I was walking the dog when I noticed it.
This time I saw a tree unlike the others.
It’s winter here in Connecticut and with the exception of pines and firs, trees that displayed their colorful glory in fall have since shed their leaves.
Not this tree.
Its leaves had turned with the season, but hadn’t left their branches.
A big, bold tree hanging on to every browned, petrified leaf.
I’m sure there is some weather-related phenomena that explains why a tree that should have shed its leaves continues to display them despite heavy rains, occasional bouts of snow, and at least one gale storm with high winds.
All the other trees stand bare, the collection of dried leaves at the base of their trunks.
My steps crunch through those leaves as we walk.
(Occasionally my dog poops in them and we play an intricate bag up the poop in the dead leaves game).
Back to this tree.
This tree must be stubborn!
It insists on being different than the others. (Sorta like the kidney bean in a can of chickpeas).
Or maybe it just can’t let go.
It’s afraid without its protection of leaves, it will be exposed to all the elements.
Barren, devoid of beauty.
And this is what I think about as I walk the dog and stare at this tree, so different from the others.
I want to tell it it’s OK to let go of the dead leaves on its branches. It doesn’t need to hold onto what’s no longer serving it.
But it would be weird to talk to a tree.
So instead, I’m writing to you, my reader.
You may see yourself in this tree.
You may have things you are holding onto that you know you need to release but for whatever reason, you find you cannot.
What do you need to let go of?
Maybe you worry about what you’d lose.
Maybe you feel you wouldn’t recognize yourself if you change.
Maybe you invested in something you can’t admit is no longer valuable.
Maybe you’re holding onto armor, afraid to let your inner self show.
Maybe you simply need a new perspective.
Shedding the dead leaves won’t leave you barren forever.
Trees that are barren in winter need to be so they can bloom come spring.
You can’t make space for what you can become if you’re still holding onto what you’re meant to shed.
What are you holding onto? What value did it once bring? What value does it bring now?
What would you let go of if you could?
This tree will do its tree-like thins. It will bloom and be glorious once again.
As will you.
Valerie Gordon is a former Emmy-winning television producer, author, speaker, and trainer. The founder of The Storytelling Strategist, she helps audiences and clients discover the power of story to ascend the leadership ladder, improve their communication and collaboration skills, and build successful and satisfying careers.