Despite a bit of denial after what seemed to be an abbreviated summer, seeing snowflakes on my weekly commute over the Cascades, digging out my mittens, and the sudden necessity of hot coffee in the morning rather than my typical iced latte, has forced me to accept that, indeed, autumn is upon us.

Autumn is a perfect opportunity to practice optimism — to embrace the glass half full so to speak, especially when it’s half full with pumpkin spice goodness. It is an opportunity to witness the beauty of letting go as golden and bronzed leaves drift to rest on forest floors and to welcome contemplation and change amid nature’s inevitable transition. For some of us, autumn can represent the beginning of wintertime and holiday trepidations, which makes it more difficult to cozy up to the idea of warm sweaters, fireside cuddles, and flavors from the harvest. Creating physical space to welcome nature’s fated changeover can help lessen anxiety and enhance feelings of acceptance, joy, and contentment.

When it comes to seasonal home décor, I certainly am not on a pedestal. Somehow between work demands, commutes, and proximity to family and friends who are far more inclined to bestow seasonal delights, my efforts at seasonal décor are negligible.

I took much pride in taking the time to hang the one strand of lights that donned my front door for the holidays last year. Somehow, that seemed like a lot. Oh yes, I must also mention the single bundle of tinsel tossed hastily along my mantle and the wreath bought on impulse from some cute, convincing child raising money outside the grocery store. It did actually make it to my front door a couple weeks later…

While my efforts are a work in progress, there are undoubtedly emotional benefits to creating traditions dedicated to welcoming seasonal change. My mother is a master at this and I, in all my adult glory, still have a child-like excitement to holidays at my childhood home. Myself and my siblings who are all bonified adults and out of the house can still count on the predictable delectableness of spiced breads, holiday cookies, cobblers, and pies.

My mother is also extraordinarily organized. She keeps carefully planned lists for when decorations should emerge and has labeled bins thoughtfully arranged for holiday décor, ornaments, cookie cutters, tabletop platters and the like, which gives me something to strive for as a I clumsily shuffle through my garage attempting to find my one strand of Christmas lights. The music is always the same. A homage to holidays past of the 1970s with James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and the drawn-out tones of Aaron Neville that drive me a bit batty, but nevertheless cannot be spared. The same holiday figurines and adornments from my early childhood days still make their appearance all these years later. My mother is even thoughtful enough to still grace the Christmas tree with the truly unfortunate childhood craft experiments/ornaments created by myself and siblings that she still says, “are sweet.”

My mother holds the torch for seasonal cheer, but she has inspired me to light some small candles.

While the nostalgia my mother has created (and father when he, at the persistence of my mother, finally puts the Christmas lights up) can never be matched, I have taken it upon myself to be a bit more intentional to bring seasonal cheer to the confines of my own home and offices. This week for example, I bought a single pumpkin that, while not carved, is sitting on my front porch. This is a win. I also recently gave into the discount bins at Target compelling me to invest in an assortment of random plastic gourds, a garland with fake autumn leaves, and a bag of seemingly non-sensical blue pumpkins that seemed frivolous if it were not for the fact that the colors matched my office scheme.

I somehow felt a sense of camaraderie with the other several women carrying an assortment of autumn embellishments in the checkout line sharing comments such as, “I couldn’t resist”…and “can you believe how cute?!” I smiled and nodded as if it all came natural. Ultimately, let’s just say I am a work in progress.

There is much to be said about the psychology of décor and how your physical space can alter your emotions. Research suggests that adorning your home, office, or place of business with seasonal décor makes you appear more hospitable and sociable. Decorating early for the holidays (we are talking before Thanksgiving) can reportedly help lower stress, elicit nostalgia, and can reconnect us to positive childhood memories. Basically, you can get the “warm fuzzies” even earlier. It can be the little things that do not have to be costly like a warm blanket, unpacking your cozy sweaters, the smell of seasonal fare, a burning candle, or a new novel that can go far in creating lightness and seasonal ambiance.

So, whether you are on par with Martha Stewart or a work in progress such as myself, there is room for us all to welcome nature’s golden hour in our own unique ways.

Here’s to your glass of autumn splendor remaining half-full.