Autumn’s Last Song

Autumn's vibrant colors.
Autumn’s vibrant colors.

I woke early this morning and decided to go for a walk around our humble homestead. Being a lover of the outdoors and nature, it’s one of my favorite ways to get a few extra steps in my day. Noticing the various ways that autumn is nudging out the last vestiges of summer, I decided to take a few photos as I strolled.

We’ve already had a heavy frost up here on the hill, and dare I say that we have seen sleet and flurries as well! I am not looking forward to another frigid Pennsylvania winter, though I wouldn’t want to give up the variety of all four seasons. Each bringing its own charming appeal.

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Free-ranging on the homestead.

Spring, with its long-awaited warmth, splendid sunshine, gardening, clean fresh air, and much needed relief from months of cabin fever!  (Not to mention my excitement of once again hanging fresh laundry out to dry in warm gusts of wind.)

Summer – full of lazy afternoons, picnics, extended daylight to work in the yard, freshly grown produce, nights around the fire pit with good neighbors and great friends, trips to the lake and glowing summer skin.

Then fall suddenly sneaks in as the imageexcitement of a new school year begins and you start to notice the intense brightness of the sun positioned lower in the sky. Leaves start to turn, festivals abound, and apples are full and ripe on the trees as squirrels scurry to store away provisions for the winter – reminding me that I’d better harvest the last of the winter squash and find a cool place in the basement to preserve it until the day we have a proper root cellar.

And finally… Old Man Winter arrives. When the dark grey clouds hang low and the air is brisk with the smell of coming snow. Swirling flakes – sometimes softly fluttering down like a picturesque card – putting you in the mood for a quaint Christmas! And at other times a whirling white-out of a blizzard pelting you with its icy little balls while you tug your hat a little tighter and snug your scarf up around your face just to step out and get the mail.

Preparing for colder weather.
Preparing for colder weather.

It’s comforting that each season brings a special appeal, just like the seasons of our own lives. Always changing, growing, letting go – as well as leaving behind, and renewing its beauty. Just as God intended.


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Five Easy Ways To Simplify Your Life

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Sometimes things are easier said than done. Some things seem far too simple to be effective or too darned difficult to even start. There are many ways one can begin to simplify their life, but doing so doesn’t only mean downsizing, buying less, having everything in its place, or clearing your schedule of a lot of  “stuff”. Of course these ideas are a huge part of a simple lifestyle. But here, I will list five other ways that I have personally found to simplify my own life.

  1. Think positive. Ok, before you quickly scroll past this obvious idea, consider this… Being positive is a choice. Most of my life I’ve lived with thoughts of negativity. But being negative about any situation is not going to help your cause. Is your problem really the issue, or is it all in the way you look at your problem? As soon as we allow negativity to creep into our thoughts and become the filter through which we pass all things, it begins to sap the joy and peace from our lives. Instead, find the positive in every situation. Make a list if you must. (Even if it is simply a list of what your situation is not). Live with an attitude of Faith.
  2. Be happy with what you’ve got. A simple person is a satisfied person, not craving more things, but thoroughly enjoying what she has, and trusting God’s provision at all times.
  3. Stop trying to do things you’re not good at. No, really. I mean it. Life’s too short. Stop frustrating yourself and instead take joy in the simple pleasure of those things for which you are passionate. These are the things that will cause you to excel and find joy. Bonus: Allow yourself to say no. Even saying yes to too many good things is a bad thing.)
  4. Stop worrying about what others think.  Recognize that if someone has a problem with you, and you simply can’t please them,  it is their problem, not yours. they are only hurting themselves. Let it go. Accept them for who they are and move forward.
  5. Take control of your thoughts. Where the mind goes, the heart follows. You know it when you’re heading down a destructive path with your thinking. Redirect. You can control where your mind goes. It is not easy at first, but once you’ve practiced, and mastered, this crucial element you will have achieved a major break-through in your goal to simple living. You will find that you’ve got more self control, more compassion, more patience, and more margin for the good stuff in your life. Let go of the ugly. How? Start by filling your mind with good stuff. Positive media only. If television, radio talk shows, your news feed, or whatever – brings out the defensiveness in you, do away with it. Don’t go there. Believe it or not, there is a lot of positive stuff out there if you look for it.

Understand that our culture would have you believe that you must have more – bigger , better, newer, flashier, bling-ier. More aspiration, more on your plate, more to attend, more expensive or brand name items… More headaches, more stress, more to maintain, more, more, more. Don’t believe it. In order to simplify you must be different. Willing to go against the grain. Willing to stand for what matters most to you, and let go of worldly things. Consider whether something truly fits into the lifestyle you want for you and your family. Simplicity begins with you.

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