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This post is based on a prompt given at our last writing retreat: “The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.”

I love the four seasons – each one has something to teach us. The spring brings hope for renewal, rebirth, and growth. An essential element in our life. The summer brings the mixture of dark clouds, rain, and thunderstorms, often followed by a gorgeous rainbow. The fields of hay, vegetables, and flowers all reach their peak of maturity in summer and provide nourishment for us.

Then autumn is a time when, as the prompt reads, “The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.” The vibrant colors remind us that time is continuing to pass, life goes on, and as a last hurrah, the leaves show their best and brightest just before falling to the ground — and actually making room for new growth.

That says to me that we can’t move forward with positive change in our lives until we are willing to shed some of the old recordings that hold us in place — until we are able to open our minds and hearts to new ideas, even more developed values that bring us closer to our authentic selves.

And what of the winter? Where’s the beauty in that?

I actually love the landscape in winter almost as much as spring or fall — there is a purity in the raw exposure of trees in winter. All the gnarls and gaps and broken limbs are visible. Like the trees, until we are able to love our own gnarls and gaps and brokenness, we can never really grow into the loveliness that spring brings to us.

It is good to pause, if only for a moment, to thank each season for the unique beauty and constant lessons those changes can bring. It’s a gentle nudge to look inward and take stock. Am I living an authentic life? Am I being true to myself? Is this the time for reflection or action?

I have been retired for a couple of years now and have accomplished a lot of the things that were on my “retirement activity” list. This winter, I plan to focus more on the quiet of my life. I want to reflect on my gnarls and brokenness to find the peace of acceptance and the joy in letting go. It is an exercise that I look forward to as I “tidy up” my heart and mind and soul.

Then the spring will come, as it always does. What will emerge from the winter rest?