The Opening Bell

Articles from The Opening Bell

Reaping the Harvest

by Bonnie Bell, MA, MDiv., Principal, Director of Career/Life Coaching

October 2018

It seems like, every year, the very day after Labor Day I am ambushed by fall. While I am still holding onto summer, still wearing my white jeans, and still having barbecues, I don’t want to even think about fall. This year the weather even joined the conspiracy in Berkeley, so we could have our patio doors open all day and the windows open all night. I could have sworn it was just the beginning of a long, hot summer.

As if the whole of nature’s plan were to kick me unexpectedly into autumn, early September was dark and cold, making it harder than ever to get out of bed. The first thing I did after forcing myself from under the warmth of the blankets was to turn up the heat, after which I raised the kitchen blinds — and right there on the other side of the window was a flying Wallenda-type squirrel streaking through a pile of dried leaves with a walnut in his jaws. I swear those orange leaves weren’t anywhere to be seen when we were tidying up the patio for the barbecue yesterday! Next, when I went out onto the driveway to retrieve the newspapers, I noticed the same frenzied squirrel digging a hole in the earth for his nut.

The Rush is On

Before I’d had a chance to put the water on to boil, reality came crashing in: Back to school! Back to work! Here come the pumpkins! Here comes the turkey! The Christmas Tree! The New Year! So much to do! I’ll never get it done! When I get to the office, the phone seems to be ringing a little more urgently. Something has nudged people to feel the same way I am. They need to get busy finding a new job! That means a new resume, a new search, interviews, lots of anxiety. The rush is on. No wonder the squirrels are flying out of the trees!

The shorter days, longer nights, and darker mornings are getting me in the mood to pick up my pace and have me remembering the particular sights, sounds and smells of fall — every year, I forget how much I love these. I just took a moment to Google “Harvest Moon for Berkeley” and see that the gigantic orange ball will make its appearance on October 24, in case you are interested. I always am. Last year’s was ridiculously huge and ridiculously orange and would have brought me to my knees had I not been in the car when I spotted it, hanging perilously close to a rooftop on a Berkeley hillside. Now, in writing this, my head is beginning to fill with harvest thinking: pumpkins on the vine, goblins, witches brew, apple cider, pumpkin pie, a festival of colors and smells, the fruits of our labor, Halloween.

What’s Next?

This morning I woke up thinking about the new client I met with for the first time just yesterday. She is thinking about what’s next for her and how to keep doing what she loves to do, but with a little less stress and a little more time to enjoy this next stage of her life — while she is still healthy, has much to offer, and has a chance to “give back.” She asks Do you do retirement coaching? I answer:

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I have coaching clients from ages 25 to 75. Every age and stage presents another transition, and transitions are hard — and usually painful in unexpected ways. It’s wise to have a knowledgeable companion for the journey — a coach. Transition is a time to grieve what we’re losing, celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and plan for what’s next.

What an incredible first session we had — this woman who called about retirement coaching and I. It became obvious that our work will lead us to the greatest harvest of all: the harvest of a rich, deep, purposeful, meaningful life; one that is well-lived and deeply appreciated.

This is the time to come into your fullness, I say, to come into your wisdom, power, and peace! But that usually doesn’t arrive all at once or all by itself. You have to clear everything up, take charge, “reflect and capture” what you think, claim who you are. And then to actually be who you are: know what you care about, what you believe, and what your most important gifts and talents are; and decide how you want to live and what you want to do with the many years ahead.

Winter will come eventually, but not just yet.

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