My favorite days are where you look up and notice that the trees around you have exploded in color: bright reds, yellows, and oranges. The sun shines and there’s the hint of a chill in the air that takes the edge off of the melt-your-face-off heat.

But these chilly December days have their own kind of sacredness. It’s quieter.

The truth is that these specific trees, when they’re healthy, will shed their leaves. They’ll do this every year because shedding these leaves makes room for growth. Some of these specific trees won’t shed their leaves. They’ll hold on. They’re dead.

As I walked through this carpet of crunchy, fallen leaves, I thought back to how they had looked on the trees just a few months ago, with vibrant oranges and yellows. As beautiful as they had been, that season was not supposed to last forever. I thought of just how many things we need to let go of on a daily basis.

There are so many thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and ways of being in the world that serve us for a season, but have held on too long. Many time they grew out of necessity, as we responded to the environments and relationships we were in. They kept us safe, in many cases. They protected us. But when our seasons change, they’re just not as functional as they used to be.

We hold on for so long because they were safety and security. They did serve their purpose and help us.

I’m sure you could name some of the leaves you’re holding on to: the ways you’ve tried to gain safety and security and love; the ways you’ve fought against shame and fear and anger. Maybe these thoughts and reactions have made your world seem smaller.

We rarely see trees violently shaking off their leaves on their own (this would be terrifying!), but they allow the leaves to fall. Change happens the same way for us: when we try to shame ourselves into new ways of thinking and being in the world, we terrify ourselves and those around us! Noticing our outdated patterns of being in the world with curiosity and compassion is always the first step to letting go. As we identify the patterns that are no longer serving us, we’re able to begin to be willing to let go of them. Our past is not our destiny. We are also not locked into our ways of reacting. There’s a beauty in honoring the way our patterns have served us in the past and at the same time pivoting to a new story and a new way of responding to our environments and our relationships now.

We let go when the heaviness of trying to do what we’ve always done and expecting different results becomes just too heavy. We let go because letting go makes room for new life. We let go out of expectancy: that there is more, that we are not only what we were, that the best is ahead of us.

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