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headshot of Jamie Martin

Ahh, October — my favorite month of the year. I love how the Midwest explodes in vibrant hues, and the brisk morning air melds with the unexpected warmth of afternoons. I love football games and trips to apple orchards, cozy sweatshirts, raking and jumping in the leaves with my kids, the final garden harvest, the sound of corn drying in the bins on my parents’ farm. I crave hearty soups and apple cider — and without a doubt always enjoy a pumpkin cookie or two (maybe three) when they become available at our favorite local bakery.

For me, October brings comfort and cues for settling in. After the non-stop go of summer and the frenetic start of the school year, my family’s schedule is finally familiar, the routines more predictable.

It is also my birthday month and the time of year when I devote space and energy to introspection. I’m not a big birthday person — at least when it comes to celebrating my own — but I do believe in using the date of my arrival on this Earth as an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been, to get honest about where I am right now, and to dream about where I want to go, what I want to do, and who I want to be in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

An essential element of this annual review is a deep dive into the values that shape and inspire my life: What’s most important to me? What lights me up? What brings true peace, joy, and satisfaction into my life?

As I began to contemplate these questions recently, a few key desires quickly rose to the surface, offering a preview of my 35th year:

To connect more often and more deeply with my husband, family, and friends; to reconnect with a few people I’ve lost touch with in the last decade, but whom I still think of often.

To play with my kids more — the laundry and cleaning can wait.

To jump, laugh, and be silly without hesitation.

To move in ways that bring me joy and support optimal health; to focus less on measurable results and more on feeling confident and radiant in my strong, capable body.

To nourish my body (with good nutrition), my mind (with thought-provoking and inspirational books instead of social media), and my soul (with more prayer, more yoga, more self-care, more stillness).

To balance the personal and professional by setting boundaries (no work email after the kids go to bed!) that respect my family and my team.

For me, these words and statements come together to create what’s essentially my mission statement: to live a healthy, meaningful, joy-filled life.

My next step is to create a vision board (for tips on making one of your own, see “Share Your Vision”) and then get more specific by identifying the support I’ll need to move forward day by day, in terms of both people and resources. It’s a process, for sure, but the one I’ve found to be the most effective in moving me forward.

When was the last time you revisited your values? What lights you up? Jot down the words that come to mind. Find images in magazines that speak to you. These exercises may just help you make forward progress, too.

In the meantime, settle in, grab a cup of tea (or apple cider, if that’s also your thing), and enjoy this “Get Healthy” issue of Experience Life. Happy fall!

Photography by Chad Holder

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