October Can Be a Perfect Time to Change It Up!

By Gwenn Voelckers

Fall is my favorite time of year. For me, it means all good things: relaxing in front of a cozy fire, making soup on Sunday afternoons, donning my well-worn leather jacket for long walks and turning my attention to all those inside projects I neglected over the summer.

The colors, aromas and industriousness that come with the fall season really appeal to me. But this hasn’t always been the case.

After my divorce, this time of year and all its romantic charm would leave me feeling melancholy. Nostalgia and wistfulness would creep in, and I just wanted to retreat into myself.

For those who live alone, the month of October has some unique challenges.

Not one to wallow in a “woe is me” state of mind, I began to develop and employ some strategies to rekindle my love of the fall season. It can be the perfect time to mix it up, get busy and take some risks.

Below are elements of my annual fall “game plan.” Take a look and see if one or more of these suggestions might not add a little color to your life pallet this fall:

Tackle indoor projects. Fall is a great time to accomplish all those indoor projects that fell by the wayside in the warmer months. I have a long list and keep it right in front of me — a reminder that I have plenty to do.

Idle time is not a friend at any time of year, but it can become downright unfriendly when the days grow shorter. Now is the time to keep busy: organize your storage space, do some touch-up painting, update your wardrobe, or redecorate a tired bedroom or bath. There’s nothing like feeling productive to beat the October blahs.    

Get up and get going. Staying active when there’s a chill in the air can be difficult. I can remember many a dreary morning when all I wanted to do was hit the snooze button, pull up the covers and stay in bed. As nice as sleeping in can be from time to time, I don’t recommend a steady diet of it.

In my experience, there’s no better way to start your day than to wake early. In the peace and quiet, there is glorious time to read, think and breathe. I use this important time to myself to plan my day, write and answer emails. As the day brightens, so does my mood and gratitude for the precious day before me.

Enjoy the great outdoors. Sunshine, fresh air and even a light rain can be invigorating, especially if you’ve been cooped up all day. I’m grateful every day for Scout, my adorable springer spaniel, who needs to be walked twice a day. Do I feel like walking her all the time? No. Do I feel better after taking her out? Yes, without fail.

Whether you have a dog to walk or not, make an effort to leave your house and get outdoors. It will help relieve feelings of isolation during this cooler month.

Learn something new. Going back to school and fall go hand in hand. Who among us isn’t reminded of the excitement (OK, perhaps nervous excitement) associated with returning to school after the summer break.

Each fall I like to identify some new skill or subject to master. Last year, it was flower arranging; this year I’m looking at various lecture series. Continuing education opportunities are abundant in the community.

Check out offerings by colleges and universities, libraries, community centers, and arts and cultural institutions. You’ll also find workshop listings online and in local newspapers. Start your search today!

Invite people in. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few simple and manageable ways to bring people into my world and into my home. One way is to organize a gathering around a TV show or streaming movie.

Years ago, I invited my single friends over to watch West Wing with me on Wednesday nights. I provided the soup and salad; they provided the good company, refreshments and an uplifting mid-week change of pace.

Football games, your favorite weekly sitcomor drama, a recent release on Netflix — any of these can become reasons to gather together with friends. The benefits? You’ll hone your cooking skills (boy, do I now have some great soup recipes!) and you’ll connect with people. What better way to enjoy a nice fall evening?

There are so many wonderful and meaningful ways to enjoy this season and to ward off the blues that can sometimes emerge during October. If you are feeling sluggish, lonely, or isolated, try a few of the strategies above.

They have stood me in good stead and have reinvigorated my appreciation for change and the possibilities and personal growth that can come with it. With a little “elbow grease,” as my father would say, these strategies can work for you, too.

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon. To purchase her new book “Alone and Content” visit Amazon.com. For information about her upcoming workshops or to invite her to speak, visit aloneandcontent.com, call 585-624-7887, or email gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com.