(click image for a larger view)

Above is the cover of my latest art journal.  As I anticipate dipping my wellies into the puddles of autumn, I have found a safe place in this journal to turn inward. My intention is to create art journal pieces in this notebook regularly as I experience the change of seasons, and perhaps even (gasp!) delight in some of these changes. My hope is to at least immerse myself in the present moment and to find meaning in this tricky time of year for me.

The other day, during my recent CranioSacral session with my amazing therapist Ella, I told her how the transition from summer to autumn feels like a sticky, pin-prick, dung-infested slide into a black hole of despair.  Her eyes widened. Then, I laughed, looked at myself, and said, “Well, maybe that’s a little melodramatic.” And then I said, “It’s actually more like I have amnesia every year at this time and forget how I mourn summer and feel my body resist the coming of Fall.”

She asked me some more questions about my autumnal amnesia, as well as questions about how my physical body was doing. I mentioned a tightness in my chest, some fatigue, and “oh yeah, I almost fell down the stairs the other day when trying to hang a piece of art.”  I told her how I caught myself from falling by bracing my arms and hands against the wall and that I’d been a little sore lately.   Needless to say, my little “side note” was the focus of the session, for I had tweaked my body in many places and was out of alignment and out of balance.

When I returned home from my Ella experience, I described the session to my partner Walter.  In his usual insightful manner, he said, “Do you notice how you resisted falling?”    Of course I didn’t want to fall. I didn’t want to take a face-plant into the tile at the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t understand what he was getting at. “No, he said. Your session with Ella was about resisting Fall and the whole session was in your response to resisting a fall. And in doing so, it hurt.”

Huh.  We both contemplated this metaphorical conundrum.  “So would I have hurt less if I had let myself fall down the stairs?” I asked.  “Maybe this metaphor doesn’t work,” he said.

“Well, if I had fully let go, allowed my body to be soft, perhaps I would have fallen gracefully. Maybe my body would have been less stuck as a result.” And then the image of the “Nestea plunge” came to mind — an image I often associate with Summer, but thought perhaps it’s well-suited for Fall.  Maybe a full surrender is needed, I thought. Perhaps I needed to risk getting hurt, letting my body be soft and receptive, and ultimately letting go.

Now I’m glad I didn’t fall down the stairs, but resisting a fall can sometimes cause more damage than actually falling.  My body not only held tension from my close-call, but it held fear in it for sure. After the CranioSacral session I almost felt dizzy, like I was looking at the world anew, trying to realign myself.  That is what Fall-ing is like, I realized. Entering Fall for me requires a whole-body surrender and a dose of 20-20 vision.

The quote at the bottom of the journal above reads, “May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.”  I didn’t realize until now how much this represents the path of Autumn — a relinquishing, a turning inward, a profound transcendence of stuckness, and a deep listening to the anxiety and sorrow that I often try to so hard to keep at bay.  Fall is a time to listen to the lessons of our sorrows, to curl up in these lessons with a cup of warm tea in hand, and to transcend them by taking them in bravely, fully, and like a full exhale, letting them go.

About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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5 Responses to Fall-ing

  1. Nancy H says:

    Courtney, this blog entry is so good. I relate to your description of resisting fall, as I have done the same thing for as long as I can remember. Significant life losses – and new beginnings, I have to say , have happened this time of year for me. I like how you make everything creative. …and that Walter, he’s wise & insightful.

  2. shhsky says:

    What a beautiful journal page. You are very talented.

  3. Megan Potter says:

    Did you notice that the hands on your journal almost look like they are bracing for a fall or trying to hold something off?

    Your take on fall is interesting to me because I’m just the opposite. I love the Fall and feel my whole self loosen up with it; while the summer is immensely difficult for me. Each year it comes around and so do my issues – I wonder if our issue isn’t amnesia but denial. How, after all, can a simple season affect us so much? Yet every summer…


  4. just so courtney… a surrender of softness…i’m seeing your nestea plunge as you fall into a pile of vividly colored leaves…a soft and slightly crunchy nest.

  5. Thank you all for your comments!

    Laura, I love that image of doing the Nestea plunge into a pile of leaves!

    Megan, I hadn’t noticed the hands reaching out and bracing in my art piece. Isn’t amazing how art can be so revealing. I often find that I learn things about my thinking/feeling/process AFTER I create.

    Nancy, I hope this transition to fall has been gentle on you.


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