Fall Forever

I know, I know, it is still summer for 10 more days. Yet in my heart, autumn has arrived. I love fall for so many reasons… the changing foliage, my birthday, sweaters, boots, pumpkins, richer moisturizers.

I also love fall because with it comes the feeling of a New Year – like the start of a New School Year, with all of the possibilities and opportunities (and new office supplies) that come with that feeling.

Here are my fall rituals.

1.Spring cleaning. I am purging old papers (and you know my love of paper), making room for new, embracing the feeling of lightness.

2. Goal setting. The arrival of fall is a reminder that there are only 110 days left in the calendar year. That’s 110 opportunities to check things off my list and accomplish what I set out to do January 1st.

3.(Mental) Space clearing. During fall, trees let go of their leaves, releasing the old, to make room for new buds. Following their example, I work to let go of something I no longer need, be it a feeling, an obligation, a regret.

4. Seed planting (not literally). Fall is a time of incubation… seeds of ideas planted now will bloom next spring. I make myself take time for creative thinking and brainstorming.

How do you celebrate the arrival of fall?

Holiday traditions

To me, today is the official first day of the holiday season. Does it always start on the 5th of November? No. I realized yesterday, however, that the holiday season always starts with “Face Fair.” For the 5th consecutive year, I have visited one of my first, and one of my very favorite clients, Alex Alexa, sometime during November, for their annual holiday open house, two hours of anti-aging and skin care extravaganza at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Hurricane, WV (pronounced hurr-i-ken, I learned year 2 of Face Fair). I was reminded last night of the power of traditions.

I have written before about my love of rituals and traditions: they ground me. Rituals are familiar, comfortable, claming. Traditions help me make sense of the general chaos that is my life. I have chosen the life of a nomad: I spend more time on the road than in my own home, and I love it. The one drawback of such a lifestyle is that it makes weekly traditions difficult. No weekly Sunday night family dinners for me (except when I am home in Geneva). No weekly poker games. No weekly girls’ night out. My traditions tend to be annual rather than weekly. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to enjoy Face Fair not only because I was supporting one of my first clients, but also because this tradition has become a true pleasure, something I now look forward to every year, and the official beginning of my holiday season.

With Face Fair comes seeing Dr. Blair, his wife Dr. Kurucz, and one or more of their three beautiful children. They run Alex Alexa, a family business, just like Alchimie Forever. With Face Fair comes seeing some of their wonderful clients, some whom I now recognize and remember the name of. Last night, I loved seeing Claire M., and I missed seeing Barbara C. With Face Fair comes catching up with my girlfriend Kelly, whom I sometimes wish I were, and whom I love more the more I get to know her. With Face Fair comes the first holiday dinner of the season, a 10 to 12 person dinner in the back room of BlackHawk Grille in Barboursville, a restaurant opened by a friend of Dr. Blair’s, and I believe the one non-chain restaurant for a number of miles. And with Face Fair, comes spending time with Donna, Dr. Blair’s fabulous, loyal, and gorgeous aesthetician. At some point during the last 5 years I stopped staying at the Hurricane Hampton Inn and started staying with Donna in her beautiful home in Salt Rock. (Early on, I would get BlackHawk and Salt Rock confused and think she lived in Black Salt). At some point during the last 5 years of coming down for Face Fair, I stopped thinking of Donna as a “client” and started thinking of her as a BFF. We stopped just talking shop, and starting talking about husbands, boyfriends, dreams, kids, illnesses, stress, all the things best girlfriends speak about over coffee or wine, depending on the time of day.

This morning, at Donna’s kitchen table, having coffee with her and her delightful husband Glenn, I painted my nails red – the true sign I am in holiday spirit. I am so grateful to Dr. Blair and his team for their trust, their long-time support, their friendship, and for this wonderful annual tradition that is Face Fair and all is has come to mean in my life.

 

I am a pen and paper kind of girl

I am a pen and paper kind of girl. I have always known that about myself, but this week was reminded of that fact by my girlfriend Anne. I started to wonder about why nice notebooks, specific colored pens (of specific thickness of course), and a paper calendar are so important to me. I owe it to Madame Menegay…

When I was in middle school, she was my favorite teacher. She was super strict on everything and on one thing in particular: how we took notes and how we underlined our notes. She taught us the hierarchy of note taking (roman numerals, numerical numbers, capital letters, small letters). For example:

– Football

1. AFC

A. East

a) The Patriots

b) The Miami Dolphins

B. West

2. NFC

– Baseball

I am sure you all see how the hierarchy works… of course, back then she was teaching French, History, and Geography… We had to underline our notes – that was the process to be used to review class material before exams. We had to have different colored pens, underline with a ruler (the Roman numeral categories were underlined twice), and underline particularly important points with a squiggle line.

This might explain my obsession with paper and colored pens. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Blackberry, but for calendaring, I can’t bring myself to replace my At-A-Glance calendar. I have been using them since 2003 (and of course keep all of the old ones). I love being able to see my week on two pages – it gives me an overview that I can’t get on a screen. I color code my appointments and at the end of every week, I do something I learned from Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta. At the end of every week, she looks at her calendar and color codes various activities retroactively. I have three different colored pens to group the week’s activities and meetings in three categories: the meetings that contributed to your professional development or development of your business, the activities that contributed to your personal enjoyment, and the tasks that I should do less of. That enables me to visually get a sense of how I am spending my time, and if there is too much of the “do this less” and not enough of the “personal enjoyment” then I shift things around the following week. How would all of this visualization and color coding work on an electronic calendar?

I was at a luncheon with Anne a couple of weeks ago, and the subject of paper / pencil versus electronic preferences came up. I told her about my complex calendaring process, and she seemed surprised… yet intrigued. This week, she emailed me and wrote that she had been mulling over my system, and was considering going back to paper, and would I let her know what type of paper calendar I use, and next we get together would I show her my color coding system. Yes and yes!

 

Rituals

When I was growing up in Geneva, there was a certain rythm to the week. One of the things I knew for sure, no matter what, was that Sunday night was family dinner night. Spaghetti with home-made tomato sauce, more specifically. My mother would cook the tomatoes on low heat all Sunday long, then peel them, add rosemary, salt, pepper, cook them some more, and then finally boil the water for the spaghetti. Any family member, immediate or less immediate, who was in Geneva on Sunday nights was invited, wordlessly, and would show up. That was our Sunday evening ritual. The sun rises every morning. And spaghetti is served at my Mom’s house every Sunday night.