by Marilynn Preston

The change of seasons is here again. Summer, winter, fall, spring … but not in that order. Our bodies know the natural order of things. Molecularly speaking, what’s outside us is inside, as well — spring, summer, autumn, winter.

So how do we in America know it’s the fall?

Back to a quick lesson in the metaphysics of seasonal shift: When the seasons change, so can we. It’s an ancient belief and a very good story to tell yourself. In Longfellow’s view, the autumn air is filled with “a dreamy and magical light.” Keats called it the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”

HARVEST YOUR STRENGTHS. In fall, we are hardwired to harvest the fruits (and vegetables) of our labors. Of course, most of us are not working in the fields anymore, picking our apples, gathering our squashes, but still we have the bounty of our efforts to think about.

Take a moment. What are some things you’ve accomplished since the year began? Maybe you worked on getting healthier foods in your kid’s lunchroom. (Bravo!) Or maybe you’re managing to stay calm during difficult moments with your stressed out spouse or your crazy boss. Maybe your newfound strength comes from lifting weights twice a week in a functional fitness class that happens to be run by a dishy guy in tight shorts.

Whatever it is, write down these personal accomplishments. These are your successes. They remind you of your strengths, so you can build on them. You’ll need to be strong this fall. Fighting off colds and flus by eating smart and exercising daily is part of it. So is recognizing the seasonal tendency toward melancholy, the end of one thing and the start of something else, colder and darker.

EVERYTHING CHANGES. In autumn, signs of impermanence are everywhere. Allow yourself to feel some loss. The flowers were blooming; now they’re dead. The leaves turn a spectacular red and gold and then they crisp and drop. The Autumn Equinox relates to darkness and death in many cultures — a traditional time for turning inward — but there is reason to celebrate, too.

As Tias Little, a yoga master for all seasons, writes on PrajnaYoga.net: “This time of year suggests both birth and death. The birth of new projects, a new school year, new classes, dreams and goals. … That birth and death happen together is a good reminder of the ongoing flow and change of all things.”

Everything changes. Fall is a good time to let go of things in your life that no longer serve you. Just as trees lose their leaves, you might lose your interest in processed foods. Or let go of your anger. Then you’re more likely to feel your sap rising, and you’ll head out to the dance floor.

ALL ABOUT BALANCE. On the fall equinox, day and night are of equal length. After that, the days get shorter, and the nights are longer. On the first day of the equinox, the sun enters the sign of Libra, the constellation of scales. It’s a time to contemplate balance in your life, work, and your focus on small screen technology.

What are you prepared to do — set one goal! — to bring more balance into your life? Maybe the Libra image has you thinking of another kind of scale, the bathroom kind, and how much you’d like to change that number. Yes you can! Commit to your goal, act with certainty, and see the obstacles fall away.

PLAN FOR GRATITUDE. In fall, you gather up whatever you’ve got, and plan for the winter. (Play with me here. Forget the fact that you can shop for food 24/7 and buy sweet corn in February.) Be grateful for what you have. Help others who have less. The darkness is still there, but you’ve extended the light, and when winter comes, you’ve got your acorns stored.

To find out more about Preston and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com