Fall is not my favorite season. Yet, I see the beauty still. One morning, after dropping my daughter off at school. I took a walk. It was not your typical crisp, Fall day. It was one of those days that had a dampness to the air. As I walked, leaves fell all around me. The yellow, greenish-yellow, and red leaves were trickling slowly from tall tree branches. This experience ignited my love for nature. I began noting the different leaves as they fell to take pictures or videos. I found myself watching in awe at the speed of the fall and easy landing to earth. Or the utter snail’s pace, for others, seemed to take hours to fall from branch to pavement. Each appeared to move on their own accord. I was witnessing in real-time, letting go.
I was walking in a circle in a park, and leaves were being released all around me. A metaphor in life that did not escape me. How often do we continue patterns in life, circles, when all we need to do is: let go?
The relationship between the tree and leaf intrigued me. Although we learn these things as children, seeing them with well-lived, grown-up eyes hits you differently. “Why do leaves fall off trees? Leaves fall—or are pushed—off trees so that the tree can survive the winter and grow new leaves in the spring.” I love this explanation from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. They also note in their answer, “But the word “fall” is a bit misleading. It implies that the trees are passive this time of year, when, in fact, they are actively “pushing” the leaves off their branches.”
Did you catch that? The trees aren’t passive; they are actively pushing the leaves off their branches.
This year, I actively decided to let go more deeply. That’s why the morning that I’ve described here captured so much meaning for me. Sometimes when we think of letting go, we visualize it as leaving a relationship, leaving a job, leaving a city, or leaving something and moving on. I’m not saying that those things aren’t necessary at times in the process of letting go. I’m saying that for me letting go is fluid. I have learned to be more like the tree and actively push the leaves off of my branches so that I can survive and, in turn, thrive in all seasons. I cannot control the behavior or actions of others. Not allowing their words and ill intent to take up space in my mind, body, and spirit is something I can control. I have let go of the burden of carrying the unhealthy weight of others. For too long, I have held space for another’s negative comment, opinion, and perspective in my tree. Now, I focus on being the best me, period. It’s not my responsibility to do anyone else’s inner work, so I don’t allow it to become my burden. I release those leaves that don’t serve me. I show up with a pure heart and authenticity doing my work. I can’t control what I am met with, but intentionally letting go protects my peace.
Oh, I have also embraced being ok with saying “no” to people and situations that have shown patterns of making me feel like ****. The word “no” can be controversial. But I have let go of the need for others to understand. Some people are committed to misunderstanding you— so again, control what you can. It’s about seeing the big picture and the reality of it. A simple question that I use as a gauge is, “Is this nourishing my soul?” It’s been a valuable tool for me when making decisions.
“The day I understood everything, was the day I stopped trying to figure everything out. The day I knew peace was the day I let everything go.” ― C. JoyBell C.
Letting go allows us to choose what’s best for us. It’s trusting ourselves to know what’s best for us and what’s not. It will enable us to survive the winter in all of its forms. I have to be honest; letting go is a practice. It’s not an easy concept to implement right away. It takes a hard look in the mirror and answering real questions. It means that you will have to set boundaries and honor them. It means that you will have to see yourself and face your hurt. It takes doing the inner work. It means you will have to say “no” and find ways to release the guilt that comes along with that word. It means fully embracing your “yes”. It means you will have to find new ways to care for yourself that reflect your growth. You will have bumps in the road, but you will have so much light to direct your course.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet and activist based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others. She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibilities that exist in choosing “more” of what allows you to live a life that you love.