground to return to the earth. 

This week, I’m celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Every year I marvel at the symbolism of the holiday, the opportunity it offers to atone for past wrongdoings and to reorient my life in the direction I believe it should go. And every year, I reflect on the fact that we celebrate it in the fall.

For me, there’s deep meaning in the juxtaposition of making a fresh start just as the vibrancy of the year is winding down. It feels profound, almost courageous, to face the winter we know is coming with fresh purpose and energy.

Rosh Hashanah also feels to me like a cosmic reminder that now is the time to shore up that energy, to set a positive intention for the days, weeks and months ahead. The more deeply we ground ourselves in what matters during the autumn, the more we have to draw on when winter winds blow.

That’s a lesson that can inspire us each and every day of the year, isn’t it? Today is the day to invest in tomorrow’s happiness, tomorrow’s kindness, tomorrow’s health, tomorrow’s relationships. Whether it’s cold and blustery outside, or warm and bright, we have the power to make the most of each day, to start fresh, to reorient ourselves in the directions we believe we should go.

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