Life Lessons I Learned This Fall

what I learned

It’s that time again when I join my friend Emily P.Freeman and share some of the life lessons I learned this season. This fall is particularly exciting because I am personally transitioning into a different season of life. Because of entering a new phase, most of my life lessons this fall are stories and memories that tug at the sleeve of my heart.

Life Lessons From Mr. Rogers

Fred Rogers

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As a kid, I always knew there was something special about Fred Rogers. But I couldn’t quite figure it out until I became an adult. My hero worship of Fred began in my grandmother’s living room when I was eight.

Every afternoon at 4:00, I waited for Fred to make his grand entrance through the door. I tried to guess the color of the sweater he would wear that day.

With the help of our 17″ Panasonic color television, the neighborhood was a magical place. Fred helped me to make sense of my world that seemed to be at that time, falling apart around me.

My parents were going through a divorce, but it was Prince Tuesday and Lady Aberlin, who reminded me that my parents’ divorce was not my fault.

That was all the reassurance my eight-year-old self needed.

My hero worship continued.

When I became a parent, I used Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood to learn about the art of parenting. He showed me the art of speaking to kids and how to make every effort to empathize with them.

My kids and I nestled on the couch, waiting to hang out with Yo-Yo Ma or have a conversation about feelings.

The lesson I learned is that this world needs more human heroes like Fred, not more CGI designed superheroes or Hollywood defined heroes.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood exemplified the simplicity we crave but find so difficult to implement in real life.

Even though my nest is nearly empty, I still have those tough parenting days, and I always find myself asking, “what would Mr. Rogers do?”

New Favorite Motto

American novelist Anne Lamott says that ” You can either practice being right or practice being kind.” I stumbled upon her profound words at some point this fall.

I scribbled down her sentence on a Post It™ then showcased it on my desk next to my laptop. Cruelly crafted words have been known to wreck marriages, dismantle kingdoms, and depose leaders.

Mix vicious words with social media, and you have a lethal weapon.  Lamott bears her soul in the pages of her novels. She does so not out of sensationalism but to help her readers weave through hardship.

As a writer, I, too, want to be known for curating words that bring healing and hope. 



Update on Grad School at Mid-life

I used to be a misfit planner. I bought artful planners with a section for goal setting but never quite accomplished many of those goals.

Many of the goals I often set conflicted with the particular season of life I was in.

This fall, I wrote the goal: start grad school. I am happy to report that my first semester of grad school is almost done.

Slowly and steadily, I am accomplishing this goal because it is the right season of my life to commit to such a huge endeavor.

I learned early on in my mothering that I was not one of those women who could successfully balance a lot of plates in the air. I was satisfied with that self-discovery.

This fall, I transitioned to a new season with only one chick left in the nest. Now was the time to put pen to paper and write down my goal of returning to grad school.

Who knows what my next crazy mid-life goal will be, maybe, write a book?

I Miss Our Friday Library Days

The children’s section of our local library has been part of our weekly rhythm for decades. I joke with the librarians that when my last child graduates, the library will have collected enough money from our overdue fines to erect a wing in our honor. For real.

Fridays were our usual library days. We would max out our library cards then transport our literary haul to the mini-van.

In our small-town library, I could leave my kids occupied with a copy of a Dorling Kindersley or Guinness Book of World Records and sneak off to the magazine section to catch up on the latest issue of People magazine.

what I learned this fall

As a young mom, I dreamed of the day when I could go to the library and spend time pouring over new fiction without trying to maneuver a stroller down the narrow aisles.

I used to think about the day I would trade the diaper bag for a fashionable leather library tote.

Leaky juice cups in the library would be a distant memory.

It happened. I inhaled, and my kids grew up.

This fall, I stopped by the library, and I was ALONE.

No backup pacifier buried deep inside my purse, no library fines to pay, no temper tantrums to contend with. It was just me and my semi-fashionable library tote.

I should have sprinted to the home decorating shelves. Overcome with nostalgia. I headed to what was familiar and what I miss—the children’s section.

The once irritating hum of the Lego Preschool computer game was now music to my mid-life ears.

Suddenly, I felt like an intruder, an interloper, like one who no longer belongs in that world.

I mourned for our list of Newberry Classics.

When my kids were young, children’s book authors like Holling C. Holling, Dr. Seuss, Helen Oxenbury, Babara Cooney, Robert McCloskey, and Virginia Lee Burton sprinkled literary pixie dust on our afternoon reading time.

Grateful for the memories swirling in my head, I sat in the toddler chair, rewinding the years of our weekly book hauls.

Learn to take every memory captive and stick it in your pocket. Pull those beloved memories out when you find yourself longing for yesterdays.

Life Lessons Learned in the Fall of 2019

It’s a pleasure to share these heartfelt life lessons with you. If you want to gather together more often, then join my soulful lifestyle healthy living circle of friends. Don’t forget to connect on Instagram or Facebook. I look forward to clasping virtual hands together on this soulful healthy living journey.

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  1. Lynn Richards on December 2, 2019 at 6:58 pm
    I enjoyed reading this wonderful, inspirational, and inclusive post! As a woman of an unspeakable age, I, too, this fall returned to school to learn a foreign language. I am defying naysayers that, to my face questioned my decision to learn a language because of my...uhh hum...older age! This education does not only take me down a new, yet somewhat familiar path at work, but is enhancing my life and sustaining my good mental health. This is one of the best decisions I have ever made! Additionally, this fall, during a brave, confident moment, I expanded my circle of friends by reaching out to a group of local women who became a part of my life via my children. We are all literally soccer moms and are all in the throes of raising teenagers. I am hoping they become good friends, as this is such a small community I like knowing that these women have my kids best interest at heart, and we can all work together to keep them safe and sound.
    • Denise Sultenfuss on December 6, 2019 at 12:08 pm
      Lynn, Thanks for leaving a thoughtful and insightful comment. I am glad to know that you've found a circle of friends that support you on this mothering teen journey. One is never too old to learn a new skill! Keep it up.
  2. Megan Hall on December 2, 2019 at 10:57 pm
    Fred rogers is an awesome man. I loved the movie about him. Now I am ready to watch the documentary.
    • Denise Sultenfuss on December 3, 2019 at 12:34 pm
      Yay! Thanks for stopping by today! We need more heroes like Fred!
  3. Aryn the Libraryan 📚 on December 4, 2019 at 10:32 am
    I've begun checking out Mr Roger's Neighborhood from our library to watch with my 6 and almost 2 year old sons. The memories, the lessons athe fun are so much better than I remembered! (and I have a pretty good memory!) I love the idea of a quarterly review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'll be considering how I can do that better!
    • Denise Sultenfuss on December 6, 2019 at 12:06 pm
      Hi Aryn, thanks for stopping by to visit. A quarterly self-review and reflection of practices and rhythms is always refreshing.
  4. Sarah Butterfield on December 4, 2019 at 10:39 am
    I love that quote from Anne Lamott! And good for you for starting grad school :). My boys are currently 5 and 7 and I love our library days... thanks for your poignant reminder to savor this parenting season!
  5. verthilertva on January 15, 2020 at 6:24 am
    Very good written article. It will be helpful to anyone who usess it, including myself. Keep up the good work - i will definitely read more posts.

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