Back to School Season and the Return of Routine
I work with a lot of moms (and quite a few teachers), in my coaching adventures. As a result, even though I only have four-legged children at the moment, this time of year is fraught with, "back to school," the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready for the change of seasons.
Even if you aren't getting little ones ready for the bus (or writing lessons in your not-really-spare time), I'm sure you can feel the shift in the air, yes? September is a mini-new year, in many ways; fall is one of my favorite times to take stock of where we've been, where we're going, and what we need to let go in order to get there. It's a time of evaluation, of harvest, of moving to prepare for cooler weather and more time inside learning new things (at any age, in any context). You might be looking forward to fresh-picked apples, for example, or you might be finding it easier to make time to get movement that makes you feel like yourself again, now that your kids are on a more reliable schedule.
(Or maybe you're not, because as soon as one routine gets set, it seems like things get shifted yet again, and we're standing there re-learning how to fit ourselves into our own lives. It happens.)
Either way, we're standing on the edge of a season asking us to come home, get grounded, and build a foundation that will sustain us into our next season.
It can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, though, can't it? The most common sentiment I hear from folks getting back into a regular indoor movement routine at this time of year is, "oof, it's been a while since I've moved in that way," or, "I'm not sure I can do this anymore."
I'm right there with you, except, this time, to borrow a phrase, I'm leaning a bit more into it, seeing not what I'm not anymore, but where I am, right now. Things look different when we realize we don't owe our fitness, our performance, or even our health to anyone else: it's much easier to take a step back and see where we want to go, what feels right for our bodies and our lives, and stop trying to measure ourselves using someone else's yardstick.
(Easier said than done, to be sure, and! This is part of what I help people do in our coaching sessions. Learn more and apply here.)
I wrote about it a bit on Instagram, and, since I chatted about it in my DMs with a few folks feeling the same, I wanted to share here too:
I've spent the last few weeks playing around with a barbell (we were on a break!! 👈🏻 the only Friends reference I will ever make, because I've watched exactly one episode of that show.) (I also do see this is a dumbbell, TIA).
Past me would say it's been humbling (and make some self-deprecating comments).
The current iteration says it's been informative (and also funny, because if you don't crack a smile at least once a workout for one reason or another, what's the point?).
The things that are funny this time around aren't as many self-owns as tiny moments of, "ooo, that's different now," or, "I remember when I thought I could hide this snag from myself or muscle through it—HA." They're funny in the way witnessing childlike naivete brings joy and hope: if only it were all as simple as I used to think it was, you know? Good ideas, missing nuance.
With more context and experience now, I've learned it's actually quite simple, though differently, in ways fitness doesn't traditionally teach us: lower weights are not failure; my body has changed, so my form might shift along with it; imbalances and pain have something to say, so listen. Even if we have heard those things, as they're constantly shoved aside and relegated to the margins, they're easier to know than to remember and apply, sometimes.
Coming back from a hiatus of any length is always interesting, often viewed as a challenge or a hurdle or a slog after some moral failing that must be justified (it's back-to-school season in the US; I tend to hear this sort of dialogue a lot right about now). If no one has told you, you can let yourself show up whenever the moment is right, no explanations necessary, and welcome the seasonal shifts, the sweet surrender, the new information.
If you're relishing the return of routines brought on by fall, I hope you're also enjoying making your own; if you're finding this season hectic, exhausting, and uncertain, you're not alone. No matter what, there is space for you, you're not doing it, "wrong," and there's so much to learn.