The temperatures are dropping. The energy levels are on the rise. The leaves are beginning to say goodbye to their treetop homes and gracefully make their way all the way down to the ground. This can only mean one thing—it’s fall y’all.
As a native Floridian, nothing excites me quite like the arrival of my favorite season. I have plaid shirts, tights, jackets, and a scarf for every single chilly day to prove it.
This time last year, I wrote a story surrounding “How to Have the Best Fall Ever,” praising the season, with a focus on how to take advantage of fall happenings in Pensacola. Although my geographic surroundings have changed since then, the spirit of the season remains very much the same.
No matter where you find yourself this fall, there are endless opportunities to make the most of it. Here are 10 ways to have the best fall ever, or at least make it count.
1. Step Up Your Active Game
The fall breeze adds a whole new level of enthusiasm to whatever outdoor activity you happen to love. For me, this is especially true of running. While a sudden drop in temperatures from the 80s or 90s to the 60s or 70s might not seem like a big deal to you, I know my fellow Floridians feel me. Sunday morning I awoke to a 58 degree chill in the air and bounced out the door to meet up with a friend and go for an eight mile run. Needless to say, the entire day was spent outside. Come early evening, Andrew and I pumped up our bike tires and cruised around downtown St. Augustine, with a detour by the pumpkin church, a local landmark this time of year. Please appreciate the amount of pumpkins in this photo, and the fact that it was cool enough to sport leggings.
2. Eat Seasonal Vegetables
Although you can do your best to eat seasonally all the time, there’s something especially inviting about fall harvest. Perhaps it’s the abundance of nutritious and delicious vegetables that are at their peak during fall, like beets, carrots, broccoli and winter squash. Maybe it’s cooking up warm, hearty food to share in the form of potlucks with friends. Either way, it’s something special. If you planted a fall garden and already have vegetables growing up in your backyard, hooray! If not, I encourage you to seek out produce options close to home to ensure you are getting your hands on fresh, local delicacies. Contrary to popular belief, purchasing veggies in such a state doesn’t have to break the bank. I’ve been visiting a neighborhood produce stand each week and walking away with tons of veggies in hand for just a few bucks.
3. Get Pumpkin-Crazed
Believe me when I say, you can do a lot more with pumpkins than purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte. And you don’t even need Pinterest to tell you how to work your pumpkin magic. Scoop out their insides. Paint their faces. Bedazzle them with jewels. Bake their seeds. Turn them into soup. Eat them up. Carve them into masterpieces. You really can’t go wrong with these orange, glowing squashlings. Personally, pumpkins make me both nostalgic and sentimental. I’ve been carving them with my dad since I was a small child. While this remains a father-daughter ritual, I’ve also made pumpkin carving wine nights with my girlfriends a tried and true tradition. As the month continues on, you can expect to see more pumpkin-inspired posts from this vegan, featuring pumpkin-filled recipes (including smoothies).
4. Explore Uncharted Territory
If you ask me, fall begs you to explore uncharted territory and experience vibrant fall foliage while you’re at it. I’m not sure when or how, but I’m determined to make it happen this season, even if it means driving all day just to spend the night, wake up, run, jump in some red, orange and yellow leaves, hike a mountain, and then drive back home. I know. I know. Ambitious much?
Of course, exploring new territory doesn’t have to involve a trip to the mountains. Having just moved to a new city, there are plenty of opportunities for explorations close to home. Plus, there are always day trips to be taken. Wednesday Andrew and I hopped in the car and drove down to South Florida to deliver a painting. While technically work-related, this was most definitely an adventure day considering we were able to see our dear friend, try out a veg eatery, explore the Dali museum for free (thanks to our dear friend), scope some street art, and eat way too much at Whole Foods on the drive home. Stay tuned for a full-length day trip post. Until then, here’s me blending in with some street art by Bask.
5. Go Outside (And Stay There)
On fall days where there is a chill in the air and sun in the sky, I urge you to go outside and stay there as long as possible. It will be good for your mental and physical health and may even evoke some creative energies. I understand sometimes barriers hinder us from dropping everything we’re doing and going outside, but where there is a will, there’s usually a way. If you have the option to use a laptop while at work, take it outside to a park. If you can get away for a lunch break, walk to your destination, and opt to sit outside. After work, eat dinner in your backyard. I love this time of year because I can start eating my meals outside again, picnic style, without getting attacked by mosquitoes or drenched in sweat. Also, working from home allows me to take my office outside to the park, or in this case, to Andrew’s backyard so I can write outside on the deck, while he paints in the studio.
6. Spice Things Up
No, this is not a Spice Girls reference, although “colors of the world, spice up your life,” is certainly not a bad mantra to live by. Spicing up your life this fall could be as literal as spicing up your seasonal produce with health-boosting spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic and fresh peppers. When I think of spicing things up, I think of mulled wine, a beverage that will forever remind me of fall after spending a fall season in Paris where mulled wine was available in excess on every corner. Of course, spicing things up can be taken figuratively and translate to rekindling a relationship with something you love, or even trying something new. Maybe it’s knitting yourself a scarf. Maybe it’s getting back into running. Maybe it’s skydiving for the first time (still debating this one). For some literal spice, check out my Golden Rabbit Smoothie I blended up a couple of weeks ago, using a giant, fresh-grown carrot, a mystery pepper, and turmeric.
7. Slow Down, Chill Out
For me, summer is the season I find most stressful. It’s almost as if the heat causes some innate tension within myself. Now that the cooler air is gradually blowing in, I’m finding it much easier to slow down and chill out. Still, it doesn’t always happen naturally. Just last week I caught myself going into a hyper-productive mode that had me feeling even more nutty than usual. And so, I abruptly signed off the computer for two days straight to reset my brain, and ask myself what is actually so urgent. Consider using the changing of seasons as an opportunity to slow down everything you’re doing (except your physical activity), and take a breather. “But I don’t have time to slow down,” you might say. I am of the opinion that we all choose what we spend our time on. And there’s nothing more valuable than choosing to take time to reset your state of being so you can be better for yourself and for those around you. Whenever I lose sight of this (like last week) I reread a piece I wrote surrounding conscious relationships, titled “10 Steps to Help You Balance Tasks and Relationships.”
8. Appreciate The Power Of Friendship
Being in a new city this season paints the power of friendship in a different light. While it’s certainly filling me with an eagerness to spend quality time with the friends I am making in my new home, it’s also making me that much more thankful for those I share a history with. It’s not easy being away from the ones who know you best, and love you unconditionally. Friends who know your struggles and your shortcomings, but love you and accept you just the same. Friends whose hugs feel a lot like the sweater you’ve worn to pieces—the sweater that never loses its threads and always keeps you warm. To both my new friends in my new home I look forward to growing closer to, and my lifelong friends spread far and wide, thank you for being you, and for allowing me to be a part of your life.
9. Reflect On Reality
In looking back at fall seasons throughout the years, it might seem a little ironic as to why I consider fall my favorite. Maybe because along with all the lightheartedness and sentimental feelings have come seasons of pain, and hardship. My mom suggests that maybe we are given more to deal with in the fall, because we have the cool air and the warmth of the season to liven our spirits when they are down. I tend to agree with her.
The more I reflect on reality, the more I realize, perhaps the reason fall is my favorite, is because it’s the season that always slaps me back to reality. Fall reminds me that life as we know it is fragile, time is fleeting and tragedy will continue to strike. It reminds me what is worth holding on to, and what is worth forgetting. It reminds me that my trivial complaints are just that, trivial.
Ultimately, it reminds me that no matter how difficult life becomes, the best thing I (or anyone) can do is carry on with faith and fortitude, rather than fear. Perhaps it goes back to remembering everyone around you is facing their own harsh reality. Personally, I like to think the lightheartedness of fall feelings helps to balance out that harshness. Perhaps that’s truly where my emphasis on fall feelings comes from.
10. Embrace Fall Feelings
Speaking of fall feelings…
If you are in the mood for more fall feelings, here is piece I wrote for Thought Catalog last fall on this very subject: “7 Glorious Feelings You’ll Get to Experience Now that Fall is Coming.”