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Shed Your Leaves

I recently read the book Present over Perfect by by Shauna Niequist. I found the following passage particularly timely for the Fall season, which is symbolic of transition. As the leaves fall so that the trees can begin their winter hibernation, we too are invited to shed that which no longer serves us. As Niequist says in Present over Perfect: “Every new season of life is an invitation to leave behind the things of the season before, the trappings and traps that have long expired, right for then, no longer right for now. Whatever passage you’re facing—entering your twenties or your sixties, facing life alone for the first time in a long time or learning the new dance of partnership, becoming a parent or becoming an empty nester, leaving student life behind or becoming a student once again—has the potential to be your sea-change, your invitation to leave behind what’s not essential and travel deeply into the heart of things. This is a pattern we can recreate all our lives, over and over, because who’s ever totally finished leaving things behind?” As noted in the passage, we experience multiple transitions over the course of our lifetime. No matter what stage you are in, there is an opportunity to take a look at what baggage you might be carrying over from a previous stage of your life. Sometimes we hold on out of fear of letting go, sometimes we are attached to the stories of our past due to nostalgia or uncertainty about what comes next. Whatever the reason, it can be hard to disentangle yourself from the past, trapping you in patterns that hold you back from fully entering the new phase. Take an honest look at what might be preventing you from fully embracing the current season of your life. Ask yourselves some questions: is what you are holding onto a safety net of sorts?; what would happen if you let go?; how would it feel to no longer carry it with you? If whatever you have been holding onto no longer serves a purpose, take a moment to honor where you’ve come from, thank your old way of being for getting you this far and then make a ceremony of letting it go. On the Colorado Hiking & Yoga retreat last month, we assigned what we were letting go of to a physical object and tossed it into the rushing water at the bottom of Brown’s Creek waterfall and watched the water carry it away. You could also write it on paper, and burn the paper. Then confidently stand in the here and now, your new season of life.

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