Fall Leaves and Letting Go


Photo by Scott Tallman

The life of a leaf

The leaves have begun to turn color in the nearby canyon. I have always loved how nature has a sense of flare. Autumn seems to provide the perfect canvas for one last burst of richness before winter's whites, greys, and browns take over the palette of the natural world. It is a leaf's grand finale of sorts, isn't it?  I find such meaning in this cyclical visual display.  As my feet crunch through crisp leaves or as I watch the leaves drift down from the branches that brought them to life, I think about what I can let go of in order to live more fully. In this way, I am the tree--determined to not just survive the winter--but to shore up and thrive amidst it. With that in mind, I can literally follow autumn's lead and let go of things that no longer serve me. I can let go of my symbolic leaves.

How does this work?

Lately, I have been using my trail runs or hikes to think about what may need to go. Expectations. Beliefs couched more in "story" than reality. Unhealthy relationships. Activities I no longer enjoy. Physical items that I no longer use or value but that clutter my mind and life. If I have time, I will even gather some fall leaves and label them with what I want to leave behind. I so appreciate the breadth that this process can take--from the reworking of one's daily schedule to one's personal relationships to creating new responses to one's wounds to acknowledging one's psyche. Letting go can reflect a change in eating or exercising or meditating. Take your time with this process. Be easy on yourself and try to be aware and patient with your intention to simplify. Then, just see what comes to you.

My leaves

  1. I am letting go of the expectation to immediately replace all of my beauty products with cleaner options. Believe it or not, this is hard for me. Still, I am going to take my time here--and find better alternatives as I run out.

  2. I am letting go of my belief that conflict is bad or scary or that it always signifies that something is wrong in a relationship. I tend to want peaceful and nurturing conversations at all times. This expectation too must go. As I work to drop my fear and psychological bias around conflict, I will instead work to be open and curious. Questions are brilliant. Validation works wonders. I will also use techniques like "shelving" when emotions go awry. I desire to appreciate and even encourage-- a nice dose of differentiation with those I love.

  3. I am letting go of the current expectation I have for grocery shopping. Members of my family like certain products from various stores. I get it. Trader Joe's s'mores chocolates are unequivocally tasty (and one of John's favorite treats). Still, I have been going to three or four different stores over the course of one week! I am minimizing this routine by staying close by and limiting it to two stores each week.

  4. I am letting go of my determination to keep my work schedule down to two days each week. It is stressing me out. I just need three. There! See that? So much better. I have allotted the space in my planner.

  5. I am letting go of the belief that meditation should happen with me sitting cross-legged on the floor, with an upright posture. I meditate in bed when I first wake up. It works best for me. I am able to practice every day this way.

  6. I am letting of my inherent desire and belief that my job as a mother is to fix things for my children. I am here primarily to connect with them as wholly unique humans--and to help them connect with and honor themselves. Full stop.

What are some "leaves" you can let go of? How will this allow you to live lighter in your current world? I would love to hear some of your thoughts about how you can simplify your life right now. Please share!