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Fall Into Letting Go

October, 2019

Letting Go in Autumn: Photo by Martha Clark Scala

Autumn Teaches Us How to Bare Ourselves to More Joy

Staring out at me from a shop window on my first morning in Rockport, Massachusetts last month was a painting with a message I needed to receive:

“The trees are about to tell us how beautiful letting go can be.”

The art got my attention; the words almost took my breath away. I’ve been reflecting on that sentence ever since.

I could not find the author of this sentence in a Google search online but I did see another variation:

“The trees are about to tell us how lovely it is to let dead things go.” ~ Anonymous

Now, as you read either version of this proclamation, do you find yourself wanting to protest?

I did. How in the world could letting go be a beautiful or lovely thing to do?

Of course, the transformation of a tree’s foliage that we see during this season is beautiful. It’s lovely. But how is it for the poor tree? All bare and exposed once those leaves hit the ground, and just as the harshest season arrives.

Unfortunately, I can’t interview a tree but I have observed many in my own yard. It sure seems like our fig tree is the most vulnerable by the end of Autumn, and all through Winter. And yet, it sprouts new growth and gorgeous green leaves arrive in early Spring. A few months later, the delicious fruit makes our fig-loving friends quite happy.

I began to see the parallels. So many life circumstances force us to let go. As we navigate through deaths of loved ones, divorce, job changes or layoffs, illness, disability, relocation and more, there is almost always some foliage that has to fall from our tree. And that leaves us a bit bare. Vulnerable. Perhaps frightened. It’s understandable if situations like this make us want to crumble into a heap and hide.

But that’s not what trees do! They may look bare and even a little pathetic but guess what they’re doing? They’re preparing for their next growth spurt. Seeing it this way, I realized that letting go does have an upside.

Trees have to shed their leaves in order to grow. Perhaps we, too, have to go through the pain of letting go in order to feel lighter, or less encumbered. Perhaps this is what we need to prepare for our next growth spurt.

If I think about letting go in this way, I find it an easier “task” to undertake. I wish I’d had this perspective a few months back when we found out our home had termites and we needed to get it fumigated. At the time, the amount of preparation we had to do for this three-day procedure simply seemed annoying and inconvenient.

“There are two reasons we can’t let go:

an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

~ Marie Kondo

To clear space around the perimeter of the house, we had to let go of how our garden looked. We also had to let go of some plants that didn’t survive being transplanted. The garden was a lot more bare and looked forlorn which made me pretty forlorn, too.

Thanks to the message I received from that painting in the shop window in Rockport, I returned home with a different attitude about the garden. Over time, we will re-do some of the beds that were kind of tired and in need of an upgrade, anyway. An unfortunate termite infestation that forced us to let go rather unwillingly will ultimately clear the space for new growth to take place. It’s a win!

And as my friend Sue would say, “as with the outer, the inner.”

How might letting go change your inner landscape into a more beautiful garden?

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Front Cover of Assembling a Life by Martha Clark Scala

The Holidays are Coming!

Consider purchasing the premium softcover version of my memoir, Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself), as a gift for someone special.

OR, if you haven’t purchased it for yourself yet, how about giving it to yourself as a gift?

You can purchase the book at my website by clicking here.

If you prefer to pay by check, send me an email so we can arrange that for you.

[FYI, this book is not for sale via, due to an effort to keep the price of a book filled with colorful art and photos more manageable.]


Pictured Above

With thanks to a tree in Rockport for putting an exclamation point on this month’s blog topic.


Prompts For Joy

Click here for this quirky version of a 1979 classic. Stick with it ‘til the chorus!

Click here and don’t be chicken! Time for a humorous waltz!

Many thanks to Dr. Amy Guthrie for these gems. (And for being an awesome dentist, too.)

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.


Mark Your Calendars, SF Bay Area Readers!

Found Words, Found Wisdom: How Writing a Memoir Helped Me Discover That Happenstance is More Than Mere Coincidence

I will be the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of California Writers Club – SF/Peninsula Branch on Saturday, January 18, 2020. The meeting is from 10am to Noon. Stay tuned for more information.


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