Fall Survival Kit – Return to Basics

Nov 2, 2016 | Transformation

I am not going to lie: Fall is the hardest stretch for me, always.
The boys, work, the transition into cold weather, although I love the Indian Summer in NY, I always find myself breathless, not to say most of the time spinning. And this year is no exception with the intense violence spread in the news everyday (national & international), and the transition from running 2 restaurants instead of 1…
Yet, this time around, I’ve never felt more energized. Probably because more than ever, I grounded myself & went back to the essential. Here are my basics, and how I draw energy, whether it be in work, a run at the park or a glass of red wine..

I think it only struck me last year how my work flow & energy are aligned with the seasons: in the spring I feel a surge of creativity & energy that explodes in an exuberance of creations and work over the warm months. I am restless then, and can work an incredible amount of hours as long as I can lie in the sun here and there.
The fall is when I start to slow down & be more measured in my doing & start to be more expansive in my thinking. I like to say that I start to slow down to only go faster at a different level (because in all honesty, although I am all about slow food, measured progress, sustainable growth, I hate going slow. It takes every cell in my body to actually slow down. Ask my employees, my friends, my kids…).
Fall is the time I change gears, basically to take stock of what the sunny months have brought to me & what I have accomplished.
I start to assess, ponder, and integrate what I have been through at a more cellular level.

As the light decrease, I go inside myself more. I force myself to work with more measure and stop when I am exhausted, not push through as I do most of the time so I never find myself in a stage of complete depletion. It is harder to regenerate when it is dark by 5 & rainy anyway & when one’s body is constantly adjusting to different temperatures.
This is such a huge transition that I am careful who I let in at that time: I do not have room for anything or anyone that will suck up energy so I manage my social calendar very conservatively & it can sometimes feel a bit lonely. Not a lot of gatherings or long evenings with friends. I am stocking up the bit of sun left & gearing up for the whirlpool that the holidays will bring no matter what.

Fall is the time to reset as well with my boys: During the summer, we all go our separate ways & to find our rhythm again in the fall after what are always transformative summer months can take a minute. It is not always smooth but we always land somewhere brighter. The boys are the perfect illustration of the impermanence that one should embrace in their life: at my stage as I keep aging, I try to keep that quiet, but for them, growth is exuberant & unpredictable (Theo is the perfect illustration of that symbol, he grew 2 inches in 6 weeks…) and there is always something new: ew school, new sports (and yeah, new shoes, sweater). As a mother, it is crucial for me to not miss that transition that often sets the tone for the rest of the school year.

To feed myself externally in all of those transitions, I have a few things in my routine that are necessary.

The first is to run outside: my dear friend Martha says that there is no such thing as bad weather for a runner, only bad equipment… I guess I am not that fierce; I run inside when it gets very cold so in the fall, for as long as I can, I run outside. I like a quick short 3 miles run in the morning before starting my day. I put on my shoes & the same shorts, t-shirt every single time. It is part of the routine & brings such relief not to have to think about what to wear and why. I jump out of bed & run the minute I am out of the front door. I listen to the same soundtracks weeks in a row. It is part of the routine, I just focus on the road & what streets will have the better sun exposure & I am gone.
The mornings I wake up completely exhausted, overwhelmed & spinning are the mornings I reach for my running shoes no matter what. No excuse unless it is pouring rain. I just have to repeat to myself that it is not about how fast I will run but how far I will go, and with that mantra I ground myself, I pace myself, and by the time I get to Maison May, my head is clearer. I never regret a run.

The other important part of my fall routine is wine & food, as always…
As my schedule is always packed, I found myself cherishing my simple outing to the green market every Saturday even more, like a day out of town & I make it a non-negotiable time I carve out to care for myself.
I like the simple pleasure of grabbing my huge basket & walking slowly (yes, sloooowly) there. It helps me stay in the rhythm of the season, to stay in tune with my surroundings & to not forget why I do what I do at Maison May. It helps my brain to ease into the change of season to see the vegetables turning from exuberant tomatoes & corn & herbs & berries, to sturdy leafy greens only and roots and apples I also love talking to farmers who are winding down as well and are getting ready for a different kind of work during the winter (As I write that I realize I must have been a farmer in a previous life- but then, haven’t we all at some point?)
And the food that I carry home leads me to drink differently: I say ciao to rosé & hello to red (not that I don’t drink red during the summer).As I start to cook more hearty food, I reach for deeper wines.
It is a way to draw more energy in. I like my wine to be natural, biodynamanic, in short, alive. There should be no filter between the elements & the wine: I want to feel the sun that shone on the grapes, feel the ocean breeze that brushed the bunches & taste the raspberries that grew on the bush alongside the vineyard. In natural wine, you can taste all that, it encompasses more than grape juice, but a piece of the microcosm, the land where the grapes where grown. There is no pesticides, additives or any other artificial stuff to alter the reality of the vineyard that year.
I like to sit with a glass of red & swirl it in my glass and imagining the piece of land it grew on, packing up sun & energy in a different way.

And with all that & if I keep my routine strong, I ease myself in to the winter slowly & not as painfully as some years past when my summer fire would consume me by mid-October…

I guess I grew wiser. Or maybe just older.