A Road Trip to North Carolina: As Autumn Leaves

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Fall is a season of change. The weather and scenery slowly turn and before we realize it, the holiday season is just around the corner.

It's amazing how quickly we become caught up in our circumstances – whether it's work, the busyness of the holidays or preparing for travel – our energy becomes the opposite of slow.

As you can see by from my Instagram, it's during these times that I have to take a road trip to experience the true fall season and take time to decompress. Last weekend, I brought a few girlfriends up to North Carolina for a weekend getaway in the mountains (this is turning into a fun tradition). On the way up, we experienced the peak of fall and the transition to winter, but the bareness of the trees in the Sparta valley was still incredible to me. Our childlike nature appeared once again and we were running in forests, making see-saws out of trees and of course climbing them. Bear with me here as I get metaphorical, but as I was watching the sunlight shine through the woods, it made me realize that we are all kind of like the trees during this season. Our 'leaves' are hitting their peaks (good and bad), preparing for new endeavors, realizing that the year is coming to an end and becoming bare or vulnerable to those around us.

There's something about the cozy winter months that makes people want to feel more security in relationships, friendships and family situations that we're willing to let our guards down, myself included. We shift from the carefree summer lifestyle we just experienced to reflecting on the people we surround ourselves with and the year we just had. It's bittersweet but another great opportunity to start making changes to places we want to be by the end of the year.

The winter season is more about reflection and gratitude, which can be hard to remember in the midst of the holidays.

Before I left for the road trip, a hilarious series of unfortunate events occurred (i.e. leaving the wrong key, car issues, miscommunication, etc.) and my first impulse was, "I hate my life." After I said it, I immediately had to stop to remind myself that I don't hate my life *plus you're about to go on an awesome trip*. So, it's actually kind of great. For some reason that phrase has become an immediate response when things are taking a turn for the worse and although I don't mean it, I need to be more intentional about combining a situational issue into "my life." It made me start thinking about things that I am so quick to take for granted and how I need to force myself to stop thinking about what's going wrong, as opposed to what's going right.

To help shift my focus to being more aware of what I do have, I started by creating my own 'book of gratitude.' Each day I've been writing something, simple or complex, that happened in my day that I was thankful for. It helps me pinpoint the good in every day and it will be really cool to reflect on for years to come. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, this seems like a good habit to start.

All that to say, I love this season. Although it's full of hustle and bustle and events galore, I get to see everyone that matters in my life and spend time in cities that I love.

My goal is to be intentional about where I invest my time and energy and make sure it's on things that I know will matter in the long run. I challenge you to take 5 minutes a day to point out 5 things or people that your thankful for and let them know that. And as the holiday advertisements takeover every commercial, billboard and Facebook ad, make sure that you're investing money on experiences rather than things, because those will definitely last longer than any product money can buy.

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