La rentrée | How To Design Your Perfect September
Did you know that the French have an actual phrase for returning to “real life” the first week of September after the summer holiday?
It’s called la rentrée, and may I just say, I’m rentrée-ing so hard this year.
It’s taken me a long time to come around to loving September, but the further I get away from my schooldays (and I’m quite far now), the less September seems the end of something fun (summer), and the more it seems the start of something wonderful and new (autumn).
To quote Joe Fox from You’ve Got Mail, “Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies.”
Yes. Yes I do love New York in the fall, and hell yes I want to buy school supplies. I want to buy school supplies, I want to wear boots, I want cozy blankets, and I want the fall candles I ordered to be here already.
But la rentrée for me this year is about more to me this year than anticipation of the changing leaves, sweater weather and all things pumpkin.
If I’m being honest with myself, I didn’t have the best summer. Not a bad summer. There is plenty to be thankful for, and plenty of wonderful moments. But as I sort of meandered through the last days of August, I faced the hard realization that instead of feeling relaxed from all the time off (I had a rare break in deadlines), I felt aimless.
Maybe I’m just really bad at vacation (definitely possible), but filling my brain and body and soul and with purposeless junk in the name of “time off,” left me feeling listless rather than recharged.
Something needed to change, big time, and what better time of year to turn things around than September?
Those of you who take my Life by Design course in December/January know that I’m big on annual theme words as a way of making sure my life feels deliberate rather than reactionary.
This year, I’m leaning all the way into the fresh start nature of September, treating it as a mini New Year of sorts, complete with giving the month its own theme word:
I’m imagining that I’ve hit a reset button that’s wiped clean all the mindless apathy of my summer, and am starting with a clean slate. And I can’t remember the last time I felt this fresh, focused and enthused about my life.
Whether you’re thrilled about the unofficial start of fall like me, or bemoaning the end of summer, here are three ways to make bring out your best self in September.
3 ways to make the most of la rentrée:
Make an autumn bucket list
Full credit for this idea goes to Jessica Lemmon, who mentioned on Sunday that she was putting together a fall bucket list. I immediately dashed to copy her. A bucket list is a great way to get excited about the days ahead, and a seasonal bucket list is even better because the finite timespan makes it feel achievable. I was so excited about my list that I shared it with Anthony, and he immediately got on board and added some ideas of his own. As a result, the next couple months feel full of potential and promise. Some of the items on our list: Harry Potter marathon, fall camping (bonfire!), New England foliage trip, and a photo shoot in Central Park.
Make a mood board
For those visual types, a mood board of what you want your month/season to look like can be super inspiring. Pinterest is great for this—simply create a board (private or not, your choice!) and start adding things that light you up. It can be pictures of cozy sweaters, rain boots, fall leaves, pumpkin carving, apple picking, campfires, vacations, freshly sharpened pencils—anything that makes you smile and think, “Yes, I want that!” If you want to take it a step further, use free service like Canva to put some of your favorite images on a graphic and make it your phone’s wallpaper! To get the right size for your device, use the pixel dimensions listed here.
Come up with a theme word
I know theme words don’t work for everyone—plenty of people find them gimmicky, but I feel pretty strongly that without my guiding theme words over the years, I’d still be working 9-5 in a cubicle (which was not my dream life). If you’re a word geek like me, why not give yourself a focus word for the month! Grab a piece of paper or a blank document on your computer and start brainstorming words that speak to you—ways you want to feel, things you want to see/do, the person you want to be.
Some ideas to get you started: fresh, cozy, alive, focused, peaceful, happy, productive, success, compassion, confidence, creativity, change, intentional, thrive, journey.
Once you’ve settled on the one that feels the most right, write it on a sticky, make it your computer wallpaper, jot it on a napkin and put it on your fridge, write it on your mirror in lipstick, whatever it takes to keep it in front of you and guide your day-to-day decisions!
Vive la rentrée.